Alex Herrera is a 24 year old 206cm forward from Ignacio, Colorado going into his third professional season. He started his basketball career with Fort Lewis (NCAA2) in 2010 and as a senior in 2014-2015 played 18 games averaging 23.2ppg, Reb-5(11.4rpg), 1.7apg, Blocks-4(3.2bpg), FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 66.3%. He started his professional basketball career with South West Metro Pirates (Australia-QBL) playing 16 games averaging 21.8ppg, Reb-5(13.7rpg), 2.1bpg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 73.7%. In the 2015-2016 season he played with KTP Basket Kotka (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 28 games averaging 10.1ppg, Reb-3(8.9rpg), Blocks-3(1.5bpg), FGP: 52.6%, FT: 68.1%; FIBA Europe Cup: 6 games: 8.7ppg, 6.7rpg, FGP: 50.0%, FT: 76.9%. Last season he played with Tau Castello (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 34 games: averaging 6.1ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 47.6%, FT: 58.8%. He spoke to German Hoops earlier in the summer about Basketball.
Alex thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been going?
I am currently in Ignacio Colorado, and my summer has been going great so far be able to spend some quality time with the family.
You come from Ignacio, Colorado which is a Spanish name, have a Spanish like name with Herrera and are known as chief. How much Spanish is in you or do you even have some native American in you?
Ignacio, is a Spanish name but the town it’s self is in a Native American reservation, which is how I got the nickname chief, however I am half Hispanic but not Native American.
Congrats on signing with German Pro A team Phoenix Hagen. How excited are you to be playing your third professional season in Germany? What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Your ex teammate Deandre Lansdowne from FT Lewis is playing in Germany.
I’m extremely excited to be playing in Germany for Phoenix Hagen. I have heard nothing but good things about the basketball in Germany, from people like Deandre who played Pro A last year, and also from Brandon Jefferson who played in Hagen a couple years ago has told me that Hagen has great fans. So I can’t wait to get started!
How did your third summer go in terms of finding that right fit? Did you have many more offers and what was the deciding factor that made you sign on the dotted line with Phoenix Hagen?
Summer has gone great, have been in the gym getting great work in with a lot of guys who play in Europe but have worked the most with Deandre. I had a couple offers from other countries but after hearing the experiences that Deandre had last year, and talking with Coach Grothe I felt like Phoenix Hagen was an offer I shouldn’t pass up.
Lets talk about your game. Phoenix Hagen head coach Matthias Grothe likes your mobility for a big man. You can score and rebound at ease, but what are other strengths in your game that you will showcase on the floor in Germany?
Defensively I want to bring a presence and protect the rim.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I take a lot of pride on the defensive end of the court, and the way a lot of people look at this game at just offense.
After a Great rookie season in Finland, you came to earth in Spain seeing another side of professional basketball where you didn´t get ample minutes. Will you be playing with a sort of chip on your shoulder with Phoenix Hagen with that desire to show that you can be an impact player?
Last season was humbling, and never lost the chip on my shoulder but I am looking forward to doing the whatever it takes this season to help Phoenix Hagen win.
How much did it help to have a fellow American like Kyle Cooper on board who was a rookie and like you came from a NCAA 2 school Hillsdale with huge stats of 22 and 9 and had his rookie growing pains also getting less minutes than what he may have liked. Would the season had been a lot more difficult if he hadn´t been there?
All of my teammates at Tau Castellón were great, but having Kyle really helped because we did have the same background and went through some of the same struggles throughout the season, but most of all we would push each other a lot.
Was there any positive that you could take from this season? You did show some flashes of brilliance when you did get minutes. Do you feel like mentally having a harder season than expected helped you for the next step?
I would have to say there are lessons to be learned throughout any event, and the thing that last year did for me was make me hungry to not be in a situation like this again.
