Aaron Harrison is a 25 year old 198cm guard from Texas that is playing his 6th professional season and first with Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-Euroleague). He played the last 2 season with Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). From 2015-2018 he played in the NBA for teams Charlotte and Dallas playing a total of 35 games. He also spent time in the G-League for teams like the Oklahoma City Blue, Erie Bay Hawks Greensboro Swarm, Delaware 87ers, and the Reno Bighorns . He played at the University of Kentucky from 2013-2015 playing a total of 79 NCAA games averaging 13.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 79.0% as a freshman and 11.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 78.2% as a sophomore. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Euroleague game against FC Bayern Munich in Germany.
Hi Aaron thanks for talking to germanhoops.com 2020 changed the world in so many ways. How does it feel being a professional player with all the regulations that you have to observe on a daily basis?
I’m just very thankful that I can still play at a high level. This whole period has been tough not being ablet o see my family and friends the way I wanted to. It’s just been different a big adjustment
How did you experience COVID 19 the last months in the States? What was the most challenging thing that you had to experience on a daily basis?
The toughest thing was not being able to get into the gym the way I wanted to. Sometimes gyms were open and sometimes not. I think I was consistently in the gym like for 3 weeks out of the 3 months that I was home.
How do you feel has COVID-19 made you stronger as a man in 2020?
I think the big thing was just having to adjust to things and being able to learn to deal with things.
Your playing your first season for Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-Euroleague). With what kind of feelings are you going into this season playing only during the week and having the weekends off?
We just practice during the weekends. It has been tough a new adjustment for me having only 1 game a week. I think you have to look at the positives being that this gives your body a good opportunity to rest. I think that COVID-19 actually could add a few years to my career.
Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-Euroleague is a very interesting team. It has 3 Americans with Martin, Mckkisic and Ellis all coming into the Euroleague, 2 ex NBA players with you and Jenkins and many talented Greek players. How have you seen this team develop so far?
I feel that as a team we are getting better every day. The biggest thing that we have is that we have such a deep team, that we have no drop off. What makes us so good is that nobody will play bad, because all know that they will play. That makes us more dynamic.
What has it been playing with 38 year old Greek legend Vassilis Spanoulis? How incredible of a player is he and can you soak up things from him?
He is definitely super competitive and always wants to win and at all cost. You don’t see that in the NBA. In the NBA it isn’t important to win every night. It is refreshing to see how he wants to win so much. He also will let you know when your not doing your job. The most important thing for him is always to win. He is so determined and want to take his focus with me.
Last week you beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 85-82 on a buzzer beater. You have had quite a few buzzer beaters in your career. How did this one feel?
That buzzer beater was a great feeling. I was very excited that coach gave me the ball in that situation instead to one of the veterans. I’m very comfortable getting the ball in that situation and winning the game with the last shot. I also don’t mind missing shots. It may bother other guys, but it doesn’t bother me.
You played the last 2 seasons with Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) putting up very consistent stats averaging in scoring in double figures and shooting over 40% in the BSL and Eurocup. How do you feel have you grown as a player in Europe?
I think that the biggest thing that I learned the last 2 years was just learning to be more efficient. You can’t take 25 shots in Europe just because a team may need it. But you have to do those things what the team really needs to win. What I really enjoy in Europe is that it’s all about winning and not stats.
After beginning the 2017-2018 season with the Reno Bighorns (NBA G League) averaging 18.8ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 42.7%, FT: 83.5%, you signed Mar.’18 with the Dallas Mavericks (NBA) playing 9 games averaging 6.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 38.5%, 3PT: 20.9%, FT: 76.5%. How sure were you after your 45 point game against Oklahoma with Reno that you would land back in the NBA?
At that moment I felt like I could land back in the NBA. I was dominating at that time. I felt that that was the time then. All they needed was shooting and I was giving that.
One hears the coolest stories concerning Dirk Nowitzki. How did you experience him as a teammate and what did it mean for you to be teammates with him?
I really didn’t interact much with Dirk at that time. It was near the end of the season for them. What I can remember about Dirk the most was how big his presence was and how much respect he got. It was the same at away games. I just remember watching him as a kid on TV. So it was cool being able to be teammates with him.
In the 2016-2017 season you played with the Charlotte Hornets (NBA) playing 5 games and played also with the Greensboro Swarm (D-League) averaging 17.9ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 82.1%, in Feb.17 and with the Delaware 87ers (D-League) averaging 17.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 48.2%, FT: 83.8%. You began the season in the NBA and then played for 2 G-League teams. How difficult was it going back to the G-League and were you expecting a call up towards the end where you were putting up consistent stats?
Yes I did. I understood about the politics in the NBA then, but I felt that I was the best on the team. I wanted and expected a call up. I understand now better than then that in order to reach the NBA, it’s more about only being the best on the team.
What was it like playing with Kemba Walker? What is missing for the Celtics and Walker to win a NBA title?
