Manu Lecomte is a 22 year old 180cm point guard from Grimbergen Belgium that is heading into his senior year at Baylor(NCAA) and currently is playing with the Belgium national team preparing for the 2017 Eurobasket tournament. He started his basketball career in Belgium with BBC Kangoeroes-Boom (D2) and then played with Belfius Mons-Hainaut (Ethias League). In 2013 he moved to the States and played with Miami(NCAA) for two seasons playing 71 games. He then transferred to Baylor and made his break through last season leading the team to the NCAA Sweet 16 playing 33 games averaging 12.2ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.8apg, FGP: 45.0%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 83.0%. He spoke to German Hoops before an exhibition game against Germany in Erfurt.
Manu thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I am currently in Germany for the preparation with the National team. Its been a pretty good summer so far as I was first preparing the season already with my team at Baylor and now I am in Belgium trying to make the team.
As I was preparing this interview I was shocked to read that Belgium lost two exhibition games to Iceland back to back. No offense towards Iceland, but apparently they have made strides in their basketball program in the last years. How did you experience them twice and could they advance in their group where they will most likely battle Poland and Slovenia for the last spot?
We went to Iceland last week with a very young group of age. Before that we hadn’t practiced one time with each other and the vets weren’t with us. The main goal for us was really just trying to get better. The coach knew we were going to struggle since we didn’t really know each other and Iceland is also a pretty good team with a lot of very good shooters. I feel like at this point it´s not only the team with the best players that is going to win but the team that is going to play the best that day so yes I feel like they have a chance to battle with those other countries
Many of the Belgium top players aren´t on board yet or will this years Eurobasket roster be weaker than in the past or will some of those guys like Lojeski, Tabu, De Zeeuw and Hervelle be in camp and at Eurobasket?
All the vets will be back I think for this Eurobasket. We just started in Iceland last week with the young guys now we’re 17
The country Belgium has always had basketball talent, but less luck as they have appeared in 13 Eurobasket tournaments, but had a span of 20 years before 2011 that it was unable to qualify? How is the state of Belgium basketball in 2017?
Like you said I believe Belgium’s got a lot of talents and I think Belgium is evolving the right way, we’ve come a long way and I’m proud to be a part of this
You have been a part of all the youth teams and won a silver at the EM U-20 in 2014. What are some up and coming players that you feel will make huge strides in the next years?
We have a lot of up coming guys like Hans Vanwijn, Ismael Bako and Vincent Kesteloot that are in the 17 man roster. I played with them in the U -20 tournaments so It’s cool to be back with them here again
You play an exhibition game on Saturday against Germany. How did you experience German basketball growing up? Obviously since 2013 you have lived in the States and not been following the game in Germany, but seen some German players crack the NBA. What is your impression of their program and potential?
Germany has got some really good pros. Even in college I think they got a couple guys playing and they’re pretty good. Obviously Dirk is probably the best player ever in Germany but they also got a couple young guys that are very very talented.
Germany will have a good roster, but not their best. What kind of game can we await on Saturday? It will be Germany´s first test, while Belgium have had some games under their belt. Could these be more of an ugly game where Belgium could profit from and have better chances of winning?
It might not be a great game but it´s going to be a good one, I think both team are trying to figure things out as they both just started their preparation. But like Germany is we are a very competitive team so we’re going to play hard no matter the circumstances.
You came to the States in 2013 to Miami(NCAA) just as Dennis Schroeder entered the NBA. How have you followed his career? Do you see him becoming a top 5 point guard in the NBA in 3-5 years?
Dennis Schroeder is a very good player, I really like his game, I have followed him and watch some of his games and I definitely think he could be a top 5 point guard in the NBA one day.
You have played against the top players and point guards for years in the NCAA: So you have seen many great players that are in the NBA now. Because of being a bit spoiled of having seen and battled so many point guards in the last 4 years, will your encounter with Dennis Schroeder just be something normal or will it be truly a very exciting moment for you?
Like you said I have played against a lot of very good point guards but Dennis is someone that already has a lot of experience in the NBA and that is playing really well so I’m pretty excited about it and looking forward to it.
