Nick Washburn is a 24 year old 208cm center from Mahomet, Illinois playing his third professional season and first with FC Porto. He played at Hillsdale (NCAA2) from 2009-2013 and as a senior played 26 games averaging 13.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.1apg, 2.1bpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 68.9%. He started his professional basketball career in 2013 with Penas Huesca (Spain-LEB Gold): 29 games: 5.5ppg, 3.7rpg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 22.2%, FT: 69.4%. Last season he played with : Amics Castello (Spain-LEB Silver) playing 40 games: Score-4(15.6ppg), 8.0rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 69.4%. Last season he was a Spanish LEB Silver Play-Off Champion. He spoke to German Hoops before the Eurocup game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Nick thanks for talking to German Hoops It has been a while since you were in cooler spots in November in Michigan or Illinois since in the last three years you have lived in Spain and now Portugal. Have you become a warm weather person over time? Lol
I definitely am enjoying the warmer winters but part of me will always love seeing snow.
What is it like playing for this great organization FC Porto? Do you feel the tradition each day when you step on the court wearing it´s jersey?
The residents of Porto have a lot of pride in their city and culture, which carries over to their sports teams as well. I’m grateful for the chance to honor the traditions Porto has worked hard to establish. It’s a privilege to play for an organization with such a rich history.
Your playing your first season for FC Porto that is currently has a 5-1 record. The club has only lost to Benfica so far. Do you see this team has possibly being the biggest opponent that the team will face?
I believe Benfica will be one of our tougher opponents when it comes to league play. They have a lot of talented individuals on their roster. That being said, I think that every week will bring new challenges, as every team will strive to play at their best against us.
FC Porto is giving up only 60 points in the LPB league. Was having defense as a team staple something that head coach Moncho Lopez stressed from day one?
Defense is an aspect that Moncho has greatly emphasized since I arrived. It is something we continually work on and are always striving to improve. Along with other goals, allowing the fewest points in the league is at the top of our list.
How exciting has it been playing Europe Cup? You are able to travel through Europe. You will play in Germany, Holland and Slovenia. Is there a place that you are most looking forward to?
Playing in this FIBA EuroCup has been a really exciting experience so far. It is always fun to travel and compete to see how you match up with teams from other countries. I am looking forward to both road trips to Germany and to Holland.
FC Porto play the Fraport Skyliners in Germany. What do you know about the country Germany and its basketball there? Do you have some friends playing in Germany currently?
I don’t know much about the basketball in Germany other than the BBL league is one that is one of the best leagues in the world. I have some friends, along with my current teammate Brad Tinsley, who have played in Germany and enjoyed their time there.
The Fraport Skyliners have a 2-0 record in Fiba Europe Cup action but grinded out two ugly wins and easily could of lost. They also are a very good defensive team. Do you see an ugly defensive game on the horizon?
It very well could be a defensive-minded game. They play good defense but also have guys that can put up big numbers so it will be a challenge for us as we see if we can go on the road and steal a game from them.
Currently in the LPB league you are averaging 9,7ppg and 7,7rpg. What kind of transition has it been coming from the Spanish leagues Gold and Silver to Portugal? Where would you rate the Portugal league in skill and style to what you saw in Spain?
It has been an easy transition playing for Moncho and his style because it is very similar to coaches that I have played for in the past. Competitively, the LPB league is similar to LEB Gold but the style of basketball that is played is very different.
What exactly is your role on the team? You are averaging the second most minutes on the team. How much are you needed as a consistent scorer on this team?
I think that roles vary with different match ups and advantages depending on the opposing team. My role is mainly focused on defense and getting rebounds, and if I feel like I have an offensive advantage I can exploit then I try to score. At the end of the day, I feel confident in my teammates so I’m not going to force bad shots and feel pressured to score because I know someone else will get a good look if I don’t have one.
You’re a big man that can score and rebound but what do you believe is a strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the floor?
I believe a strength at my position is my ability to run the floor and try to get easy points on fast breaks.
