Xavier Ford is a 26 year old 203cm forward from Colorado Springs, Colorado that has four years of professional experience under his belt. He began his professional career with the Grand Rapids Drive (D-League) playing 38 games averaging 2.7ppg, 1.4rpg. In the 2016-2017 season he split time with three teams in Japan with the Earthfriends Tokyo Z (Japan-B League D2) playing 8 games averaging 11.9ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 42.0%, 3FGP: 14.3%, FT: 66.7%, in Dec.’16 moved to the Cyberdyne Ibaraki Robots (Japan-B League D2) playing 16 games averaging 19.3ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 38.7%, 3FGP: 33.3%, FT: 72.4%, in Feb.’17 signed at Shinshu Brave Warriors Nagano (Japan-B League D2) playing 24 games averaging 7.4ppg, 5.3rpg, FGP: 39.1%, 3PT: 14.7%, FT: 76.6%. In the 2017-2018 season he began with AB Contern (Luxembourg-Total League) playing 20 games: Score-5 (25.0ppg), 10.8rpg, 1.1apg, Steals-3 (2.0spg), FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 71.2%, in Feb.’18 moved to St. John’s Edge (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 14 games averaging 7.4ppg, 3.6rpg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 75.0%. Last season he played with the Kapfenberg Bulls (Austria-A Bundesliga) playing 24 games averaging 12.3ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 67.6%. Hee spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Xavier thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I am currently in my home town Colorado Springs; my summer has been pretty eventful I’ve been training and coaching the youth from my neighborhood.
The summer is winding down and professional teams are slowly getting filled. You came in mid season to Austrian team the Kapfenberg Bulls (Austria-A Bundesliga) helping lead them to two titles and getting cup MVP. How can a guy like you not be signed yet?
I was fortunate enough to join a championship caliber organization, I learned a ton from Coach Mike Coffin, as you mentioned we won 2 titles and I won cup MVP. The feedback I’ve gotten thus far is my 3% which I find interesting because I am a great mid-range shooter/scorer, my size, athleticism, versatility ability to play and guard multiple positions. I’ve been working on different actions out of pick and pop, stationary, and shots off the move from the 3-point line to increase my percentages that way there’s no excuse. As a pro, you have to be honest with yourself and understand the weaknesses you have, next you must implement a plan to turn your weakness to a strength. I turned down some offers because it wasn’t smart for my career to take the deals. I see myself playing at the highest level in Europe and or the NBA, so I have to take the right steps to maximize my opportunity to achieve my ultimate goal.
Why didn’t you just remain in a very good situation or was the idea of using that success to get an even better deal and play possibly in a higher league too enticing?
I had a great time in Kapfenberg, I felt like I had to ride the momentum and leave on a high note, as a player it’s not often you win a championship, cup and cup MVP in the same season, winning is hard at any level especially as a pro so I made the decision best for myself and career.
Now with the summer winding down and fewer spots available, what is your plan now in terms of finding that right fit?
My plan is to continue to work out and stay ready, I am confident that the right offer will come up, and when it does I will be ready to take full advantage of the opportunity give.
Explain in a few sentences why you could help any team in the world now?
I bring a winning mentality and toughness in many areas of the game, I take pride in things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. I love to defend and I can score with the best of them. I am an underrated passer an elite rebounder and athlete, can guard multiple positions extremely versatile. I am willing to do what it takes to win while being a great teammate.
Last season in Austria you averaged 12.3ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 67.6%. How content were you with the season and how would you compare the level and talent of players in the Bundesliga in Austria to the other leagues you played in in Japan and Luxemburg?
I arrived late in the season so I feel like I could have played better and showcased better percentages, the first month I was trying to find my rhythm, I believe that effected my 3 point percentage, I am a better shooter than my percentages, I hadn’t played a game in 10 months before arriving to Austria. The talent level in Austria was solid in my opinion. The talent level in Japan Austria and Luxemburg was about the same, each league had different things I had to adjust to. The league that had the most talent I played in was the NBA G League for sure.
How much of a pleasure was it playing with Elijah Wilson. Would you have won two titles without his services?
Playing with Elijah was great, he and I became real close as the season progressed, we would go to the gym and work on our game before and after practice, we definitely would not have won without him. He was dominant in the playoffs, his ability to shoot opened up driving lanes and mid-range opportunities for me because his man could not help off him
Two seasons ago you started the season with AB Contern (Luxembourg-Total League) playing 20 games: Score-5 (25.0ppg), 10.8rpg, 1.1apg, Steals-3 (2.0spg), FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 71.2%. Did it at times feel like you were a man among boys?
