There may not be a story more defined by hard work in college basketball than Dale Bonner’s journey to Baylor. Bonner joins us to talk about his path from high school basketball in Cleveland, to Division II Fairmont State, and ultimately landing at Baylor.
Bonner was described as having the best style on the team by fellow guard Langston Love; needless to say Bonner brings the heat both on and off the court. Bonner talks hoops, fashion, and how he feels about the nickname “Big Dale” that has been circling Twitter.
Dale Bonner is an incredible culture fit and Baylor is blessed to have him in green and gold! The link to the full interview podcast is below, followed by the Q&A transcript. Enjoy!
Links to the Podcast
Q1) I watched your Bear Necessities video that got put out and I wanted to start there, specifically with the white tee shirts. When I interviewed Langston he said you had the best style on the team - why is a white tee shirt a staple in your rotation?
A1) “I think just having a white tee shirt is a good basic if you can’t figure out what tee you want to wear. You can’t go wrong throwing on a white tee if you can’t figure what to throw together for a fit. I’m a pretty simple guy sometimes so you really can’t go wrong with a white tee shirt. White tee shirts are on my Christmas list, so hopefully I get a pack.”
Q2) How would you describe your style as a whole?
A2) “My style as a whole is pretty unique. I try to do my own thing. I pretty much just try to do whatever I’m feeling that day honestly. Sometimes I just try to be comfortable. Usually I’m trying to just be as comfortable as possible. Like a jogging suit, but sometimes I switch it up and go with jeans and a graphic tee or a designer tee shirt. I just try to be myself when I’m dressing.”
Q3) You mentioned Jordan 1’s and 4’s are your favorite sneakers. Do you collect all sneakers or really just Jordan’s?
A3) “There are other shoes that I like too. Like you said the Jordan 1’s and 4’s, I also have some 11’s. I also like Air Max 1’s, Air Max 95’s, Air Max 97’s. I’m a little bit all over the place with shoes. I just like being comfortable so any shoe that’s comfortable to me I will have in my collection.”
Q4) Have you ever tried to play in Jordan’s vs true basketball shoes?
A4) “In high school I tried to play in some Jordan 10’s, man it was a tough game. I was sliding all over the place and had to tie my shoes multiple times. I did that one time and I couldn’t do it again.”
Q5) You had mentioned in your Q&A video last year that you would open your own shoe store if you don’t play professional basketball. How did you get into collecting shoes?
A5) “I’ve always just had some type of collection of shoes since I was a kid. I have a friend that lives back in Cleveland on my street that sells shoes so that opened it to me, just something I would want to do.”
Q6) Pivoting to on the court stuff for a little bit. Tell us about your high school recruiting process and how you decided to go to Fairmont State.
A6) “My high school basketball recruiting process was a little different. I was a late bloomer. A lot of people said I was small, but that didn’t stop me from reaching my goal of going to college. In high school I only had one offer so by my Junior year I was committed to Fairmont State.
I just wanted to go to a school that believed in me. The coaches that recruited me I had a good relationship with, and still have a good relationship with them to this day. Kudos to my dad for helping me become who I am too. All the workouts and paying for my workouts. Fairmont State was a blessing. I was so happy to at least have one offer so my parents didn’t have to pay for school. Now I’m here at Baylor and I’m blessed to be here.”
Q7) What went into your decision to come to Baylor from Fairmont State?
A7) “It came down to the relationships I started to build with the coaches. They were really interested in me, and made sure they talked to me every day. They tried to make me as comfortable as possible and they came up with a plan for me; academically and basketball wise.
They told me they would help me become a better man and better me in my religion. It was an easy decision for me and my family. The crazy part is I was locked in to a different school before I started talking to Baylor. But I am happy with the decision I made and it was definitely a better decision for sure.”
Q8) What are some of your favorite memories from Fairmont State?
A8) “Definitely the relationships I still have with some of the former players there or are still there. Winning the conference championship was something me and my teammates talked about the whole year. Winning that championship was everything, you set a goal throughout the year, you are talking about it, and then it happens. That was definitely one of the best things.”
Q9) How do you think going the Division II route to start your college career has shaped you as a person and player?
A9) “There’s a lot of killers in Division II that I feel like could play Division I. But it is all about opportunity and stuff like that. I feel blessed to play no matter the division; just being in college and being able to play the sport you love. I didn’t really pay attention to the division. I was just thankful to have a college offer and play the sport I love.
A lot of people don’t know that I redshirted my first year at Fairmont. Just waking up everyday, working on my game, having a routine, has helped me become the player I am. Kudos to the people I worked out every day with. Shoutout to Shammgod Wells and Joe Mazzulla, they helped me out to become the player I am today.”
Q10) Last year you stepped into big minutes with some of the injuries the team dealt with last season, what was that transition like and how did you try to be a leader as one of the older guys on the team?
A10) “It was a good experience, but it was tough seeing my teammates go down. Seeing Langston and how hard he worked everyday, seeing him go down was tough. But Langston helped me out throughout the year, talked to me throughout the games and practice. He shared the things he saw.
James being the veteran too, just talking to me. Everyone really just helped me throughout the year to get comfortable playing at the Division I level. I can’t thank them enough, just for inviting me in with open arms throughout the whole year; making me comfortable and building a relationship with me. I’m really thankful for that honestly.”
Q11) I just want to say thank you for being a clamps defender, specifically in the Gonzaga game. Do you pride yourself on your defense?
A11) “Yeah I definitely pride myself on the defensive end. I try to get my teammates going and challenge them to play defense. Usually I bring that energy off the bench, trying to attack the ball and make people uncomfortable. I try to spark my teammates too, everybody on the court feeds off of the defensive energy. It’s not just me, you know anybody on the ball that gets a deflection or a steal gets us all going. We all feed off each other’s energy.”
Q12) Did you spend a lot of time in Waco before you moved here from Cleveland and Fairmont?
A12) “No I didn’t take a visit, they showed me as much as they could on a Zoom call. Because of Covid I just had to take a leap of faith and trust God with helping me in this decision and coming to Waco. Since being here it has been nice, the weather is way better than Cleveland so I can’t complain. The people here are very nice, I’m loving it.”
Q13) What are some of the things in Waco that you like and enjoy doing?
A13) “I just like to chill with my teammates and play video games. Try to hang out with everyone. I like to go to the vintage store, Clase. That is pretty much it honestly. I really just love to play video games, workout, and hang out with my teammates. I can admit I’m not the best 2K player on the team.”
Q14) How do you think the depth on this team helps you guys get better everyday competing at practice and eventually transition to the games?
A14) “I feel like we have the best guard room in the country. We challenge each other every day and play 1’s. Just guarding the best guards all year gets us better every day. It transitions to the games, we feed off each other and try to get each other going in the games. We all complement each other so well. We just enjoy playing with each other. We all hang out together and have a relationship other than just basketball. It makes it easy in the games.”
Q15) Have you seen on Twitter that a lot of people in the Baylor Twitter community refer to you as Big Dale, and how do you feel about that nickname?
A15) “I have seen it a couple of times on Twitter, yes. I don’t mind it at all.”