As a rookie you played for KTP Basket Kotka (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 28 games averaging 10.1ppg, Reb-3(8.9rpg), Blocks-3(1.5bpg), FGP: 52.6%, FT: 68.1%; FIBA Europe Cup: 6 games: 8.7ppg, 6.7rpg, FGP: 50.0%, FT: 76.9%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Colorado?
The biggest wake up call was just the different cultures and I got to see different countries playing the the FIBA Eurocup
How important was it playing Fiba Europe Cup as a rookie. The club went only 1-5, but what valuable things could you take from these 6 games?
Playing in that league you get to play against some great and experienced players and see how you compare to other top teams in Europe.
Even though you lost to Turkish team Turk Telekom twice you did hit them with 10 points once and played against some very talented players with Jenkins, Brown and Buckner who have been near the NBA. Did a performance like this show you that your game isn´t that far off from the games of guys like that?
Yes definitely, I’m a competitor so being able to compete against some of best and take away things to learn is always a positive.
What memories do you of Canadian high flying athletic player Sefton Barrett who played in Germany many years ago. How strong was his leaping ability still at age 33?
By his jumping ability you wouldn’t of been able to tell he was 33, and it was fun to watch him put some people on posters.
You had your first professional experience with South West Metro Pirates (Australia-QBL) in 2014 playing 16 games: 21.8ppg, Reb-5(13.7rpg), 2.1bpg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 73.7%. What was your nicest experience there off the court?
Just experiencing Australia and getting to see a new country for the first time was great, but I would have to say being able to go to the beach was the best!
Before you turned professional you had a workout with the Denver Nuggets along with NCAA 2 rival Mitch McCarron of Metro State and some top NCAA prospects Colorado’s Askia Booker, Colorado State’s JJ Avila and Stanton Kidd and Wyoming’s Derek Cooke. What lasting words did the Denver Nuggets give you to help your ego and keep you busy in the gym?
The biggest advice that they gave me was perfection, to try and perfect things, and that has always stuck with me to never be satisfied there is always something to perfect.
You had many great single game performances at FT Lewis and also won the RMAC tournament in 2011 as well as reaching the NCAA 2 Sweet 16. What was your fondest memory there?
One of the coolest experiences was my sophomore year when we were ranked 17th in the nation playing the undefeated number 1 team in the nation Metro State and we took them down.
You played at Fort Lewis (NCAA2) from 2010-2015 and really stepped up and improved your stats in your last three seasons. When during this time did you know that you could be a professional player?
It was probably after my sophomore season, when I started working out with Kirk Archibeque who has been playing in Europe since 2009 and he helped steer me in the right path.
How did coaches Bob Hofman and Bob Pietrack groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career.
Coach Hoffman was great very wise I took so much knowledge away from him. But with Coach Pietrack and also Coach Steffensen I would constantly be in the gym with them putting in work, or in their office between classes watching film. Can’t say enough about these two really, they had been great role models for me
Who won a one on one in practice you or Austin Haldorson?
Haha I would have to say I would take him.
How does a summer work out day look like for you on and off the court?
I get up in the morning get a court workout in with one of my college teammates Lucas Archuleta who is a skills development guy now working on all sorts, then after we hit the weight room and do a lot of plyos and others. Home for a little rest then we come back in the afternoon and get a lot of shots up on the gun, and work on conditioning.
Who was the toughest player you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Two players actually stick out, Derrick White who was drafted this year by the spurs, and Brandon Jefferson These two were the most competitive players I had played against.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, and Bird
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?
He is a great player no doubt, the things that he does are phenomenal but I still would have to say Jordan is the best.
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?
This past season in Spain, we wouldn’t get a lot of whole games on tv just a lot of highlights, so I can’t really say. However what he did this year by averaging a triple double was jaw dropping.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Caleb Swanigan for the trailblazers I think will be great for them that is my sleeper to have a bigger role than a lot of people would think.
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?
Adding a player of Chris Paul’s caliber definitely helps but the Warriors and Spurs in the west I still see as being more dominant
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I watched was “The Finest Hours”
Thanks Alex for the chat.