Every time I step on the court I try and dominate on both ends of the floor, I was in a great rhythm Coach Franck allowed me to play my game and be extremely aggressive.
You had a massive 30/20 game in the manner of a Kevin Love in a tough 88-87 loss against Sparta. Did the loss lesson the joy of a great individual game?
I was extremely disappointed in that loss, yes I had a great game but I would prefer to win
You then finished the season with St. John’s Edge (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 14 games: 7.4ppg, 3.6rpg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 75.0%. In the last years whenever I have interviewed guys that have played in this league, many have stated it is a league on the rise. The talent level probably isn’t like the G-League, but talk a bit about your experiences in Canada.
I was in Canada I believe 3 months, my former college teammate Jarryn Skeete played for the team so it was like a reunion we made a good run and came up short in the finals
You had some great games when you got minutes scoring 25 points in a win against Halifax H, 24 points in 21 minutes in a victory against Niagara and 19 points in 18 minutes in a win against London. Your minutes were sporadic. You played less than 10 minutes in six other games. Why were your minutes so up an down considering when you did get a chance, you played very well.
Before I arrived, I believe the team was in second place in the standings, they put together a great first half of the season which set them up to be a number 1 or 2 seed in the playoffs, I arrived there mid-February, like you mentioned I had great games when I got minutes. As a coach, you tend to trust the guys who have been there the whole season, I believe that’s why my minutes were so sporadic. They were in a great place before I arrived so I understood the situation.
What kind of an experience was it having Ransford Brempong as a teammate?Here is a 37 year old that retired in 2010 only to come back in 2017 to resume his playing career. Did you guys have some nice battles in practice?
Rans was a great vet he brought a different perspective and approach to the game, he was a tough cover in practice because he was so active and mobile. I was impressed by his conditioning to be 37 years old, I learned a lot from him and how he approached the game on and off the court, and how to gain a mental edge over our opponent.
In your second professional season you split time with the Earthfriends Tokyo Z (Japan-B League D2) playing 8 games averaging 11.9ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 42.0%, 3FGP: 14.3%, FT: 66.7%, in Dec.’16 moved to the Cyberdyne Ibaraki Robots (Japan-B League D2) playing 16 game averaging 19.3ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 38.7%, 3FGP: 33.3%, FT: 72.4%, in Feb.’17 signed at the Shinshu Brave Warriors Nagano (Japan-B League D2) playing 24 games averaging 7.4ppg, 5.3rpg, FGP: 39.1%, 3PT: 14.7%, FT: 76.6%. You put up great stats with your first two teams. How did you manage to play for three teams in one season?
My season in Japan was defiantly an up and down year, while with Earth Friends which was my first team I avg 19.3 ppg and 8.5rpg, The team decided it was best they release myself and my teammate Zach Andrews who was at the time leading the league in blocks and rebounds. I flew home and 2 days later I was contacted by the Ibaraki Robots, they wanted me to do a month try out before they signed me to an actual contract, I played 8 games with them the month of December they decide not to honor the contract after the trial period and went another direction. A few weeks later I was contacted by the Brave Warriors late January and I finished the remainder of the season with them.
What was your wake up call to being an American in Japan where you knew that you were very far away from home?
The wakeup call came when I first landed in Japan and saw Japanese writing everywhere, and heard the language being spoken by the locals. One of the things that shocked me the most was when I got into a vehicle and saw the steering wheel was on the opposite side that I had been accustomed to seeing, that’s when it kicked in that I am no longer in America.
In Japan you played mostly with Japanese players, but with the Cyberdyne Ibaraki Robots you were teammates with Rick Rickert who was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008. Did you guys form a special relationship in the short time that you were teammates with so little other Americans around.
Rick was a great teammate and even better person, I learned a lot from him in my short stay. We would grab food after practice and discuss various topics from sports to life.
As a rookie you played with the Grand Rapids Drive (D-League) playing 38 games averaging 2.7ppg, 1.4rpg. What kind of experience was this and talk a little about how the NBA always proves that it is a business first before being aware of how a player might feel about a decision?
The NBA D league helped me a ton with my overall game, I was around a ton of NBA talent which woke me up to what certain things are supposed to look like, it also put into perspective that I needed to get a lot better. In regards to the business aspect of the NBA is really no difference from any other work force, you have to be able to produce, politics are involved everywhere you go, so that aspect of the league was the last of my worries
Obviously in the G-League players come and go, but still how beneficial was it having so much talent around. You had big guys like Adonis Thomas and Henry Sims around. Were you able to pick up valuable pointers throughout the long season?
