Though former Boston University men’s basketball star John Holland graduated in 2011, he certainly has not stepped off the hardwood for good. Following his record-breaking career at BU, he has taken his talents to a professional level, playing in Europe, for the Puerto Rican National Team and for two teams in the NBA Summer League.
Prior to his career in professional basketball, Holland was a four-year starter at Boston University, where he led the 2010-11 Terriers to their most recent NCAA Tournament appearance, in which they fell to the University of Kansas in the first round. During his tenure with the Terriers, Holland collected numerous accolades, including being named an Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention, a Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American and the 2011 America East Player of the Year. He holds the school records for most points in a single season (673 in 2009-10), games played (129) and minutes played (1,205).
After graduating in 2011, Holland went on to play professionally in France for Chorale Roanne in the French Pro A League. During his time in France, Holland played in 30 games, averaged 14.1 points per game, and shot 54.6 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.
“It’s different, but basketball is basketball,” Holland said about the switch from playing in the United States to playing in France his first year. “The rules may be different here and there but honestly it’s the same game no matter where. [When I made the switch] I was really just trying to be the best I could, you know. You definitely see when you go to France, there’s a high level of competition.”
Following his season with Chorale, Holland went on to play with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Summer League. In four games, Holland averaged 5.8 points and shot 39 percent from the field.
After the summer campaign, Holland signed with Cajasol Sevilla, a premier team in Spain’s ACB league. In 33 games with Cajasol, Holland averaged 10.4 points per game with a 51 percent field goal percentage, also shooting 31.9 percent from 3-point range.
This summer, Holland once again returned to the Summer League this year after being signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I definitely felt more comfortable this year, it being the second time around,” Holland said. “It was easier. I learned a lot during my time in both France and Spain, so [this year] I had better basketball knowledge, and I had a better idea of what to expect, so I was more prepared. I think I did well, and will just have to wait and see what happens.”
Holland improved in his second tenure in the Summer League, as the Bronx, N.Y., native played in two more games and even earned a start in one contest. In six games, he averaged 6.3 points and shot 47 percent from the field and 50 percent 3-point land.
One of Holland’s shining moments during this year’s Summer League came when he played against the Miami Heat July 16. In an 80-71 win with the Timberwolves, Holland scored 12 points, dished out three assists, grabbed five boards and recorded one steal. On that steal, Holland was a part of a highlight-reel play as he moved the ball up the court and made a flashy behind-the-back pass to small forward Shabazz Muhammed, who finished with a one-handed jam.
“The whole thing was a great experience,” Holland said. “If I had to pick one thing though, I guess my game against the Heat. There were a lot of good moments. It’s always good to see where you stock up against some of the best young players in the game.”
Although he has been overseas, Holland said that he has been keeping up with the BU program since graduating two years ago.
“When I’m overseas I try and catch every game,” Holland said. “I definitely keep up with my teammates that were freshmen and are now going to be seniors. Just making sure they stay focused and keep working hard.”
Holland, who experienced the joy of winning the America East Championship in 2011, applauded the 2012-13 Terriers’ squad for the way they fought despite being banned from conference tournament play due to BU’s switch to the Patriot League.
“I think last year’s team was really talented. I think them not being able to compete for a [conference] championship was kind of tough, especially going through the season and knowing you aren’t going to be able to win the America East Championship,” Holland said. “They came out and worked hard every day. I expect them to take another step this year with the conference and everything else.”
Holland will continue on his mission to play professionally in the U.S. as he gears up to play against Brazil August 30 with the Puerto Rican National Team in Caracas, Venezuela, aiming to qualify for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“It definitely means a lot,” Holland said about playing for the Puerto Rican National Team. “My grandparents were from Puerto Rico so it definitely means a lot for me to play with this team, it’s a great team and it’s a great experience.”
It is not clear whether Holland’s dreams of playing in the NBA will be achieved soon, but he said he uses positivity as a way to keep moving forward.
“I think the thing that has had the most influence on me is the message of having a positive attitude regardless of whatever situation you are in,” Holland said. “Just knowing that no matter what happens there will always be ups and downs. I learned that having a positive attitude has powered me through when things have or haven’t gone my way everywhere I’ve been.”