Austin Hollins is a 25 year old 195cm guard from Tennessee that is the son of ex NBA player Lionel Hollins and will be entering his fourth professional season and first with the Giessen 46ers. He started his basketball career at Minnesota (NCAA) in 2010 where he played until 2014 playing a total of 136 NCAA games. As a senior he played 38 games averaging 12.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.4apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 77.1%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with Denain ASC Voltaire (France-ProB) playing 35 games averaging 8.5ppg, 1.7rpg, FGP: 62.1%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 76.9%. In the summer of 2015 he played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Brooklyn Nets): 3 games: 2.0ppg and Las Vegas (Brooklyn Nets): 6 games: 7.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 42.9%. In the 2015-2016 season he remained with Denain ASC Voltaire (France-ProB) playing 34 games averaging 12.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 59.8%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 76.6%. Last season he played with Karhu Kauhajoki (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 47 games averaging 17.2ppg), 4.7rpg, 2.6apg, Steals-3(1.8spg), FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 78.4%. He spoke to German Hoops about Basketball.
Austin thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer coming along?
I am in Memphis, Tennessee right now which is my hometown. My summer is coming along well. I have been enjoying my time off as well as working out and trying to get better.
Congrats on signing with the German team Giessen 46ers. After a stellar season in Finland, were you swamped with offers or did you pretty much take one of the first offers that came with Giessen?
There was some interest from some teams and some offers and I could’ve waited a little longer to see if more teams would come along. But, I felt this was the best fit for me. It felt right so I ran with it.
What do you know in general about German basketball and the country? Some of your former teammates at Minnesota like Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins have played in Germany. Did you get some feedback from them?
I don’t know a ton about German basketball but I know that it is a very good league and a high level of competition. 2 of the 3 guys mentioned had short stints in Germany but I’ve gotten positive feedback from all of them about their experiences and I’m excited for the upcoming season.
You will be joining a very ambitious club with Giessen that are rich in tradition, but haven’t won a league title since the 70´s. they also have a new head coach with Ingo Freyer who likes to play run and gun and where giving up 100 points isn´t a rarity. Do you see yourself being the defensive enforcer this season?
I’m excited for what Gießen is building and I’m glad to be a part of it. I love to play defense so I will try my best to help the team in that area.
Your ex coach at Minnesota Richard Pitino said that you are a coaches dream and have an excellent work ethic. Was this something you inherited from your dad Lionel or something he taught you?
It was definitely something I inherited from father but it was also something that both my parents preached to me growing up so that I was able to sustain that over the years.
You can fill the stat sheet and are an excellent defender. To what NBA player would you describe your game to and what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I would compare my game to Richard Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince. I would say that a hidden strength for me would be my ability to move without the ball and be in the right spot when I don’t have the ball. There are a lot of little things that a player can do without the ball to help the team that often times get overlooked.
You played your first two seasons in the France Pro B and last season in the weaker Finnish league and now in your fourth season have made the jump to one of the top 5 leagues in Europe. What besides hard work the last 3 years has helped you get to this point in your career?
I think trusting the process has been the second biggest thing. You can put in all the work you want but you have to believe that the work you put in will get you to where you want to go. The biggest thing is trusting in God’s plan for me.
In your first two seasons in France, you didn´t really explode as an offensive player until last season in Finland. Did you feel that when you came to Europe in 2014 that you could be an impact offensive player which you became in your third season.
I knew that I had the capability to be that type of player. It was just a matter of putting in the work and then getting the opportunity in the right situation. However, I have grown so much as a player over my career in Europe and I’m not the same player that I was in my first year.
You had many Americans on the team last season, but you were the go to guy. How do you feel did your game develop in Finland and did your leadership skills make strides as well?
I think that I made huge strides while in Finland in all areas of my game because I was forced to take on a role that I wasn’t used to having.