That year with the Drive we had one of the most talented teams in the league. I was fortunate enough to play with guys like Devin Ebanks (Los Angeles Lakers) Henry Sims (Philadelphia 76ers) Brandon Jennings (Detroit Pistons) Reggie Bullock (Pistons) Spencer Dinwiddie (Pistons) Lorenzo Brown (Minnesota Timberwolves) Branden Dawson (Los Angeles Clippers) Dahntay Jones (Cleveland Cavaliers) Adonis Thomas (pistons). Coach Otis Smits was just assigned the head coach of our team he was the general manager with the Orlando Magic the year prior, he too was drafted in the NBA back in the 1986 draft by the Denver Nuggets. He had a very high basketball IQ he taught me a ton. Our assistant coaches Dion Glover and Ryan Krueger had high basketball IQs as well. The common factor they all preached was that I needed to have an even kill mindset, never get too high or too low because it’s a long season and no matter how much I played, continue to work on my game.
How did a guy like the great Dahntay Jones who won an NCAA title with Duke and an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers? How important was it having such an experienced player for a long stretch of the season?
Dahntay is a great dude, he was my roommate. I had never been around a NBA player off the court so I got a deeper look into preparation and routine it took to be able to sustain an elite level of play both physically and mentally I watched his preparation and level of consistent play throughout the season which led him to get called up by the Cleveland Cavilers and win a Championship alongside Lebron James. Watching him I learned to create a routine and stick to that agenda every single day. He showed me different tricks on defense, when he played with the Nuggets he played alongside Carmelo Anthony and had the assignment of guarding some of the best scores in the League, in the western conference finals he had to guard Kobe.
You played at Buffalo (NCAA) from 2011-2015. How tough were the first three seasons never averaging more than 4,0ppg? You had to wait your turn and had a strong senior season averaging 9,7ppg and 6,2rpg.
My first few years were defiantly tough, coming out of high school I avgeraged 27 ppg and 10 rbs per game, was a McDonalds all American nominee and was named as a 3rd team parade all-American. Coming into my freshman year I was ready to make an immediate impact but it obviously didn’t go that way. Over the years I just worked on my game and stayed in the gym. My big break came when Coach Hurley and his staff arrived! They instilled confidence in me and took my game to another level, the rest is history!
What was your fondest moment of winning the MAC tournament in 2015. How satisfying was the run and season being an important contributor to the success?
My fondest memory was holding up the championship trophy with my teammates, I was fortunate enough to be named to the all MAC tournament team and MAC Championship MVP, as I held the trophy’s I thought about all the ups and downs that led to that moment and the hard work the team showcased throughput the season. It felt amazing.
In your senior year you lost 72-51 to powerhouse Kentucky. You registered 2 blocks. Do you remember who you blocked and was it possibly a future NBA player?
I don’t remember who it was honestly
I believe there were 8 future NBA players on that team with Devin Booker, the Harrison brothers, Willie Cauley Stein and Karl Anthony Towns. What player at that time impressed you the most from that squad?
Devin Booker impressed me the most.
How did head coach Bobby Hurley groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Hurley helped me out more than I can put into words, his basketball resume speakers for itself, he was dominant in high school, led his team too 2 national championships and four final 4 appearances. He showed me what it took to win and what it looks like. He and I would sit in his office discussing ways to take my game to another level, preparation was everything with him, endless skill work and film. You have to be tough to play for Hurley he held me accountable for any and everything. I was lucky to have him come when he did. He saved my college career. We won UB its first ever Championship and loss and close one to west Virginia in the NCAA tourney, made history.
Who won a one on one then and who would win today you or Javon Mccrea?
In college Javon won most of the one on one battles, today I would win.
Who has been the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA or in Europe?
In summer runs I had to guard James Harden, he was obviously the best player I guarded during that time. But my G league teammate Devin Ebanks was extremely difficult to guard as well, in practice I used to get frustrated because he would score on so effortlessly. Great player and teammate I stole a lot of his moves.
Please list your five best teammates of all-time?
I have had to many great teammates to only name 5
Please name your personal own NBA Rushmore. Which four heads would you pick past or present for your list?
Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russel, Magic Johnson
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Michael Jordan is the greatest no question, Lebron is great but MJ is MJ
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Xavier for the chat.