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Flowery Branch grad Hollis returning to his roots, hosting youth basketball camp
Flowery Branch High graduate Ishmael Hollis throws down a dunk for the Southwest Metro Pirates (Brisbane, Australia) earlier this season. He previously played for a professional team in Portugal, and will return to Australia in February. - photo by For The Times

Swish Basketball Camp by Ishmael Hollis

Who: Boys and girls ages 6-18

When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 18-19

Where: Flowery Branch High’s main gymnasium

Cost: $80

What to bring: bag lunch, basketball gear and water bottles

For more info:

Flowery Branch graduate Ishmael Hollis is returning to his roots and giving back to his community with a youth basketball camp.

The former Falcon standout will host the camp at his former stomping grounds of Flowery Branch High Dec. 18-19.

“I hosted these same camps when I was in Australia,” Hollis said. “I went by (Flowery Branch) to check on the teams.

Coach (Jimmy) Lawler said, ‘You should do something for the kids here.’”

From there Lawler and Hollis were able to work out some time when the gym wasn’t in use.

“I wasn’t even planning on it,” Hollis said. “I was back home training, but, when he said that, I thought I should give back to the community. There are people who go on and play well and are successful, but don’t come back and give back to the kids.”

During his two years at the University of North Georgia, Hollis was an All-Peach Belt second team pick in 2013. In 2014, he was an All-Peach Belt first team selection, Daktronics NCAA Division II All-Southeast Region second team pick, NABC NCAA DII All-Southeast Region first team selection, third team NCAA Divsion II All-American and a player in the Reese’s NCAA Division II All-Star Game.

Since graduating from the Nighthawks’ program, Hollis has played professionally in England, Australia and, most recently, Portugal.

“It’s been crazy,” he said. “It’s been a wild ride. When I went to England, it was an up and down season for me. When I went to Australia, I was one of the best players in the league.”

Hollis averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds per game while he was playing in Australia.

On Feb. 25, 2016, he will make his way back for another stint in the land down under, which he said is “very Americanized” and “feels like home,” as a member of the Frankston Blues.

The style of play in Australia, compared to the other stops in his career, fits him best, he said.

“Australia plays an up tempo game like we do (in America),” Hollis said. “Europe is a very tactical game, they slow the game down. Australia is very free-flowing, like I played at North Georgia. It fits me well because it’s so similar.”

While he will be playing in the second-level league, Hollis said he’s been getting attention from teams in the National Baskeball League, the top league in the country.

“They’re kind of scouting me in the offseason to see if I can play in the top league,” he said. “The only league above that is the NBA. I’m hoping I can move up.”

When Hollis steps on the court with local kids for the camp on Friday and Saturday, that won’t be on his mind.

“I grew up in Gainesville and went to Flowery Branch,” he said. “It shows all kids in Hall County that I came from the same background they did and they can make it if they put in some hard work.”

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