Michael Holton Jr is a 27 year old 185cm guard from Portland, Oregon that is playing his second professional season and first in Germany with RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf (Germany-ProB).Currently he is averaging 18,7ppg, 4,2rpg and 3,6apg and shooting 40% from outside As a rookie two years ago he played with ECE Bulls Kapfenberg (Austria-A Bundesliga) playing 38 games averaging 8.4ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 34.1%, FT: 75.7%; He also played 6 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 10.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 27.6%, FT: 87.5%. He started his basketball career in 2010 at St.Michael’s (NCAA2) and as a senior played 17 games averaging 14.9ppg, 4,5rpg, 3,8apg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 79.6%. He spoke to German Hoops after the 2017-2018 season.
Michael thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been experiencing your second professional off season?
I’m living in Berlin at the moment and for this first part of the offseason. So far I’ve spent some time unwinding to analyze and decompress from the season, and now I’m looking to rev things back up and get ready for next year.
We didn´t speak all too long ago. You told me then that “I’m very proud of our group of guys for all the work we’ve continued to put in over the course of the season. It’s hard to take a lot of losses, but we’ve been continuously learning from them and have steadily improved up to this point in the season. We’ve been playing good basketball lately and winning our last 3 out of 4 games is a testament to that resiliency. We like how we’re playing and we like our chances heading into playdowns”. The team was unable to stay in the Pro B. How disappointing was accepting this?
This was a really hard thing to realize and accept at the end of the year. Like I had said before, everybody fought and kept putting in the work throughout the season and gave what they had.
How proud are of the guys? A consolation is that you finished the season strong at 4-2 in the playdowns. Is it fair to say that if you had won a few games more in the regular season that you would have remained in the Pro B?
Very proud of the guys. The first half of the season was really rough, but we all kept pushing and ended up finishing 4-2 in playdowns, and winning 7 out of our last 10 overall. I think it’s safe to say had we been able to fully get it going as a collective earlier in the season, we would still be in the Pro B and I also feel like we could have even also been a playoff team. We had all of the pieces we needed at the end.
You stated this in our last interview shortly before the playdowns. “Throughout the season we’ve had some injuries, roster changes, and have gone into some games undersized; we’ve needed to adjust and throw teams different looks. The entire season has been a learning process for all of us. When we defend with a high level of energy and together as a team, we’re very competitive against anybody”. Please give your personal summary of the season. What positives can you take from the season? I mean players were able to develop further despite this negative ending.
This year was a challenge for me to grow as a player and a leader. In my second professional season, I was the oldest player on the team, so I needed to not only go out and try to lead with my performance, but also bring the best out of my teammates’ games as well. I think that everybody on the team improved throughout the season in different areas and we’ll all be better off as players going forward from this season.
How positive that the club will come back strong in the Regionaliga? You played them for a season and saw how the club runs. Do you see this club having the resources to retrn back to the Pro B in a season?
Yes, I would say the club definitely has what it takes to bounce back strong next year.
In our last interview we spoke about guys like Josh Smith and Colin Craven so now let me mention some other teammates of you. How refreshing wa sit playing with Bulgarian forward Georgi Boyanov? He was a rookie after playing 4 years at S Alabama. How important was his input in his short time and what did you appreciate most about his game?
Georgi was a great addition to our team back in January. He added more size and versatility to our roster and was able to make an immediate impact in practices and in games. In the last game of the season he really showed what he was able to do when on he’s on the court with a lot of minutes. Georgi was a key component to the turn around and success in our second half of the season.
How did you see the development of young 21 year old German Daniel Kirchner? He is only 174cm and comes form the Alba Berlin system. He picked up his game in the playdowns scoring in double figures in 5 of the last 6 games. How confident are you that Stahnsdorf was just a short stop towards continuing to move up the basketball ladder.
I was really happy to see that we picked him up from the Alba system. It was great to see his development throughout the year from the preseason to the postseason. He has a lot of tools in his kit, and he was able to show that to other teams this year with his play.
Another guy that got NCAA experience at Nichols State was Luka Kamber who is German and also ahs Croatian roots. How cool is it being able to paly against a guy who played against top schools like Michigan, UCLA, Wake Forest and Wisconsin where he battled Frank Kaminsky? Did you guys ever talk about the NCAA?
For sure, we talked about NCAA ball and experiences a lot. It was great having the addition of Luka to the team back in November. He brings a lot of energy to practice daily and his experience playing NCAA D1 ball as well as having played in Germany prior to that added a lot of value for us.
Let´s talk about your game. You put up big numbers that one could consider border line for MVP if you were on a winning team. Is it tough having to accept maybe not being recognized as much having not played for a winning program?