You played your first two seasons with Denain ASC Voltaire (France-ProB) and was a pro B finalist in 2015 as a rookie. Your teammate was the very much experienced Jeb Ivey who played two seasons in Germany 10 years ago and is still playing at age 37. How vital was his presence for a young buck like yourself being a rookie in Europe?
Having Jeb Ivey as a teammate for two years was huge for me. Being a rookie in Europe is not easy and he really took me under his wing. Seeing first hand the work ethic and dedication it takes to be a pro at a high level for such a long time really helped to jump start my pro career. Jeb is someone who has given me great advice. He was a great teammate and will be a friend for life.
What was your wakeup call to being a rookie in France where you knew that you were very far away from home in Germantown, Tennessee?
The very first encounter I had with someone who did not speak English. The language barrier was one of the toughest things for me because not only did I have to deal with being in a completely different country but a lot of people didn’t speak English and there is no way to communicate if neither person speaks the other’s language. Fortunate for me I had teammates to help me through that.
You had a stellar 4 year career at Minnesota(NCAA). You played under Richard Pitino as a senior, but had Tubby Smith in your first three seasons. How did Smith groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Smith was one of the toughest coaches I played for but in a good way. I learned how to be mentally tough and how to deal with adversity. He taught me the true importance of being a professional on and off the court.
You played three seasons with Andre Hollins at Minnesota(NCAA) who has no relation to you. How did you get the total best out of his existence on and off the court and how did he profit from you?
Andre and I really pushed each other to be the best players we could be. We really complimented each other and played well together. I think me being the older player I was able to take Andre under my wing and help him through things that I had already dealt with. Although we are not related, we are just like brothers.
You won the 2014 NIT final against SMU 65-63 where the Hollin´s boys combined for 33 points. Do you still have the last seconds running in your mind as if it was yesterday?
When I think about it the game the last second definitely are very clear in my mind. That was the greatest moment in my college career. I have since moved on and don’t dwell on those times but It was an amazing moment that I’ll never forget.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
It’s hard to pick just one player that I played against in college because so many great players have come out of the Big Ten. Some went on to have good NBA careers and some are still trying to stick. It would be Draymond Green who was the best player I played against. I did not guard him but he was the type of player that can change the game with his presence.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Andre Hollins?
Me of course. If you ask Andre the answer might be different but don’t let him fool you.
You had a lot of NBA around you when you were a kid as your dad was on the coaching staffs of various teams. What is your fondest NBA story of when you were a kid growing up?
That’s too hard to pick just one memory but the main thing I can think of was just going to all the games as a kid and being able to watch some great players.
You played against future NBA players in almost every game and there were countless examples where you held your own in numerous games, but for example when you were a junior you beat UCLA by 20 points and scored 16 points while dishing out seven assists against future NBA players like Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson or Norman Powell. When you remember a game like this and what you did on the court is the difference to these NBA players in skill level more minimal than not?
I don’t think about that game a lot. I believe that I can hold my own against anyone because I’m a competitor. I just go out and play the game. I don’t think about too much else. All of those players are very skilled but it’s a lot different when you are playing in a 5 on 5 setting. A lot of factors go into the game and it more about the teams performance rather than just one player.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson
If Lebron wins a fourth NBA title, where will he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with the best of all-time?
He will never be greater than Jordan. His statistics may measure up but it’s more than just that. Jordan was a different beast.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
Not sure about this one.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
There are always going to be amazing performances in the NBA so I just appreciate them when they come along however seldom they may be.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
I guess you could say that stat wise yes but I don’t like to rank players based off of only statistics because the game is so much more than that.
Is Lonzo Ball the real thing? Do you feel like he will be able to develop further despite the antics of his father on social media?
Despite all the antics, I think that Lonzo Ball is a very good player for his age. He has all the tools necessary to make an impact in the league. It will depend on how hard he works and where he goes from here.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell.
Whether it’s true or not I don’t think it is a fair assessment given that Russel Westbrook brings so much to his team and he’s a true competitor.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Wonder Woman (You have to love Marvel movies)
Thanks Austin for the chat.