Photo courtesy of UTSA Athletics
18-year-old freshman James Ringholt has transitioned to life in America — both on and off the court — much easier than he expected.
Ringholt, a native of Brisbane, Australia, makes up one of the seven freshmen on the UTSA Men’s Basketball team this season. His conversion to American basketball has been smoother than he ever imagined, as he’s already second on the team in blocked shots per game and has seen an increase in playing time as the season progresses.
“Coming in, I didn’t expect to play. Being pretty raw and the youngest on the team by about a year, I didn’t think I would be playing right now,” Ringholt admitted.
Standing at 6 feet 10 inches, Ringholt had his sights on collegiate basketball in America for a long time. However, basketball in Australia is much different than in the United States.
“When I was about 14 or 15, I really started to get into college basketball and one day I wanted to go over (to America). There’s no college basketball in Australia. You either play basketball (professionally) or you go to school, there’s no in between. This is definitely the best of both worlds over here,” Ringholt said.
Ringholt decided to embark in college basketball in the United States after hearing about the success of fellow native Australian teammate Jeromie Hill.
Hailing from the same Australian state of Queensland, Hill immediately assumed a mentoring role with the young Ringholt.
“I didn’t know (Hill) before coming to UTSA but I had heard of him. A lot of guys knew of him back home and they would speak very highly of him. He was sort of an indirect mentor to me,” Ringholt said.
With his family and friends over 8,000 miles away from San Antonio, Ringholt relied on Hill as he adjusted to life as a Roadrunner. “He’s been indescribably helpful, down to where to shop for groceries, talk to coaches, talk to girls — he’s been basically like a dad,” Ringholt added.
Ringholt’s favorite part about America is dining at the local restaurants in town. Having acquired a taste for the famous Tex-Mex cuisine in San Antonio, Ringholt admits the change of food options has been a pleasant surprise.
“In Australia you don’t tip waiters. Because they just get a constant wage, they don’t really go out of their way to make you have a nice time at restaurants. The whole fill up your drink for you, ask you how your day is and getting free bread, I’ve never had that. Eating out is the most fun thing over here,” Ringholt admitted.
The future for UTSA basketball is cloudy after this season, as the Roadrunners look to graduate three of their top four leading scorers this year. UTSA Head coach Brooks Thompson will retain 11 members from the current roster onto next year’s team, as he looks to build off his team’s success this season and develop the incoming talent arriving in the fall.
“When you lose three of your four top leading scorers…you’re going to take a hit,” said Ringholt. “We’ve got a really deep team and a really young team. I think we are more than capable of stepping up… the coaches recruit really well. I mean they recruited me and the other guys so they clearly know how to recruit,” he finished with a smile.
The next opportunity to see Ringholt and the Roadrunners will be Thursday, March 5 when UTSA takes on Rice in the Convocation Center.