It’s motivating to me for the further development of my game and the forward progression of my career. I want to win.
You completed your second professional season averaging 18,7ppg, 4,2rpg and 3.6apg. Your scoring average dipped a big during the playdowns. Do you feel it was an upgrade to Austria as a rookie?
This year in comparison to my first year in Austria was a chance to go from being a rookie on a team to being a leader and the oldest and most experienced player on a team, and I think that I made a lot of strides forward in my game this year.
In regards to your much improved three point shooting tis season where you ended at 40% you stated in our lats interview “Shooting is something that I’ve paid a lot of attention to over the course of my career with repetition and routine and, as long as basketball is played with a scoreboard, scoring will always be important. However, my learning curve this season has taught me that while getting good shots and the ability to score is an important skill set, true effectiveness can only come from team execution. My coaching staff and team put me in a position to get good shots and I play with a group of guys that execute”. Accurate shooting often has to do with putting in the time and shot selection, but confidence also is vital especially in a period when shots aren´t falling. How important was having the right self confidence this season for success?
Confidence is key, and you have to have it to be effective and make an impact on the basketball court.
You stated in our last interview concerning your defense. “The most important thing to me defensively is to keep the ball in front of me and to limit the amount of times our defense gets rotated. My personal challenge defensively is to not give up straight line drives towards the basket. I want to limit the amount of possessions that I give up dribble penetration, which is always a challenge for anybody who is tasked with defending primary ball handlers”. Is footwork something that is a work in process as it is continuing to fine tune one´s shot or are there also other area´s especially quickness that one can get better at?
I think that they go hand in hand, and that they’re both things you can focus on and work on when working on your body whether it be in the weight room, on the track, running stairs, hills, ladders, etc. I plan to continue improving upon my footwork and quickness this offseason in addition to other areas of my game.
Despite playing for a losing team, what did you learn this season in terms of leadership having to deal with losing more than winning? How do you feel did this losing experience help you mentally so that if you are ever confronted again with a losing situation that you will be prepared for success?
The importance of resiliency and consistency. In a basketball game there’s always going to be stretches here your team makes a run and is up, or where the other team makes a run and you’re down. Same thing can be applied to a season. It’s important not to panic, or feel too relaxed in those moments. Can’t let yourself feel too high or too low. Just keep putting in the work and stay consistent.
What is the next step for you? You had a solid season in the German Pro B, but was unable to keep Stahnsdorf in the Pro B. I can imagine you will be leaving Stahnsdorf?
I am looking to make the next steps forward in my basketball journey.
I´m saying this because next season the Pro B will only allowed one import player. That means less Americans. How tough is this to digest for you especially as a guard that are very frequent?
It’s tough but it’s part of the game and the business. It’s always a tough market for guards because there’s just so many talented guards out just so competitive.
How important was it having guys like Kameron Taylor, Jeril Taylor and Mies Jackson-Cartwright from the Pro B make the jump to the easycRedit BBL. Does that give you hope about being able to move up the next level soon especially in Germany?
It was great to see that a couple of guys from the Pro B made that jump to the BBL this season. I know what I’m capable of, and seeing some other guys get their opportunities is added motivation for me.
You mentioned guys like Demetrius Ward and Pierre Bland as the toughest players that you faced on the court in the Pro B this season. Who was one of the toughest German guards? Possibly Constantin Ebert of Wolfenbuettel?
Ebert definitely gave us a hard time. He’s a quick guard who can shoot it, get to the basket, and find his teammates early and often.
Will you change anything up during your summer workouts? You stated in our last interview that “Content is not a perspective I have as a basketball player. The goal is to always get better. How do you want to go another step with your game and get better so you will be totally ready for season 3?
This summer I’ll continue to hone my skills and work on strengthening and conditioning my body. I’m breaking down film from the season to specify the exact areas and situations that I need to improve in and become better at. I want to have a big impact on both sides of the floor this upcoming season.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
March Madness is always exciting, and there were a bunch of great moments. Seeing Loyola-Chicago make that underdog journey to the Final Four was really special.
Deandre Ayton seems lie he could be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must of seen some highlights of Real Madrid´s 19 year old stand out Luca Doncic who belonged to the best players in the Euroleague. Should a guy like that be the automatic #1 pick just from sheer experience and talent?
Whether he’s the #1 pick or not he should definitely be considered highly and be picked early. The experience and talent he’s shown so far already at a high professional level is something any team should value.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
As many as he wants to. LeBron can do so much on the court in different ways and on any given night. I think if he wanted to make a conscious effort to lead the league in assist per game average, he could do it.
What was the last movie that you saw?
In theaters, it was Black Panther.
Thanks Michael for the chat.