Kemba is a great dude and one of my favorite players that I have played with. He was so cool and humble. I honestly didn’t watch too much of that series against the Miami Heat. Maybe the Heat were too tough and the Celtics needed more of that from the players. Brad Stevens is a great coach and the team has gotten better. I’m sure that they will get over the hump.
In your rookie season you played with the Charlotte Hornets (NBA) playing 23 games: 0.8ppg, and also played with the Oklahoma City Blue (D-League) playing 4 games averaging 9.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.8apg, in Mar.16 joined the Erie Bay Hawks (D-League) playing 9 games averaging 21.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 84.0%. You were with Charlotte from November to May with stops in between in the D-League. What do you feel was the most important thing you were able to soak up in the NBA as a rookie?
I had a frustrating rookie year. I was trying to understand the business side. As a kid all you think about is I’m good enough for the NBA. I felt like I had deserved more of a chance then what I got. But I am very thankful for the experience. Coach Clifford was great. I feel that I could have gotten the job done had I got more of a chance.
What will you remember from the 101-82 win against the Lakers where Kobe Bryant scored 23 points in 23 minutes off the bench? Were you a Kobe fan as a kid like so many others?
Growing up I was a huge Kobe fan. It was cool playing against him and seeing him up close. I don’t remember too much since I was on the bench. At least now I can say that I played in the same game as Kobe.
You also beat your ex Kentucky teammate Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. How have you followed his career and isn’t time he plays for a winning program?
I am very excited for him and how his career has gone. I really think that he is in an amazing experience with the Suns. Maybe he would not have developed the way he has had he not gone to the Suns. Maybe he would have landed with a team that won more, but things not work out. Other than not winning with the Suns, he has done everything. What else can one ask of him. Things can’t always be perfect. He will figure them out.
You saw how the NBA worked for 3 years when you were up and down between the NBA and the G-League. What was the best example that you witnessed that showed that the NBA will always be a business first before anything else?
I don’t know. I have experienced and seen so much. I just remember the NBA Summer League times as being very frustrating. I could be the best in practice, but then only play 5 minutes in a game. There are a lot of politics involved with teams focusing on the draft picks. I accepted the situation and was able to cope with it.
You played NBA Summer League in 2018 and 2019. How much of a priority is the NBA still for you? Your only 25. A guy Like PJ Tucker played in the NBA and then some years in Europe and then returned to the NBA and never came back to Europe.
It would be super cool and a dream of mine if I could return back to the NBA. But I’m not dwelling on it that much at the moment. If a team wanted me, then I would jump at the situation. But I have to say that at the moment, I’m really enjoying my life in Europe. What I really enjoy here is that trying to win every possession is basketball at it’s purest. What else can I ask for. The love to win every possession and to win is the beauty of Europe
You played at the University of Kentucky from 2013-2015. What kind of experience was it playing for the Wild Cats and do you ever wonder where you might be today had you played longer in the NCAA?
No I don’t wonder about that. I actually have wondered more where I would be today had I only remained 1 year at Kentucky. My time at Kentucky was amazing. It was just great beginning there and playing for coach Calipari. Playing basketball at Kentucky reminds me a lot of Europe. There it was also about winning every possession.
What kind of a relationship do you and your twin brother Andrew have? Do you talk every day and is it like a dream to one day play on the same team again?
We talk 3-4 times a day. It’s not really a dream now to be reunited again on the same team. The most important thing that we want for each other is to be as successful as possible and just be happy with life.
What memories do you have of your back to back three point winners against Michigan and Wisconsin in the 2014 NCAA tournament? Was one more special than the other?
No I don’t. Both were cool. I get reminded of those games and my game winners a lot. It is really cool being a part of tournament history. Those were awesome times and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How did head coach John Calipari groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
The most important thing I got was that competitive edge and confidence. You really needed confidence in order to deal with him. He tested you a lot. In order to deal with all the pressure there, you needed to have extreme confidence. I really built my confidence level there.
Who wins a one on one in practice you or your brother Andrew?
It really depends on the day. Each one of us can win. I would say 60-40 for me.
What do you remember from the Jordan Brand Classic 2013 and Dennis Schroeder. Did you feel like he could become that good NBA point guard?
I don’t want to lie. I don’t remember him now from that game. He is a great scoring guard. If he is put in the right situation then he is effective. I really like his game.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that later would go to the NBA?
I really have no idea. I played against so many great players. I remember Florida being the toughest team I played as a freshman. I remember them having guys like Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
My whole High school team, my brother Andrew, David Stockton (He really helped me understand the politics when I was at Reno), Alex Poythres (great dude. Everybody that meets him likes him right away. He is a great family guy and good friend), Jon Korkmaz (He is a good dude. Even if I was the best on the team last season, he still pushed me. I really appreciated that. We still talk every 2 weeks)
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players.
Jordan, Lebron, Kobe, Iverson
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Jordan is great. Lebron has been a talent that we have never seen before. Jordan is the greatest and Lebron maybe the best that we have seen.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I watched 2 really good Amazon series called the Boys and the Hunters.
Thanks Aaron for the chat.