How important has experienced big man Alberto Fontet been for you as a mentor who has played many years in the Endesa league in Spain
It’s really the first time in my career that I’ve had to go against someone Albert’s height every day at practice. He has the ability to constantly challenge my shots and defensive game because he moves very well offensively. I feel like I have gotten better by going against him day in and day out.
You and the other Americans can tell NCAA stories while Spaniard Alberto Fontet could tell stories form his many years playing in the top Spanish league and FC Barcelona. What kind of a character has he been for you on and off the court? Is he more the quiet or will he share some basketball stories?
Albert is a great teammate. He is often joking and always has a great attitude. He and I have talked briefly about the great players he has played with, but I haven’t sat down much and talked to him about his past success and stories. I will have to do that in the future.
Last season you played for Amics Castello winning the Spanish LEB Silver Play-Offs over Guadalajara in 5 games. You scored in double figures in 5 games. Was that the best basketball that you ever played in such a short time?
I’m not sure if it was the best basketball I have played, but I can tell you for sure that it was the most fun. Being with that group of guys and battling against a great team in Guadalajara was very exciting. Winning the tournament after game 5 on our home court is a memory I will never forget.
What did you learn from yourself as a player and person in your second season in Spain? You were the only American and really stepped up and took responsibility averaging 15,6ppg and 8,0rpg
After my first year in Spain, I knew I really had to show people the kind of player I am. I found myself as a leader on the team and tried to play that role that on and off the court. I believe my team and coach really confided in me and gave me the platform to succeed at the level I did. I’d say that I learned how to play with double teams and just post-season experience overall was big for me.
As a rookie you played for Penas Huesca (Spain-LEB Gold). What was your wake up call to be a rookie in Spain where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I’d say my first wake up call was when we played our first couple of games. The atmosphere was intense and I quickly found out that I had a lot to learn and needed to adjust to the European style of play quickly.
You played for Hillsdale in the NCAA 2. You never won the GLIAC tournament. What do you think was missing from having had more success there?
We had some opportunities to win the tournament but we could never really close the deal. In my earlier years when we made our run at the championship, I would say we lacked experience. We were a team full of sophomores and a couple seniors that carried us. In my later years at Hillsdale, we had trouble with injuries that some guys couldn’t really bounce back from. When it’s all said and done, there really aren’t any excuses. We had a great team filled with guys capable of winning it all, but we couldn’t seem to pull out a victory against Findlay in the championship games.
You played an exhibition game against the big mighty Michigan State where you held your own. What do you remember in that game and the players you battled against?
I remember just being excited and nervous to play on such a big stage. Even though it was an exhibition game, it was fun to square up with such a great team and coaching staff at Michigan State. The final score wasn’t as close as we wanted it to be, but I remember leaving with a positive mindset about how we fought and made them earn the win.
Was this one of the first moments where you thought about having a professional career one day?
Even as a young kid, I had the thought of being a professional basketball player in the back of my mind. Basketball is something I love to do so I thought if the opportunity presented itself, I would be crazy not to live out my dreams.
How did John Tharp prepare and groom you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Tharp helped me tremendously on the basketball court and always encouraged me to play professionally. However, I think the way that he helped me the most was by being a father figure throughout my four years at Hillsdale. He inspired and guided me to be the man I am today and we still keep in touch.
Who won a one on one in practice in your senior year at Hillsdale you or Jason Pretzer?
Haha, I would have to say me, for sure.
You have been living a few months in Porto now. What so far has become your favorite spot in the city just to relax and think about basketball and life?
I really enjoy going down by the Douro River, which runs right through the city. It is filled with really nice views and great places to eat. My fiancé and I go down there to have dinner, talk and relax.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
I think the fact that he is so often compared to Michael Jordan proves that he is. To me, he is the greatest player in the game today and unguardable one-on-one. I find his game to be much different than Michael’s, but ultimately I try not to compare and simply enjoy watching greatness.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Vacation (with Ed Helms). It was pretty funny!
Thanks Nick for the chat.