Let´s talk about your game. Two things that stand out most is your precise shooting and poise on the court. With that said to what NBA player would you compare your game to and what other strengths do you have on the court?
I don´t usually compare myself to another player but when I was young I tried to model my game after Tony Parker who is one of my favorite NBA players, Allen Iverson too.
You are a point guard, but would it be fair to say that you are a shoot first guard as you don´t have the super high assist rate: Is playmaking something you can further improve in your senior year at Baylor?
Like you said I’m a shoot first point guard. But I also like to keep my team involved and playmaking is something that I’m going to have so show more but I definitely think that I already have it, It’s in me.
You can do so much on the court, but what do you feel is a hidden strength that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
Probably my quickness, since I try to stay poised most the time and I try to not get sped up people don´t always notice how fast I am at first.
You played two seasons at Miami(NCAA) putting up solid stats and even started 17 games as a freshman. How important was assistant coach Michael Huger who brought you to Florida from Belgium. How did he make you a better player especially from the mental side?
Coach Huger was huge for me at Miami, He’s the one that brought me there. He really helped me a lot on and off the court he was always there for me. He played many years in Belgium as a pro he was a very smart point guard, I learned a lot from him especially on the mental side which I think is probably the most important part of the game. He truly helped me become a better point guard but also a better leader.
You left after your second season at Miami citing that you weren´t sure about your playing time with an influx of guards coming in. When you look back at your junior year at Baylor, how vital was it for your game development and maturation for leaving and going to Baylor. What kind of player has Manu Lecomte become at Baylor?
It´s been a huge change in my life but also a huge blessing, Baylor is terrific program with a great coaching staff. Of course my redshirt year was tough but it really allowed me to work on my game and become a much better player overall but also and most importantly and better man.
Baylor has made a few NCAA Sweet 16 runs and Elite 8 runs since 2010. What has been the secret to the success of the school in recent times through the guidance of head coach Drew Scott and what will the Baylor basketball headline say in April 2018?
The main ‘secret to success’ at Baylor is a terrific coaching staff and recruiting and of course great players with huge talent. The sky is the limit for us this year as it was last year, we are going to prove a lot of people wrong again but it´s a process we still have a lot of work to do but I believe we can accomplish anything with this team, the Final Four is in mind for sure.
You made your NCAA break through last season and it´s no secret that your dream is the NBA. What do you need to do as a player I your senior year to make the next step at the NCAA level and become a 2018 NBA Draft Pick?
I’m going to need to just do what I have been doing but better. I want to be great so I am going to have to take my game to another level so I can lead my team and win games.
How much will you miss Johnathan Motley who signed with the Dallas Mavericks and like German Maxi Kleber will be fighting for playing time. Can he make an impact for the Mavericks right away?
I will miss J-Mot a lot. He was a great player so talented but even a better teammate. J-Mot is a pro no doubt he will make an impact if he gets a chance.
You have played against many top point guards in the NCAA, but who was the toughest that was drafted or is in the NBA now?
I have played against a lot of good point guards in college but the toughest one was probably Frank Mason, very good point guard in a great team tough to guard.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
I would pick Steph, KD, Lebron and James Harden
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
To me the best of all time is still Michael Jordan mainly because he’s got 3 more rings than Lebron. But Lebron is really special he can do it all, he’s definitely in my top 10 of all time.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I don´t think its a far assessment to Russ. He plays every game like it´s his last and you have to respect that. Some players in the NBA sit out some games to rest since its a long season and its fine but Russ is a different animal. You got to love the intensity and the determination in his game.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
The 2017 NBA Draft was such a great draft to me with a lot of potential especially on the point guard spot. Its tough to say who really is going to make an impact from day one but a guy like Jayson Tatum could really be a superstar.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
Chris Paul and James Harden is great backcourt in the NBA but when you see a team in the West like Golden State there is definitely something missing if they want to win it all.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Despicable me 3, I loved the first 2 and the last one was funny as well
Thanks Manu for the chat.