Mike Holton Jr is a 29 year old 185cm guard from Portland, Oregon that completed his fourth professional season and first in France with Lille Metropole Basket (France-ProB) averaging 15,1ppg, 3,2rpg and 2,2apg. He will play the 2020-2021 season for Hapoel Ramat Gan Givataim ( (Israel-National League). Two seasons ago he played with BC Zaporizhye-ZOG (Ukraine-Superleague) playing 38 games averaging 17.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 85.2%. In 2017-2018 he played in Germany with RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf (Germany-ProB) averaging 18.7ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 80.0% As a rookie 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 germanhoops.com during the Coronavirus crisis
Hi Mike where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
Hi Miles, I’m currently still in Lille, France. We just got the announcement last week that the season here will be suspended until September and that there is no possibility of returning to play this spring. My mood has been up and down honestly. Trying to remain positive because I have my health, which is most important; but the disruption of everyday life and not being able to play has been a tough adjustment.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
When I first heard about the Coronavirus, I understood that it was dangerous and affecting thousands of people, but I had no idea that it would have spread and grew to have the impact that it has had on the world now.
How have you experienced the day to day life in France during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
The lockdown in France has been in place since March 17th, and over the last 5 weeks here I’d have to say that wearing a protective mask to go grocery shopping, and figuring out ways to stay in shape while at home have been my biggest adjustments.
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing Definitely.
I bring hand sanitizer and a protective mask with me when I leave out from home, and I try to keep my distance from people when I’m out and about. For the last 2 games that we played at the beginning of March, we were advised to not shake hands with the referees, opposing players, or fans after the game. It was a really strange thing to adjust to.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
It’s been a really tough reality to deal with. Really strange and unfortunate way to end the basketball season. It’s a shame that all the hard work done over the year can’t come to a complete and clear finish.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?
I understand that playing a game without fans would be strange, but if that was the only option available for competing then I think I would do it for sure. We play and compete daily in practice without fans anyways.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
I’ve learned that there’s just always going to be things in life that happen unexpectedly, and you just have to focus on controlling what you can. I’ve also gained more perspective about things that are important to me in life, and I’m just happy to have my health at a time like this.
Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
I’ve been trying to compartmentalize this situation and relate it to something like having a season ending injury. There’s a longer road ahead now until we get to play games, and that itch to play is going to be very strong. There’s a lot of time now to recover, get stronger, work on our skills, study film, and be ready to go again when things clear up.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including French basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
There’s so many unknown variables at the moment, and it’s hard to try and make sense of everything right now. At the moment I’m just trying to focus on doing what I need to do, and remain patient and optimistic about the basketball market for the upcoming season.
How have you experienced the day to day life back home in the States? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls.
I’m actually still in France at the moment. To stay in shape I’ve been going out for runs while wearing an elevation training mask, and at home I’ve been going out on my back patio and doing jump rope and lots of different body weight and resistance band exercises.
If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
I’m often in communication with Filip Kramer, Shawn Ray, and Reger Dowell via social media. We were all teammates during my rookie season in Austria and have been close ever since then.
Let’s talk about your season in France. You had a 13-9 record and were 6th place in the France Pro B. How would you summarize your second season away from Germany?
I’d say overall that this was a successful season. The club had finished 13th last season, and we were at 6th and really picking up more momentum heading towards the playoffs. I was able to carve out a big role within our team and string together some good performances throughout the season.
Lille began the season well winning 3 of 4, then lost 6 of 9 games and then won 7 of 9 games. How confident are you that the club could have made a run in the playoffs?
I feel like we were really starting to click as a team and figure out our identity, and it showed with winning 7 of our last 9 games. We had already won games against each of the top 4 ranked teams throughout season, and I really feel like we had what it takes to go deep in the playoffs.
Let’s talk about your teammates. How cool was it being teammates with ex BBL players Sherman Gay and Adika Peter-Mcneilly? How satisfying was it for you playing with them knowing that they were BBL players when you were a Pro B player in Germany?
Those guys were great teammates and I enjoyed playing with both of them this season. They both came during the season as injury replacements and really gave our team a needed boost. With them both having recent BBL experience, it validated my belief that I can also play at the BBL level and perform well if I were given the opportunity.
Let’s talk about your game. You played with so many different nationalities. How important do you feel was this for your overall game and how did your game profit the most?
I think that my experience, having played in 4 different countries, has added a lot to my game and basketball IQ. I’ve been able to learn and add things to my game each season, and I think the ability to play in multiple different countries, with different styles and philosophies, shows an ability to fit and adapt to different teams’ needs at various levels.
Two years ago in our last team interview you stated ‘Content is not a perspective I have as a basketball player. The goal is to always get better’. How do you feel is Mike Holton a better player today then in March 2018?
Since March 2018, I’ve been able to be a part of 2 different teams having more successful seasons than the seasons they had before I got there. I think I’ve become a more consistent player and a better leader.
In our last interview you stated that ‘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 executen’. Your shooting was near 40% the last two seasons. How do you rate your shooting development the last 2 seasons as you near your prime?
I’ve been able to shoot the ball well in recent seasons, and I think this is due to understanding the types of reps and routines I need to have that work well for me. My aim is to continue improving for as long as I am able to play.
In our last interview 2 years ago you stated that ‘I don’t necessarily think that you have to get steals to play good 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’.: You may have had the best talent this season that you ever had as a professional. Did that extra added talent spark your defense?
Iron sharpens iron. Competing on a daily basis in practice with and against great players has been great for me and I believe it has helped me to improve many areas of my game, including my defense.
Last season you played with BC Zaporizhye-ZOG (Ukraine-Superleague) playing 38 games averaging 17.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 85.2%. How satisfying was it coming from German Pro B and having a great season in the first Ukrainian league?
It was an opportunity that I was ready and prepared for. I needed to pay my dues while playing in Pro B Germany, but I always knew that I could play and perform well at much higher levels. I still don’t believe I’ve reached my ceiling.
You needed no adjustment time in the Ukraine. You scored 36 points in your third game. What do you feel was the secret to your success and being so consistent in a new league?
Continuing to work on my craft, and being confident in my abilities has helped me to perform well on a consistent basis and that was evident during my season in Ukraine.
How refreshing was it being teammates with American Kyndahl Hill? He has a similar path like you as he continues fighting his way up the basketball ladder.
Kyndahl was a great teammate to have and it was fun playing together last year. I was happy to see that he had another great season. Year after year he is improving and showing consistently that he brings a lot to the table for teams.
You had huge games in the playoffs. How do you feel did your game grow during the 3 playoff series?
The playoffs have a very different atmosphere from regular season games. When you play a team up to 5 times in a row, scouting is at a high level and you still have to be able to perform well in spite of that. I gained more confidence in pressure situations in winning 2 playoff series last year and earning a medal for our team.
What was your opinion of the Horse competition that the NBA did? If you had a choice what kind of new competition would you like to see the NBA create during the Coronavirus crisis?
I thought it was interesting and entertaining. Definitely better than not having any NBA content to consume. The NBA is really progressive and it was a smart move to keep fans engaged with the players. I see that they’re launching an NBA Players-Only NBA 2K tournament as well and I think that’s also a really smart move by them.
How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now?
It’s really unfortunate for those kids who were looking forward to the March Madness experience. I never experienced playing in the tournament myself, but I would tell those kids to not let the disappointment of not playing in the tournament define their season or their careers. If they were about to be a part of March Madness then that means they were part of a special team and season this year, and I’m sure the memories from that will last with them. Let the disappointment of not playing fuel them to manifest their next goals in life
. What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Mike for the chat.