One On One With Rasheed Sulaimon

With the recruiting process a distant memory, Rasheed Sulaimon can focus on the goals he's set for his senior season and beyond. TDD spoke with Sulaimon over the weekend about that and much more.

He was the first commit for the class of 2012. Now, nearly seven months later, Rasheed Sulaimon continues to put in work on the recruiting trail for his future program. He's also expanding his game and moving up the rankings to the top shooting guard spot. This weekend he spoke with TDD to provide a general update.

Now that your senior year has kicked off, how are things settling in for you?

Rasheed Sulaimon: School's going really well. I go to a college prep high school, so I'm required to take AP classes. That's a good thing because it helps me get ready for college.

Which AP classes have you taken so far?

I'm currently in AP Physics and Calculus, and I've taken AP US and AP World History previously. I've taken the tests already for the history classes and I'm planning on taking the tests so I can get college credit for my physics and calculus classes too.

Sounds like you are being proactive. Have you already started working with Duke admissions and the advisors?

Yes, they already have my transcripts and are evaluating those currently. I'm planning on majoring in Economics at Duke, really looking forward to it.

Lot of players talk about the pressures of recruiting and how they feel more normal once they are committed to a school. Does that hold true with you?

You could say that. It's just very different when you are being recruited by all the top schools. I enjoyed my recruiting process, but when I committed to Duke, it definitely took the pressure off. I remember back to June 21st last year when coaches could call more often than they could before and then I think of June 21st this year and talking with my friends like Brandon Ashley, his phone was blowing up, so I tried to be understanding with them because I know what they were going through. A lot of my peers at my high school right now, they are going through the process of applying to schools and figuring out where they are going to commit to going to school and I'm all done, it's just a huge relief to not have to focus anymore on recruiting and know exactly where I'm going to college next year.

Now that you've gone through the process of being recruited by Duke and Coach K, can you elaborate a bit into how Duke's recruiting process was different from other schools?

Yeah, they are different. Like during the live period, when I was playing, there's a lot of pressure I'd put on myself to succeed. There were a lot of phone calls happening, but with Duke it was different. They showed me they were very interested in me but they still gave me my space. The thing with Coach K is that he would call, but we'd get a lot more done in 15 minutes on the phone than other coaches would get done in an hour. That was real neat to see, he got down to business, but it wasn't always about basketball, he'd ask how my day was going, how school was going for me and when we talked basketball, it was always very beneficial. He'd tell me what he likes about my game and also things that I could improve on as well. I always feel like he has my best interests at heart.

From talking to both, you seem to be good friends with Julius Randle and Matt Jones, both of whom are being recruited by Duke as well. Can you share what you guys talk about when it comes to Duke and what they have said about how the process is going with them?

Well, they've both told me how much they like how Coach K recruits them. They think he's very genuine with them and they enjoy that a lot they have said. Both of them mention Duke quite a bit when they talk with me.

How have you handled increased expectations that come when a player continues to fly up the rankings?

I'd say it's just par for the course but I still haven't accomplished a lot of my goals, it's just really nice knowing I'm considered to be that good.

Let's switch gears and talk about Elite 24. What was going through your mind leading up to getting the word that you were selected as one of the 24?

Leading up to it I actually got it leaked to me a little early that I was in the game and I was real excited. I knew that I had to step up my game to another level to make an impact in that game. I was very happy to be in the game and have an opportunity to showcase my talent.

You also got the opportunity to hold the hand held camera and go behind the scenes with the guys at the Elite 24, how did that come about?

Yeah, that came from the same guy who leaked it to me early that I was in the tournament. He called me and told me that everybody at Elite 24 felt confident that I would make a great behind the scenes guy. I have to be honest, I was nervous, but the more I worked with it, the more I got comfortable with it. I tried real hard to get good shots of the guys interacting with each other and at different things we were doing, thought it came together well.

One of the highlights of the experience in talking with other guys there was the Midnight Run game against the NBA guys, how was that for you?

That was big-time, that's all I can say. It was crazy to be going up against guys like Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Derrick Rose and other NBA guards. I guarded Kemba and Brandon Jennings for most of the game and one of the highlights for me was Brandon Jennings was coming down the court full speed in transition with the ball in his hands. He tried to cross me over while he was going full speed and I had my hands out and I caused a deflection that led to me getting out in the open court and getting a wide open dunk. Talking with the NBA guys after the game, they talked a lot with me about how I get better the more stronger I get, the more physical I am able to be and also withstand. I picked up a lot from talking with Tyreke, it's amazing to see the physical package that he has developed, he knows how to utilize his body as a player and that's something that I'm learning how to do as well.

Who did you spend a lot of time with during the Elite 24?

Primarily I was hanging out with Shabazz Muhammad, Aquille Carr, Kyle Anderson and some other guys. Hanging with Shabazz, I gave him the nickname of America's Most Wanted because he had EVERYBODY talking to him about college and where he's going to go. I tried to give him space because I know how hard it is to go through the recruiting attention that he's getting, he seems to be handling it pretty well though.

You also taped the latest installment of the Duke vs UNC Draft Express Smackdown video with Marcus Paige

Oh yeah, Draft Express asked me and Marcus if we wanted to do it and we were both up for it. I did some research on the previous videos including the one with Kyrie, Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes, just to make sure I did a good job with mine. We had a lot of fun that's for sure.

Speaking of Duke, what did you think about their overseas games?

I watched all their games for sure. That seemed like such a great trip for them and the team, I know that them going on that trip, as the season progresses, it's going to help them get better for having gone on that trip.

Wrapping things up, you mentioned personal goals that you still have unfulfilled. Like what?

I recognize that at Duke nothing is given to you, so I'm working very hard to go in and be ready to do what the coaching staff asks of me to do and also be ready to be a good teammate. With my high school team, I want to go undefeated and we are working on winning a state title. It's very hard to accomplish since there's over 300 teams in the state of Texas, but I think we can do it if we stay team based and play for each other, we can do well as a team. Lastly, it's always been a goal of mine to be a McDonald's All American and to play in the Jordan Classic game. I am hoping I earn the opportunity to be invited to those games.

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