Spencer Butterfield is a 24 year old 190cm guard from Loomis, California playing his third professional season and first with JSF Nanterre (France-ProA). Currently he is averaging 13,0ppg, 4,7rpg and 2,4apg in the France Pro A while shooting 41,7% from outside. In the FIBA Europe cup he is averaging 13,9ppg, 3,4rpg and 1,5apg while shooting a ridiculous 53,7% from the parking lot. He played at Utah St. (NCAA) and as a senior played 32 games averaging 13.0ppg, 6.2rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 46.0%, FT: 82.9%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with Melilla Baloncesto (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 25 games averaging 10.0ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 87.9%. Last season he played with Juventus-LKSK Utenos (Lithuania-LKL): 40 games: Score-3(14.5ppg), 6.2rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 81.3%; FIBA Europe Cup: 14 games: 15.0ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 78.4%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Fiba Europe Cup game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn.
Spencer thanks for talking to German Hoops. Your fourth in the France Pro A standings and sitting in the Fiba Europe Cup quarterfinals. How good is your professional basketball life at the moment?
I am pretty happy with it at the moment haha. Our team is in a great position and we have a lot of confidence moving forward.
Nanterre is having a great season in the France Pro A as well as in the Fiba Europe Cup. What has been the main reasons for the club being successful. The club kept only two players and the rest are new guys. How vital has it been having constructed the right team this season for the success?
I think we just have a great group of guys that really enjoys playing together and hanging out. It is very vital to construct a good team and this organization has done a great job of that.
Nanterre did win a few cups since their surprising league title in 2013. What prime example can you give that the expectations are super high to win?
I think everyone expects to win titles this year.
In the first 8 Fiba Europe the team was up and down with a record of 3-5, but in the last eight games are 8-0. How do you explain this huge turn around in the international competition?
I think we just finally figured out what we needed to do to win and everyone has accepted their roles and is happy with them. We all know what to expect out of each other and everyone is confident that they have something great to bring to the table and to the team.
Nanterre has one more hurdle before reaching the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 as they have a date with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. You have the fourth best ranked offense playing against the second best defense of Bonn. What kind of series can we await and what will be key to getting by them?
I think it will be a very intense series where you will see a lot of great basketball and two teams competing to get to the Finals.
Nanterre has many interesting players, but from a German stand point the most interesting is Heiko Schaffartzik who is a combo guard, but like you can shoot out the lights. How have you profited from his game and advice. Does he have any part in your immense success shooting this season especially in the Fiba Europe Cup?
Heiko is a great captain for our team and has great leadership skills. He is one that leads by example and so it easy to listen and respect what he says. I have a learned a lot from his approach to practices, games, and overall professionalism. He definitely helps take the pressure off me when he is on the floor because they can’t help off of him or else he will punish them.
Schaffartzik has hit from just about everywhere except from the moon, but what has been the most amazing shot you have seen him take in a game or practice where you thought, “hmmmm that´s pretty good”?
It is hard to keep track of how many great shots Heiko has hit. It is almost not surprising anymore when he hits difficult shots anymore because it is so normal for him. He has hit a couple end of shot clock deep 3s that are like “wow only Heiko”
You are an exceptional shooter. What NBA shooters did you always look up too and to what NBA player would you compare your game too?
There are a lot of great shooters in the league right now but I am a huge fan of Klay Thompson and Curry. They shoot the ball with the same confidence no matter how many makes or misses they have before. Their shot looks the same if they missed their previous 10 3s or made their last 5. I would like to be compared to a Klay Thompson. Not the ball handler or fanciness of Steph Curry but can still get hot from 3. Plus I love how hard Klay plays at both ends of the floor and I would like to do the same.
You are currently on a massive hot shooting streak from outside as you have continued to shoot over 40% since your junior year at Utah State. Was shooting always in your blood, or did your sniper qualities develop over time with hard work ethic and proper shot selection?
My shooting ability has definitely been developed over time. When I was younger I was more of a driver and midrange jump shooter. But as I got older my competition got taller and I didn’t so I had to learn how to shoot if I wanted to continue my career. I put a lot of work into it and a lot of rebounding from my brother Taylor and working out with my good friends at Utah State.
Especially this season you are shooting an amazing 53% from the parking lot in the Fiba Europe Cup. It seems like everything has come together. Do you sense like you have a special self confidence when your shooting in this competition that you never had had before?
I try to have the same confidence every time I step on the court. And I think this offense and my teammates have made me even more confident so I owe a lot of credit to them.
Recently you dropped 39 points on 11/13 shooting from outside against Usak which was the most points you have ever had since you started at Utah State. Did you know early on that you were going to have a great shooting day?
I knew after my 4th three that I was feeling extra good but I was just trying to live in the moment so I wasn’t really paying attention to career highs or anything.
You are a guy that can fill up the stat sheet and one shouldn´t call you a one dimensional player. What do you feel is your second best quality as a player and what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
I love rebounding and take pride in that so I think that would be my hidden strength.
Last season you played NBA Summer League with the Utah Jazz putting up respectable numbers of 8,6ppg in 8 games. When you observed all the other talent there and see who made the NBA, how far is a player of your qualities really from the NBA?
I hope I am close but I still have a lot to prove.
You played together with German Tibor Pleiss and got to know him with the Utah Jazz last summer. He made the NBA, but his stay was short. What do you believe was missing in his game to stick in the NBA?
I loved playing with Tibor and I think he is a great player. I am not really sure why he didn’t last longer but it is all about opportunity over there.
Last season you played for Juventus-LKSK Utenos (Lithuania-LKL): 40 games: Score-3(14.5ppg), 6.2rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 81.3%; FIBA Europe Cup: 14 games: 15.0ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 78.4%. After having a solid rookie season in Spain, do you feel like your second season was your break out season?
Was your 34 point, 18 rebound game in the win against Siaulial your best game as a professional or did your 39 point game against Usak top that?
Um I think USAK was more monumental because of shooting from 3. But for overall performance I think the 34 18 game was better because of the all around performance.
As a rookie you played for Melilla Baloncesto (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 25 games: 10.0ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 87.9%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Spain where you knew that you were very far away from Loomis, California?
I think I just learned that I needed to work harder in the offseason and come back more hungry.
You started your career at Yuba community college before going to Utah State. Were you always confident then that you had the game to play at the NCAA level.
You played two seasons at Utah State. How did head coach Stew Morrill groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He was one of my favorite coaches. Taught me how to be coachable and not be so stubborn. He also taught me how to think more about the game rather than just playing super hard. I have a lot of respect for Stew Morril and the assistant Chris Jones.
You had many memorable games at Utah State, but how big was your 20 rebound game in the win against Texas State? Was that a top 5 college game for you?
Yes that was a lot of fun.
What were your memories of forward Danny Berger? You played two seasons before he moved to BYU-Hawaii and finished strong there and has had a solid career in Germany.
Danny Berger is one of my best friends to this day. He will be a life long friend. We train a lot in the summers together. I went to a few of his preseason games in Germany this year. As well as Preston Medlin who also plays in Germany Pro A and Sean Harris who plays in Finland.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Preston Medlin. In an interview last year when asked about this, he was very neutral. “Well if you ever ask me who won more I am always going to say that I won no matter if it is true or not. I am sure Spencer will say the same thing so I don’t think we will ever be able to prove who one more”.
HAHA Preston is a great player and friend. I am going to reiterate what he said.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
Top 3 because of his efficiency with and without the ball.
Thanks Spencer for the chat.