Five Star Forward Ready For CTC

As one of the top prospects in the class of 2012, Amile Jefferson has any number of schools pursuing him. One of the schools in contact is Duke where Jefferson will be on Friday night for Countdown to Craziness. TDD spoke with Jefferson on the eve of his trip.

TDD: What have you focused on as far as development between the end of the summer and the start of your high school season?

Amile Jefferson:To be honest, it's been awesome to get a chance to play with some of the college guys that I've had the fortune to play against. I was just working out down at Villanova with a lot of the guys, and it's really beneficial for me when I can play against guys that are faster, quicker, and stronger than I am. Guys like Dominic Cheek, he's a bigger wing who knows how to utilize his weight, and that's something that I learn from.

Being so close and playing at Villanova, is it fair to assume you've got a pretty good relationship with that team?

I am good friends with guys like Malik Wayans, whenever I go down to play he's always making sure I'm comfortable and getting in the games when the team is playing pickup and stuff, so that's nice to be able to have that.

Have you had the opportunity to play against other college players when you went on campuses last year for camps and visits?

Not as much to be honest, but that's more so because when I have visited schools before, which hasn't happened much, you're just so busy, and when I did camps like Duke's Elite Camp, I was pretty much matching up against fellow high school players who were at the camp, which was good too.

How are you dealing with the media spotlight that accompanies any high major recruiting process?

I would say it's kinda a mixture of feelings. On one hand, you're in the spotlight as a player, you've got a target on your back, which for me really gives me a lot of motivation to keep getting better. I've seen how being in the public eye can really lead to a lack of motivation with players who have come before me, and I do not want that to happen with me.

During the summer you talked about being a leader on your team. How has that translated into your high school season?

It's a bit hard because we don't have a complete roster as of yet, but from what I've seen in playing with my teammates that are on the team right now, we're going to be a hard working, scrappy team, we can't be a passive team, we're going to have to be a team that plays together and for each other.

Is being a leader something that requires a static or dynamic approach?

I've really learned it's good to be diverse in how I try to be a leader. Like when I was at NBA Camp over the summer and it was me playing with a lot of the top guys in the country, it was more important that I lead by being really vocal, letting guys know where I was, so that as a team, we could try and play together. But with my high school team, I tend to be a lot more vocal in practice, making sure guys are where they need to be, especially on defense.

Are colleges pitching the leadership role to you?

They talk a lot about me developing as a leader, as a young guy, they want me to feel like I can look to make an impact, but it's also really important to me to play with upperclassmen that are clearly the leaders of their team, that will make me a better leader as I watch them while I'm an underclassmen, and it'll also help me learn how to play at a high level as a player.

The scouting report on you is that, at this time, you don't have a set position. Do you agree?

I'm actually pretty ok with that. I really enjoy being a versatile player, whether it be posting a guy up that's stronger than me and getting a bucket over the top of him, or looking to make a good pass or maybe even playing out in space if I've got a bigger guy on me, to me, it's much more important to be a basketball player, I really want to be a versatile player, kinda like guys like Kevin Durant get to be in the pros.

Do any of the coaches recruiting you talk with you about NBA guys or college guys that compare to your style of play?

I was actually just talking with Coach K from Duke when he got back from coaching the National Team and Coach K told me that coaching a guy like Kevin Durant was really great because he could do so many things on the court, but more importantly, he bought into the team concept and tried to use his talents for the betterment of the team.

While on the subject of college coaches, who has been out to see you over the last few months?

There's been a good amount, I remember that Coach K and Coach Nate James came up for a special trip to watch me workout, that meant a lot that they would make that trip. There has also been a lot of schools that have visited, schools like Villanova, Pitt, Georgetown, and Miami is coming up next week to visit. Frankly, it's an honor to have schools like that who want to recruit me, it's a real blessing that I'm thankful for.

Are you making any visits any time soon?

I'm going down to Duke's Midnight Madness, I believe they are calling it Countdown to Craziness. I heard they are going to be unveiling their championship banner and I've heard they are going to have a lot of fun things for us recruits who are going to be attending. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Duke does theirs, I have had the opportunity to go to Louisville's, Villanova's and Georgetown's Midnight Madness before, but this is my first time going to one where they are going to be putting up a National Championship Banner, me and my dad are looking forward to visiting.

For a while it seemed like there was a bit of a plateau in terms of mutual interest between you and Duke based on various reports. Was that accurate or just a misconception?

[Others' perceptions] don't really bother me to be honest. I'm very aware of how this process is going and will continue to go, and my father has told me that all I can control is how hard I work on my game.

With heading to Duke this weekend, what are you looking to get out of the experience aside from the Midnight Madness festivities.

I'm really curious to see what life is like as a student there, like I know I'm going to have an opportunity to look at what Duke does from a basketball perspective, but my dad and I definitely want to learn more and will ask some questions surrounding what the academic situation is for students at Duke and how the team supports it's players from an academic and social life perspective.

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