Fred Hoiberg spoke highly of SMU transfer Emmanuel Bandoumel last week when he met with the media. The 6-foot-4 guard arrived a little bit later than the rest of the newcomers, but he’s quickly made an impression on his new team.
“I have not been around many guys like Emmanuel that just, such a great character kid that is all about the right things,” Hoiberg said. “He’s all about the team. He’s one of the best talkers I’ve been around, leadership. He’s always got a smile on his face. Very few people come into this thing where they don’t have a bad day, and he’s one of those guys. You talked about the energy givers, the energy takers; he’s an energy giver. So I’ve been really, really impressed with Emmanuel.”
On Thursday, Bandoumel pushed back on the “no bad days” idea, but explained the philosophy that led his new coach to view him in that way.
“I do have bad days, I’m not perfect, but it’s just about the mentality,” Bandoumel said. “Whenever something bad happens in my day, the way I look at it is it’s going to be like five seconds or a minute of it. I don’t want to ruin the rest of my day with it, and I think I do a good job of having quick turnarounds. Whenever stuff happens, it happened already so it’s in the past now. You’ve got to move on and look at the present and the future. So I think that’s the way I look at it.”
Bandoumel said the adjustment to his new program has been smooth. He went through a roster overhaul last season with SMU, so he’s no stranger to building relationships with a new group. Bandoumel is one of three players on the roster taking advantage of his extra season of eligibility (Sam Griesel and Derrick Walker being the others). He started 68 games in his three seasons with SMU after one year of JUCO ball in Texas and has seen a lot during his college career.
However, as an international student (from Quebec City, Quebec, Canada), he had to go through a different enrollment process for graduate school at Nebraska. He arrived on campus a bit later than the rest and missed the start of workouts, but has gradually assimilated to the program and asserted himself as a veteran.
“It was just a day-by-day thing for me,” Bandoumel said. “I came literally like a week later than anybody, so I couldn’t just barge in and just basically lay down the law or whatever. I was just like ‘Let me go with the group’s energy and let me follow it.’ It’s basketball; I’ve got a lot of experience and I know basketball, I think. I do know basketball a little bit. So sometimes, if I can give some advice or some tips to some of my players, some of my teammates, I’ll do that, and that’s exactly what I did. It was just a day-by-day thing. I told Coach Hoiberg before I came here, I was like, ‘Whatever you need, I’ll make sure that I can bring it to the table for the team.”
Bandoumel said he did his “research” before arriving in Lincoln, studying game film and highlights from his new teammates to better prepare himself to play with them. That includes North Dakota State transfer Sam Griesel, with whom Bandoumel hasn’t yet shared the court because of the hip surgery that has sidelined Griesel since late March.
“Off the court, we talk a lot,” Bandoumel said about Griesel. “We’ve been asking each other questions about how it was in our previous school schools that we were at last year, and I got to learn a little bit about him. And honestly, I did some research on him to see how he plays so just whenever he comes in, I’m ready to make sure I’m the best teammate for him and make sure that I can find him in his spots. I think he did pretty much the same thing about me; he’s watching all practice because he can’t practice with us just yet. But we’ve been doing a good job of bonding together, coming together to get ready for this big year.”
As for his own game, Bandoumel takes pride in his versatility and ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor.
“I love playing defense, especially that side of the court is something that I bring,” Bandoumel said. “I love to kind of coordinate everything on defense, making sure that everybody’s in a good spot. Offensively, I think I’m kind of like a do-it-all player. I shoot the ball pretty well, I can pass the ball really well, I’ve got a good feel for the game and I just bring whatever is needed for the team to the table. So whatever the team needs, I’ll do it for you.”
Bandoumel averaged 10.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 35.2% from 3 this past season at SMU.
Before committing to Nebraska, Bandoumel sought feedback from NBA scouts and decision-makers. They told him they wanted to see him handling the ball and being more of a playmaker while improving his shooting efficiency, and those are the areas in which he’s focusing this season as he prepares to play in a new offensive system at Nebraska. Bandoumel said Hoiberg is the reason he picked Nebraska after entering the transfer portal.
“I had a lot of conversation with my old coach, Tim Jankovich, and I’m still talking to him to this day,” Bandoumel said. “He told me about him, and same thing with Coach Rob Lanier, the new coach at SMU. I talked with him about the coaches that were recruiting me and all that stuff. I watched a lot of film, and the play style was just a perfect play style, the NBA style of play, basically. So it was something that I was looking into, and also being in the Big Ten, one of the best if not maybe top one, top two best conferences in the NCAA. I looked at it like I’m going to play at that level, I want to see where my game is standing at right now and just having a better chance to make it in the NBA. So it was just a perfect fit for me.”
Bandoumel may have his bad days like anyone else, but he’s determined not to let them ever ruin his day. The season is still months away, but he’s already making an impact at Nebraska with his ever-present smile.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.