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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Hollis readies for basketball beyond GW

Graduation is three weeks away for men’s basketball senior Damian Hollis, but despite the papers, projects and tests that still stand in his way, he’s already excited. After he dons his cap and gown on the National Mall, Hollis can at last devote himself primarily to one thing: basketball.

Soon after he gets his diploma, Hollis will leave for Sacramento, Calif., where he will play, train and learn with both current NBA players and NBA draft hopefuls in the hope of improving his prospects of playing professionally. Being thrown into unfamiliar territory, where there will be few distractions, will be a welcome change for the Colonials’ leading scorer from this past season.

“I’ve been so used to playing here for four years. I know what to expect and stuff like that, and then now I’m just gonna get thrown out there across the nation,” Hollis said. “I’ve been to Sacramento once, when we played in the NCAA tournament, but I don’t really know the city, I don’t know the area, I don’t know anything. But I think that’s a good environment because I’m gonna have only basketball to concentrate on.”

For now, Hollis’ concentration has been largely on the schoolwork that so often had to be put on the back burner during the season. The break from basketball, Hollis said, has been a welcome one.

“I feel like a regular student. I feel like I can get work done,” Hollis said. “It’s a lot of stress and a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s definitely fun playing and doing the whole thing, but it’s a lot easier [for school].”

Now with graduation on the horizon, Hollis has begun forming plans for his basketball career. Hopefully, he will impress an NBA team enough this summer that a team might be willing to give the 6-foot-8 forward a look. If not, Hollis said he would go overseas, hopefully to Europe, to pursue his hoop dreams.

“I’d want to go to Italy because I heard they pay the most,” Hollis said. “But my dad’s played in Spain and I’ve been in Spain when I was younger so I have a slight idea of what it’s like, so I think I’d feel most comfortable there compared to any other country.”

Hollis, who led the Colonials in points, rebounds and blocks per game this past season, was named the basketball team’s MVP for his performance. Earlier this season, Hollis became the 42nd player in program history to score at least 1,000 career points, and his 81.8 free-throw percentage is one of the highest in team history.

Whenever Hollis’ playing career ends, he said he hopes to put his degree in human services to use by starting a nonprofit organization targeted at serving underprivileged kids, similar to a Boys and Girls Club. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native said basketball was his way of staying out of trouble as a kid, and starting a nonprofit would allow him to help other kids avoid many of the problems that Hollis was able to dodge.

“Just growing up, I felt like a lot of my friends didn’t have sports to run to, but they messed with drugs or they stole stuff, they got in trouble with the law a lot, and I had the basketball to go to,” he said. “I feel like basketball saved my life.”

That’s all in the future for now. Right now Hollis’ focus is on graduating, something the forward said will make his mom very, very happy.

“I’m doing this for her, the whole school thing,” Hollis said. “I didn’t particularly want to. I wanted to just play basketball and make a living off that and then eventually get my degree. But I promised her that I would, so I’m gonna do it.”

Once he does get his diploma, Hollis said he will be eager to open the next chapter of his life.

“This is what I was looking for forever. Just to go and play basketball, just concentrated, no school,” Hollis said. “I’m ready to move on.”

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