This week, I had the opportunity to talk to Windy City Bulls head coach Henry Domercant and ask him a few questions.
Domercant, the Chicagoland native, committed to Eastern Illinois in 1999. He was a sensation. Domercant was 2nd in the nation in scoring his junior and senior seasons, averaging 26.4 points per game as a junior and 27.9 points per game as a senior. He was a pure scorer. Domercant finished his collegiate career shooting 45.3% from the field and 40.5% from the 3-point line.
To this day, Domercant continues to lead both Eastern Illinois and the entire Ohio Valley Conference in all-time scoring. He sits at 40th on the all-time scoring list by college basketball players.
After college, Domercant took the international route. He started his professional career in Turkey in 2003. He played with Pınar Karşıyaka and Efes Pilsen. In Turkey, Domercant won a Turkish Cup, Turkish League championship, and was a 2x All-star.
Then, in 2006, he played in Greece with Olympiacos. In 2007, he played in Russia with Dynamo Moscow.
Following Russia, Domercant played in Italy with Montepaschi Siena until 2010. He won all three competitions with the club: the Italian Supercup, the Italian Cup, and the Italian League championship.
In 2011, Domercant went back to Russia and played with Spartak Saint Petersburg and UNICS Kazan. He won a Russian Cup and was named an All-star.
From 2012 to 2015, Domercant went back to Turkey and played for Galatasaray S.K and went back to Italy to play with JuveCaserta Basket.
From 2015 to 2017, he was acquired by the Idaho Stampede (now the Salt Lake City Stars) of what was then the D-League, and lastly, joined the Romanian club CS Universitatea Cluj-Napoca.
In between Domercant’s international stints, he played with the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team in two FIBA championships.
Domercant battled injuries with both Galatasaray and the Universitatea. Add that to a long and successful international career, he decided to retire from playing and immediately pursued a coaching career.
Two months after retiring from playing, Domercant was hired by the Maine Celtics (the Boston Celtics G League affiliate) as part of the player development team.
In 2018, he was hired as an assistant coach for the Windy City Bulls. Domercant was promoted to player development coordinator for Windy City in 2020, but the team did not play due to COVID.
But, they did play in 2021, and Domercant was named the head coach.
Windy City was very successful in Domercant’s first year as head coach. They were always competitive during the regular season and just missed out on the playoffs.
The G League is a developmental league and Windy City had many players get called up to the Chicago Bulls. Devon Dotson, Tyler Cook, Marko Simonović, and Malcolm Hill all played with the Chicago Bulls this year.
Here’s the interview:
Q: The G League is seen as a place for development. As a coach, is your main goal winning or development? And how does that factor your decision-making on substitutions? In clutch time, do you play a proven veteran or a rookie or sophomore player who needs to gain more experience in clutch time?
A: My mission is to create an environment that is conducive for growth and development. To answer the question, Development is my main focus and the driving factor behind most decisions. But learning to win and impacting winning is part of development as well so there is a subtle balance between winning and primarily focusing on development.
Q: Between the NBA and the G League, players are constantly being called up, signing 10-day contracts, and returning back to the G League. What is the challenge of coaching a team that may not spend a lot of time together on the court?
A: The challenge is finding chemistry and getting them to compete together. The best teams have a connection on offense and defense. That takes time to build. Part of developing that chemistry is communication. Communication erases mistakes. Not spending time together definitely makes communication more difficult.
Q: You had an amazing college career, and were second in the nation in scoring your Junior and Senior year. However, rather than trying to play in the NBA, you went straight to Europe and had a successful career there. Why did you choose international basketball over the NBA?
A: The NBA was much different when I played. My game was probably more suited for Europe at the time. I really wanted to play and not just sit on the bench on a team. Europe offered a place for me to do that. Also, the NBA minimum contracts were a lot lower back when I played.
Q: If a player’s goal was to make the NBA but went undrafted, like many players in the G League, what is the benefit of playing basketball overseas as opposed to playing in the G League and vice versa?
A: Playing overseas, allows you to learn basketball from a global perspective. It is an opportunity to play against experienced players and coaches. Also, there are opportunities to secure more lucrative contracts. The G-League allows you to remain connected to an NBA organization, to continue to develop in the NBA style of play, and allows you the incentives of midseason call ups
Q: What does it mean for you to come back to coach in Chicago after playing your High School and Collegiate career in and around the Chicago area?
A: I am extremely grateful to coach in the Chicagoland area. Being from the area has made having the job just a more significant than otherwise. I constantly get support from the fans and from the area’s basketball community. My heart is attached to this organization. I truly have the job I want. It definitely makes it a whole lot easier to enjoy coming to work every day.
Thank you so much to Henry Domercant for these fantastic responses. I encourage all fans to try to attend Windy City Bulls games. The talent there is truly incredible. Go Bulls!