After four years at Mississippi State, 6-foot-10 forward Aric Holman looks to start the next chapter of his life as a professional athlete.
Holman had a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) that ranked Top 10 in his conference while also finishing Top 5 in box plus-minus two years in a row. He ranked Top 10 in blocks per game among all players in the SEC for three consecutive seasons and improved his three-pointers per game each season in college, connecting on 43.3 percent of his outside shots in his final two years.
He caught up with HoopsHype to discuss how he will fit in the NBA and gave us a little more insight into his life off the court.
Tell me a little bit about how you have been preparing for the 2019 NBA draft.
Aric Holman: The last few weeks have been back-and-forth finishing school to training in Los Angeles. I feel I’m ready to make a big jump now that I am fully focusing on my training. We’re working on a little bit of everything, which includes things I’m already good at like shooting and my versatility. I’m also focusing on my body and getting in the best shape as possible.
How important was it for you to get your degree at Mississippi State?
AH: My degree was very important to me. I got it in communications and I knew the NBA wasn’t going anywhere. I was thinking about the longevity after basketball and having a plan ready just in case my dream did not work out.
Last season was your most impressive season as a three-point shooter. How did you improve from long distance?
AH: I spent time working on my game, building confidence in myself and trying to be consistent. I spent a lot of nights putting up shots and whenever I caught it wherever I was, I felt confident that the shot would go down. That’s what allowed me to be more aggressive and more comfortable when I was out on the wing. I worked on my range in case someone ran me off the line and I had to make a play for myself.
You’re 6-foot-10 but also a great shooter. What positions did you play growing up?
AH: Growing up, I was always bigger than everyone else in my age group. So my father made me play up so when I was in sixth grade I played against seventh and eighth graders. I was a point guard or a two and that’s where my instincts for the game came from. I took that skill set and added it as I got older. I added some post moves and combined it all together as I got older. My coaches have been comfortable with me pushing it on the break and my coaches knew I could play any position and learn the whole playbook and put others in a position for success.
How did your college recruiting process go and how did you end up playing for Mississippi State?
AH: It was really tough because all through high school, I had no offers until my senior year. That last summer, by the grace of God, there was finally real interest. I just wanted to make a change wherever I went and I really wanted that challenge. They were in a slump when I got there and I wanted to leave there with the program back on top and I feel like I achieved that goal.
How did that challenging process help you prepare for the NBA draft?
AH: It helped me with my patience and sticking to my gut. I’ll do what I do and I’m not going to change much, not going to much new. I just want to be myself and won’t make the wrong move and make sure I see everything that comes up with careful attention and not react too fast.
What about your game will adapt the best to the next level of basketball?
AH: I would say my versatility just because I can do a little bit of everything. I can switch and guard smaller defenders, I can shoot the three. I can put it on the floor and whatever role that the coach tells me I have to do, I know that I can adapt and make the best out of it. I know I can play well on catch-and-shoot opportunities but I feel I have way more to offer, too. I’m glad that my college coach put me in that position because if he didn’t test me to work on my shot I wouldn’t be in this position. But I know I can be more aggressive off the dribble and attacking, too.
I envision you as someone who can cut very well to the basket in the NBA. How do you think that is something that can translate?
AH: I will always pay attention to my defender and have a feel for the game, knowing which way people are going to drive and make sure they see you. It is all about timing. You don’t want to go too early because if your defender sees you cutting, your defender will always for help and then neither one of us will be open on the offense.
What of your accomplishments thus far have made you the proudest?
AH: I loved that I became more of a vocal leader. Helping others when they’re in a slump goes a lot further than basketball. I was happy to do that and be a better person by doing that, too. I didn’t step into that role until my senior year of high school and going into college. Being able to communicate and see the difference with how people react when it’s their peers relating to them and it allowed me to build bonds and become a better player off of it.
What are some of the things that you do with your time when you’re off the court?
AH: I watch a lot of basketball. But I also love to learn new ideas and listen. Sometimes, it’s good to take your mind off basketball and read. I want to learn as much as I can. I’m reading a magazine about money. If my dream comes true, I’m going to be in a position where I need to know how to handle it and take care of it and make sure everything is okay. You can never have too much information.
What are some of the other things you want your team to know about you?
AH: My demeanor shows I’m laid back but I get locked in and I have that fire under me. I really love the game. I get motivated by not being known. I hate failing, which makes me more aggressive. When it comes to basketball, I’m never going to let someone outwork me. My personality off the court is a little different because I’m a nice guy and I love to meet new people. But on the court, I don’t care who is in front of me. That switch turns on and I prove to people I deserve to be out there.
What are your biggest motivators to keep yourself successful on this path you’ve chosen?
AH: I really want to be a role model for the kids that look up to me back home. I’m trying to show them there are ways to be successful. I’ll always talk to them and see how things are going. Sometimes, that’s all someone needs.