Carving out a career in the pros in Japan - with Ben Lawson - Ep. 96 -

Carving out a career in the pros in Japan – with Ben Lawson – Ep. 96

For Episode 96 of the Hoopsfix Podcast, we sit down with Toyotsu Fighting Eagles Nagoya big man, Ben Lawson.

The 7’1″ centre originally out of Oaklands College, turned pro in 2017-18 after a four year career at NCAA Division 1 school Western Kentucky University where he finished up as their fourth all-time blocked shots leader, starting his career in Cyprus before making the switch to Japan in 2018-19 where he has remained since.

A former England Under-18 and GB Under-20, Lawson played for the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2019 NBA Summer League, and was recently named to the GB Senior Men’s squad long list.

In this 1 hour and 20 minute interview, we look back on Lawson’s journey so far and how he has fought through adversity to carve himself out a pro career.


00:00 Intro
02:44 Interview start
03:01 How COVID-19 has affected the leagues in Japan
05:29 Whether COVID-19 impacted his decision to sign in Asia
06:51 How much he is in touch with other British guys overseas
07:54 His inclusion on the GB Senior squad long list and how much that is an aspiration
09:17 Whether his involvement with the GB program will be limited to summer months
10:33 Ben’s early years being involve with multiple sports
13:03 How serious about basketball he was when he enrolled at Oaklands
14:27 How much his height played a role into funnelling him into basketball
16:02 Getting to grips with his body and height
17:35 Coming out of nowhere onto the scene and when things started to click
20:23 The talent in the ’95 generation and if he ever felt out of his depth
23:14 Being coached by Steve Bucknall with the national team
24:59 Standout memories from playing in Division A with the England U18s
27:10 When the US colleges started recruiting him
29:26 How early he knew he was going to sign with WKU
30:50 Being a true freshman
31:20 The transition from England to WKU
33:15 Whether the biggest thing about the UK to US transition is the physicality & athleticism
34:50 Sticking out all 4 years at WKU
37:37 How much he’s thinking about stats at college to be able to turn pro
40:41 The standout memories from college
42:15 How much he goes back to visit WKU now
43:03 Turning pro
44:36 Whether he ever second guessed turning pro
46:42 Whether Cyprus was the only pro offer he had
47:43 Reflections on whether he made it when he was in Cyprus because of the lifestyle
49:16 Knocking down the game winner at the buzzer in the Playoff Semi-Finals in Cyprus
52:35 Whether the offers started coming in after his good year in Cyprus
55:43 Why he thinks the offers didn’t come
58:30 Getting two big offers from Japan after a workout in LA
1:01:47 The cultural transition from West to East, playing in Japan
1:05:12 Whether he feels like he has embraced the culture and found a second home in Japan
1:06:29 If he feels like he’ll spend a lot of his career in Japan
1:08:10 The level on the floor in Japan and if he feels he is being challenged enough
1:10:58 Playing for Memphis in the NBA Summer League
1:13:23 How close he feels to being able to play in the NBA
1:14:44 Whether he wants to do NBA Summer League again
1:15:47 Turning down a G-League offer to play in Japan
1:18:39 Staying with the same agent since his rookie year
1:19:11 His favourite basketball memory
1:19:37 Best coach he’s every played for
1:20:22 Best teammate he’s ever had
1:20:33 Best British player he’s played with or against
1:21:08 Best individual performance he’s ever witnessed
1:21:52 Where he wants to be in the next 3-5 years

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