By Dionysis Aravantinos / @AravantinosDA
At 21, Louis Olinde is considered one of the best European NBA prospects of the upcoming NBA Draft. Playing for Bamberg in one of the best domestic leagues in Europe (BBL – German League) and one of the best European competitions (Basketball Champions League), has really helped Olinde improve as a player.
After declaring for June’s NBA Draft, the German international rising star, talked to Eurohoops about his season, his goals, as well as his playing style.
After spending the last few years in Bamberg, you got more opportunities this season in the Basketball Champions League and German League, performing at a very high level. You are now considered as one of the best international prospects. How would you describe this season’s experience, playing in one of Europe’s best competitions in BCL, as well as one of the best domestic leagues in the German League?
It was a great experience. I had a lot of ups and downs this season. I started pretty well, I was playing, but then things changed. Some players who were hurt came back to the team, and I had a tough time playing because I wasn’t really on the court. I was injured. Then, the coach changed, and I got my confidence back because I knew the coach from previous years. I started playing, felt more comfortable, and right now I feel very good. I had the chance to improve the last half of the season, until now; the German playoffs begin.
What did you learn this year from the BCL run until the Final Four and what challenged you the most?
It’s a great competition. A lot of good teams, a lot of good players. What challenged me the most was the fact that it’s a little different to play in a domestic league (BBL) and a European competition. In Germany, you know the players, you play against them for two, three years, and now you go in the BCL, and you don’t know a lot of players, nor the teams. It’s a new experience, but it was a lot of fun. We did well until the Final Four, where we played two bad games. Besides that, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun.
Back in April, you declared for the NBA Draft. Has the NBA been a dream of yours since you were a child? What does it mean to you?
It means everything. Growing up, watching basketball, watching the NBA, it was a dream of mine play in the NBA and get drafted. It’s crazy how the last years have been. The dream became more realistic. More people were talking to me; scouts were traveling to Bamberg, watching games and practices. Last year I had declared but pulled out before the deadline because I felt like it wasn’t my year. But, being so close to NBA teams, people are in charge of NBA teams, it’s a great experience, and it doesn’t feel real. Getting closer and closer to that dream is just great. I feel good about it. For sure there is some pressure because it’s your dream and you feel like you have to perform every day, you never know who is watching, but at the same time, it’s a great opportunity.
How did you fall in love with basketball and wanted to pursue a professional career? When was the moment you thought ‘I can do that for a living’?
I was always playing basketball. My parents played ball, my mom was still playing when I was four years old, so I was going to the games, watching her play. After the games, I was shooting some balls in the hoop. Overall, I was around basketball. My parents taught me about basketball, I was watching games on TV and just grew up with it. All my friends were playing soccer in Germany (the most popular sport in the country), but I was always playing basketball. Then, when I grew up, I was watching the NBA and had that dream of playing there. It became more realistic when I was 14-15 and had my first national team tryouts. That’s when it became more serious. I was thinking ‘I could really do it; play as a professional.’ That’s the time when I had to sacrifice a lot, to work out, go to the gym, get some extra shots up and I’m glad that I’m here.
Growing up, who was your favorite player?
I’m always a big fan of Kobe Bryant. Kobe with the Lakers. It was always Kobe. And now, it’s Giannis. I like his playing style. I also like Kevin Durant, and many players, because they are making me enjoy watching basketball.
How would you describe yourself as a basketball player, to those who have not watched you play yet?
I’m very versatile. I can play the 3, the 4 and defend all positions. I can switch on screens, and I think that’s a big part of my game. Being active, bringing energy and helping my team everywhere I can. Do all the little things, the hustle plays, deflections, getting steals, a block and generally just the small things that not everybody likes to do. In every game, I find new opportunities to help my team.
Where do you feel like you need to improve the most? What things do you focus on in practice?
I focus a lot on my body, to get stronger. Gain a little weight, muscle and be more stable. Try to improve my game offensively. Find a move that I can rely on. Become a threat from beyond the arc; work on my ball handling. I would say the two most important things is to work on my body and find ways to create shots and score the ball.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I want to be in the NBA. It’s my big dream. In five years, I want to have a role on an NBA team. Play there; win with my team. In five, maybe ten or fifteen years, win an NBA championship.