Folarin Campbell is a 30 year old 193cm shooting guard/small forward playing his ninth professional season and second with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL). He comes from Silver Springs and played at George Mason from 2004-2008 reaching the NCAA Final Four in 2006. He finished career at George Mason ranked fourth all-time in assists (392), fifth in three-point field goals attempted (489), sixth in three-point field goals made (163) and eighth in scoring (1,545 points). He is the only player in school history with 1,500 points, 450 rebounds, 350 assists, 150 3-pointers, 100 steals and 50 blocks. Before he turned professional, he played at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft) playing 3 games averaging 12.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 3.0apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 37.8%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 83.3%. As a professional he has played in countries like Germany where he played for teams like Artland, Bonn and Ludwigsburg and in Italy, Greece and Poland. Last season he played for Energa Czarni Slupsk (Poland-TBL) playing 37 games averaging 11.0ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 27.7%, FT: 67.4%, He spoke to German Hoops recently when he was in Oldenburg playing Champions League.
Folarin thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. When I think about your career, I remember you early in your career in Germany with Artland and Bonn in your second and third seasons, but I hardly remember your time in Ludwigsburg two seasons ago. What kind of experience was that for you playing for head coach John Patrick?
It was a great experience. My time was cut short because of an injury. But the couple months I was able to play for coach Patrick were good. He is a players coach and he gives you a lot of freedom to be yourself on the court. It also helped that he was from the same state as me in the US so we were familiar with each other prior to Ludwigsburg.
Now you are back in Oldenburg. What memories do you have of playing against this team over the years? I remember you won a tight 74-72 contest with the Telekom Baskets Bonn where you scored 17 points.
Well I don’t really remember that individual game to well. But I do remember the city and the atmosphere in that gym. The fans are great and passionate about their team. I’m excited to come back and play in this gym. I know it will be a hostile environment.
Early in your career you played against Rickey Paulding who has become one of the identity figures of the German BBL. He hasn´t slowed down at age 34. What memories do you have of this high-energy player?
You said it. He hasn’t slowed down a bit. He was athletic then and still is at his age of 34. He still plays with a lot of energy on the offensive and defensive side and that what impresses me. He is a good players and still has some gas in the tank.
You are playing your ninth professional season and for your 11th team. Do you feel like a basketball globetrotter at times?
I have definitely been all over Europe and I love it. Being able to travel the world doing what I love in life is an awesome feeling. Wouldn’t change it for anything else.
This is your second season for BK Ventspils after playing there in the 2012-2013 season. After three seasons in warmth in Italy and Poland, did you miss the cold again? Lol
Hahaha. I did not miss the cold weather at all but being from Maryland I’m kind of used to the cold weather. Would rather be where it is warm but these snowy days do not affect me much.
You are playing for a team with a rich basketball tradition. What kind of experience has it been for you playing for this team and does one feel the tradition in and around the city?
Well it has been great. The expectations are always high and the fans are amazing. They bring out the best in you every game.
BK Ventspils have a 12-1 record in the LBL league. What has been the secret to being at the top? Does the competition level suffer a bit to really give the team tough opponents on a regular basis?
The Latvian league is pretty good. It’s a league where anything can happen on any given day. It’s a league where if we go into the game thinking we already have the win we will end up in a dog fight. The league keeps us mentally strong each game knowing we will not just get the win because of the names on our jersey. We get the best from our opponents every game and we have to bring it every game or we will lose.
BK Ventspils is 5-5 in the Champions League and playing better than their record shows. What has been the biggest difference in this competition in comparison to the LBL league?
There is definitely better competition in the Champions league. But the only reason I think we are struggling a little is because of certain injuries to key guys and not being able to finish the game strong in the 4th quarter on the road.
On many other teams you would be one of the oldest at age 30, but with BK Ventspils you have 36 year old Willie Dean and Latvian basketball legend Kristaps Janichenoks at age 33. Do you have less of a leadership role?
Playing with Willie and Kristaps makes things a lot easier on the court. Takes a lot of pressure of me and it allows me to go play freely because they take most of the load.
How content have you been with your season so far? Are your stats there where they should be for the minutes that you are attaining?
I’m happy with how the season is going in the Latvian league. Not so happy with the Champions league. I feel like we beat ourselves in a couple of those games that we lost. I’m not so worried about my individual stats but more of the teams success. I just want to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful.
How much of a pleasure has it been playing with American Willie Dean. At the age of 36 he still seems to be going strong. Has he given any hints as of when he will retire?
Willie is a cool guy. Great teammate. I always forget that he is a little older. Lol. He plays hard every game and there is no sign of him slowing up. I think he can play another 2 years at a high level.
How can an experienced guy like you still learn valuable basketball skills from a guy like Willie Dean?
I’m learning how to take care of my body. The longevity of his career has been how he takes care of his body during the season and in the offseason.
You have played most of your career in Italy. What did you learn to appreciate most about the league and lifestyle which always prompted you to come back?
The Italian league is very competitive. Love the competition every single game. I know how important each game is and there is no easy games in the Italian league. The fans are awesome as well. They bring energy every game.
You played your fourth professional season with Ass.Pallacanestro Sant’ Antimo in Italy and your teammate was ex NBA player Troy Bell. How important was he for you that season in further helping your development as a player?
Troy was a great teammate to play with. I was much younger when we were playing and he taught me more about things off the court and how to handle the business aspect of basketball in Europe. He had the knowledge and experience so I just took all of that and feel like I’ve been making better decisions dealing with different teams in Europe.
You ex teammate with Bonn Chris Ensminger has been a coach for years in the German second division. He was 37 when he was your teammate. Did you sense then that he might get into coaching just from what you remember from his character on and off the court?
I knew he was going to be a coach after Bonn. He had a lot of knowledge and experience of the European game. He was a good player and I figured he would be a good coach.
With the Artland Dragons you had many great teammates as well as character guys. One guy I know you will never forget is Darius Hall. What one play on the court will always standout for you and what phrase or off court thing will always stay with you when you hear his name?
Darius Hall. Hahaha. Great guy. I just remember all his antics off the court. He was a good player but also a great entertainer. He played well and kept the crowd entertained. Whether it was crazy facial expressions or gestures to the crowd on the court or him going into the fan section grabbing the drums and marching across the court banging the drums. Lol
You played with Darryl Monroe only one season at George Mason before a medical redshirt season knocked out his second season while you were a senior. Recently you played against him in the Champions League as he plays with Usak. Last season he belonged to the best centers in the Winner League in Israel. How has his game progressed since George Mason?
Darryl has become an elite European player and will get his chance to play at a high Level. He has become a more consistent scorer and he has always been a good rebounder and passer. I just think people are noticing now because he is doing it on a bigger stage and the teams that he has been on are winning.
Who wins a one on one you or Willie Dean?
If I play Willie. I know it’s going to be a great game. I’m going have to play him one on one full court hoping he gets tired because he is old. Lol.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Michael Jordan Shaquille O’Neal Kobe Bryant Tim Duncan
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
He is definitely top 3 of all time players right now. He has done so much for the NBA and he has changed the game of basketball because of the type of player he is. We have never seen a player built like him and he breaking all types of records and still has 4-5 more years left to play.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
KG is arguably the top 2 power forwards to play the game. It’s between him and Tim Duncan for top 2 power forwards to ever play the game.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Folarin for the chat.