James Milliken is a 24 year old 188cm guard from Siler, North Carolina that will be playing his rookie season in Germany with Lok Bernau. He started his basketball career with Cowley County CC (JUCO). He then made the jump to the NCAA to Creighton and played 65 games from 2014-2016. In his junior year he played 30 games averaging 9.3ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 37.3%, FT: 77.6%. In his senior year he played 35 game averaging 9.7ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 70.6%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball earlier this summer.
James thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I am in Raleigh North Carolina at the moment and it’s been going pretty good!
Congrats on signing with SSV Lok Bernau. How relived are you finally be a professional basketball player. Were the last 16 months from your last NCAA game against BYU were you scored 10 points an eternity?
Yes it felt like the longest I’ve been away from basketball in my life so I was definitely relieved.
How difficult were the last 16 months? Last summer you were let down by an agent and had to sit out the season. Were there ever moments were you wanted to quit? What kept you positive?
No I never thought about quitting I knew it was going be a process to go out finding agents on my own so it was a learning experience and I think that having that year off it made me better and more aggressive.
How did you go about looking for a team this summer. Did you have more than one offer or did you jump at the first offer from SSV Lok Bernau?
I had other calls but after they called I knew that’s where I wanted to be!
What was the deciding factor that convinced you that signing with the Rostock Seawolves was the correct thing to do?
Just after talking with the GM, the coach and my agent we all felt it was a good fit for me!
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball. Ex Creighton players like Anthony Tolliver, Rodney Buford and Dane Watts played in Germany. Did you get some advice from ex teammates Geoffrey Groselle or Ricky Kreklow who played in Germany last season?
I actually didn’t get much info on Germany basketball but one of my good friends was stationed in Germany and he told me great things about it.
Despite not knowing for 16 months if you would ever be a professional player, with what kind of attitude will you go into your rookie season. With all the hardship that you experienced, do you feel like you will have self confidence going in?
Yes I feel that going into my rookie season I will have the upmost confidence and will be ready to lead this Team!
The Rostock Seawolves were impressed of your defensive game in that you were able to handle the other teams best player. How high on your list of strengths is your defense?
It’s at the top because my dad harped on defense all my life so I knew I wanted to be the guy to shut down or slow down the other teams best player and I took pride in it.
You had solid scoring stats in your last two seasons at Creighton. What do you feel is your biggest offensive strength that you have that will help Rostock most this season?
My best offensive attribute I would say is my ability to shoot the ball and find spots on the court I’m comfortable with.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I feel my hidden strength is my passing ability I see the floor very well and hopefully I can show that off a little more.
You started your basketball career at Cowley County CC (JUCO) before making the jump to Creighton(NCAA).How humbling an experience was starting at the bottom and then reaching the NCAA?
It was very humbling I wouldn’t take those Juco years back at all! I loved the way Cowley matured me and got me mentally and physically prepared for division 1.
You played at Creighton(NCAA) from 2014-2016. In your junior season you were suspended for a while in December after the St Marys loss, but came back for the Providence game where you nailed home 22 points. What did you learn from this experience that you felt made you stronger as a whole?
I just knew how much I needed this team and how much they needed me and it made me realize how much harder I needed to work to get my teammates trust back.
How did head coach Greg Mcdermott groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career? He may have been tough at times, but in the end was probably the best?
Coach Mac is a father figure! He is much more than a basketball coach but a life coach! He groomed me to be a great person off the court and on the court and I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity he gave me at Creighton, and yes he pushed on me hard but we had many sit downs and he told me the kind of player I could be if I listened to and trusted the process.
You had some very good games including hitting Seton Hall for 21 and 20 points in loses. Do you still remember the 67-66 loss to Seton Hall?
Yes I play that Seton Hall game back from when I missed the game winner at home and missed the game winner at their place! It was a memory that I like to keep in my head for motivation!
I saw Maurice Watson Play at Boston University back in 2014 and really liked his play. He then transferred to Creighton and you were able to play with him for a season. Last season he got a serious injury that curtailed his career as he probably would have been an NBA draft pick. What do you remember most about him and how did you both benefit from each other?
Man playing with Mo was an honor he pushed me everyday and became my roommate and best friend! He is incredible and a strong leader who had a minor setback but is going to have a major comeback!
Who won a one on one in practice you or Maurice Watson?
We actually never played one on one but we battled before in pick up and I’d like to say with us both being competitive he would respond this way as well but I think I would beat him one on one!
You hit Providence and Kris Dunn with 26 points while he had 17 points, but you lost a nail bitter 70-66. When you see a guy like a Kris Dunn and remember how you preformed, do you feel like there is a big difference between your games?
I used to hear this all the time about Kris Dunn! But the thing about him was that I always had a chip on my shoulder going into playing him because he was the best player in the big east so I wanted to prove that he wasn’t the only good player on the floor when we saw each other. But Kris is unbelievable he is a great leader and a great defender so yes I agree with his position in the NBA!
You battled against many top guards in the NCAA like future NBA players Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield, but was there a player even better that you battled against in the NCAA?
Kris Dunn had to be the best I would say!
How does a normal summer work out day look like for you in the summer of 2017?
I wake up eat breakfast hit the gym get some cardio in then go get some shots up about 300 then hit the weight room and come back to get 300 in then start my drills!
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Allen Iverson
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and has three to Michael Jordan. There are so many experts that keep proclaiming that Lebron is the best of all-time. Where do you rate him in the neverending debate about who the best of all-time is?
I would say he is the third best behind Kobe and Jordan
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
Russ is an amazing player and I think he should keep doing what he is doing to help his team win!
What do you feel will the Houston Rockets be able to achieve with an allstar backcourt with James Harden and Chris Paul?
I think they will be a top team because cp is such a great leader!
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I want my brother Justin Patton to get the rookie of the year and prove how good the kid really is.
What was the last movie that you saw?
All Eyez on me!
Thanks James for the Chat.