Otis Livingston II (180-PG-1996, college: GMU) is a 25 year old 180cm point guard from Linden, New Jersey that will play his fourth professional season and first in Germany with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. He played his first three professional seasons in Denmark with Horsens IC, in North Macedonia with KK Kumanovo 2009 and last season with KK Mladostz MaxBet Zemun in Serbia. He began his basketball career at Linden High School and then played at George Mason (NCAA) from 2015-2019 amassing a total of 132 NCAA games. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his career this summer.
Otis thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Thank you for having me. I am currently in New Jersey. I am working out in the weight room and on the court. I enjoy playing golf too so I am spending some time on the course as well.
Congrats on signing with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. After playing in Denmark, North Macedonia and Serbia, you now will battle in the highest league that you have ever played in easyCredit BBL. What have you heard about this league over the years playing overseas?
I have heard that the BBL is a very strong league. I have heard that is physical with a lot of size. They have a couple of teams that play in international competitions so that will be fun for me. It’s a league that is very good from top to bottom and I am excited to participate.
You have joined the ambitious club Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. How did the talks go with head coach Sebastian Gleim and what were the main reasons for taking this challenge?
The talks were great with Coach Gleim. We talked about how he uses his point guard and what he expects out of me. It was great to talk about his philosophy and his background as a coach. We have a basic understanding of each other which will improve over time.
In the last three years coaches Iisalo and Gleim made the right choices signing unproven guards Russell, Bell-Haynes and Shorts who all had impressive seasons. They had a good track record. Do you feel any pressure coming in needing to keep the fine point guard position running successful?
I don’t feel any pressure to be honest for that reason. I hold myself to a high standard of excellence on the court so any pressure that I will feel will just come from wanting to be the best I can be, not by thinking of the past guards that were here.
Let’s talk a bit about your game. You’re a 180cm guard that has been a proven scorer your whole career. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?
If I had to choose a player to compare myself to I will choose Chris Paul. He is undersized and runs the team well. He can also exploit mismatches on the court and he is really cerebral.
You can fill up the stat sheet nicely and have shot the ball very well from outside the last 2 seasons. What other strength does your game incorporate?
My passing ability is a talent of mine that I really take pride in. I grew up playing the game as a pass first point guard, so that is natural for me. I can score the ball too but my passing ability is also at a high level
You also have showed that you’re a very gritty and aggressive defender. You have developed very well as a defender. What kind of defender are you now and what kind do you want to become?
I’m a defender that picks up 94 feet and puts pressure on the opposing guards. In the future I want to become a more physical defender, to use my size and center of gravity as a strength.
You really picked up your playmaking as a professional while becoming more of an explosive scorer. How do you explain your rise in these statistics the last 3 years?
It’s a combination of a couple things. My confidence is at a high level, my work ethic is at a high level, and the coaches have put me in positions to be an explosive scorer and playmaker. All three of those factors combine to explain my rise in playmaking and scoring these past three seasons. I hope to continue to make improvements this season.
On what area’s of your game will you be working on most this summer so you will be very well prepared for the German BBL?
I will be working on my strength and confronting and also my footwork. I will always work on my game as far as dribbling and shooting, but those areas that I mentioned first will be what I focus on too in order to be prepared for this upcoming season.
Last season you played for KK Mladost MaxBet Zemun (Serbia-KLS) averaging 22.8ppg), 4.0rpg, Assists-2 (6.6apg), Steals-2 (2.4spg), FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 87.9%. You had an incredible playoff series against Borac Ca averaging 28,0ppg, but it wasn’t enough as your team lost. What will you always remember from this series?
Playoffs are a special time of year and I will remember this season by losing our first game and having to win the next game in order to win the series. It was backs against the wall for us and we showed tremendous fight by winning Game 2 at home. I played at a high level and I was in a really good groove that series and I just remember my confidence during that time and playing well.
In your second professional season you played for KK Kumanovo 2009 (North Macedonia-Prva Liga) averaging 18.7ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-3 (6.8apg), Steals-1 (2.6spg), FGP: 59.8%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 80.6%; and in the Balkan League averaged (18.0ppg), 3.3rpg, Assists-2 (6.1apg), Steals-1 (2.0spg), FGP: 62.9%, 3PT: 44.8%, FT: 81.0%. You played another great playoff series against MZT Skopje but lost a 94-93 heartbreaker despite putting up 17/5/10 stats. Was this one of your tougher loses as a professional?
Yes, that series against MZT was a tough and fun one. The loss in Game 3 was one of the tougher losses of my career. I believe if we win that game, we have a good shot at winning the whole thing. Anytime you lose in the playoffs and the season is over, it is tough and you remember that feeling forever.
You played your rookie season for Horsens IC (Denmark-BasketLigaen) averaging 12.1ppg, 3.0rpg, Assists-3 (5.0apg), 1.4spg, FGP: 61.4%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 78.4%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie overseas where you knew that you were very far away from home?
My wake up call came when I just remember my play being up and down. It was a different style of play, shorter shot clock and just a different environment as well. It was a tough time and season but I learned a lot about myself and the game during that season.
You played 4 seasons at George Mason (NCAA). How would you classify your development there? You delivered consistent stats right from the start.
My development was great at George Mason. The coach gave me an opportunity from the start to play a lot and that is the best way to learn, through experience. I worked really hard to be an important piece of the team and it showed through my play on the court.
You had some really huge games in the NCAA against schools like St Louis, VCU, or Baylor. What do you remember being your greatest moment in the NCAA?
My greatest moment from a personal standpoint was scoring 33 points and winning against UMASS on the road. As a team it will be when we beat Fordham in the A10 tournament and we were down by 7 with 34 seconds left. We forced overtime and eventually won in overtime.
How did head coach David Paulsen groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Coach Paulsen held me to a high standard. He added to my confidence and held me accountable. He also runs a European type of offense and defense. A combination of those two things helped prepare me for European basketball.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jaire Grayer?
We played a lot of times and I would say it is 50/50. I loved playing against him because he is stronger and taller so it helped make me a better player.
Who was the toughest guy that you faced in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
London Perrantes from UVA was really good. He is a point guard and the way he controlled the pace of the game and how he influenced the game really stood out to me.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Jaire Grayer, Roberto Gallinat, Shane Gibson, Jarred Reuter, Strahinje Gavrilovic.
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore?
Michael Jordan ,Kobe Bryant , Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, LeBron James.
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
It’s hard because I didn’t watch Jordan how I watch LeBron. It is hard to answer that question because of the different eras and what players had access to at different times could be proven to give an edge possibly. It is a hard debate and that is a question I don’t answer.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I did not see the sequel. I saw the original and I love it. I heard the movie was average but I like to see things for myself before passing judgement.
Thanks Otis for the chat.
Tags : OTIS LIVINGS