Rasheed Sulaimon: We were all really excited knowing that Coach K and his staff was coming over. There was just a lot of preparation happening in the house to get ready because we knew that Coach K, Coach Capel and Coach Wojo were all coming. It was really surreal to have Coach K in your living room, and to be honest, all we could think of initially was that's a living legend that's in our house to spend time with us. That quickly went away though and we had a great time.
So what was for dinner?
My mom, she put on the full feast for everybody, which was real cool. The amount of food that she made…she typically doesn't make it except for special occasions like holidays, but with Coach K coming, she cooked a bunch of food, she made some awesome BBQ, she made some of her food from home in Jamaica, so we had jerk chicken, rice and peas, fruit, salads, she did it up big.
Did everyone go back for seconds?
See, that's the thing, everybody only ate once, but when they all saw all the good food that my mom made, all the coaches, all my family, we all had huge first plates. I knew that everybody liked it, because everybody's plates were wiped clean. The whole staff told my mom how much they enjoyed her food and I know she enjoyed that a lot.
What was the conversation about at dinner. Assuming it was anything but recruiting, correct?
Oh yeah most definitely. The staff knows that I'm very strong in my commitment to them and to Duke, so we spent time watching some football with my family and we talked a lot about regular things, which was really great. We also talked a bit about coordinating my official visit to Duke, which I'm planning on taking during their Countdown to Craziness, looking forward to that.
Since your commitment, had any new questions popped up that you wanted answered?
To be honest, since we've taken a couple visits to Duke before, we had a lot of questions answered on those visits. So this time it was a lot more laid back, basketball wasn't the main topic of conversation, it was more just a part of it. My Aunt and Uncle were there too with their children, so it was really more about my family getting an opportunity to know the staff even better.
Were your Aunt and Uncle pretty excited to meet Coach K?
Oh yeah, they were taking it all in, but you could tell that they were in awe like the rest of the us. The funny thing was that my Aunt and Uncle brought a couple balls in to get signed, they were just so excited to meet Coach K and the staff.
You mentioned earlier that the awe evaporated into a comfortable setting. How long did that take?
Oh, it transitioned very quickly, and that was because all the coaches are just so humble and down to earth, they made it so easy for all of us feel comfortable to ask any questions that we had.
What kind of questions did you and your family have?
Well, we were curious about things like how do tickets get arranged for family members to get tickets to see me play in Cameron Indoor, what's the travel arrangements like for the team when they go on road trips. That was really cool too because the coaches talked about the China/Dubai trip and about the 7 star hotel they got to stay in in Dubai. They said it's the finest hotel they had ever stayed in and it was neat how many different features the hotel had.
Who on staff fielded the questions?
It was very interactive in a lot of different ways. Like my dad asked a couple questions related to basketball and Coach K would answer and the assistants would also offer their opinions as well.
What's an example of a response that the staff gave in response to a question?
There was this answer that Coach K that just stuck with me and my family and it was in response to my mom asking him a question about what was it like getting to coach Team USA in the Olympics a couple years ago.
Coach K told us this story about how his ancestors came over from the country of Poland and when they came to America, they passed right by Ellis Island. He mentioned that his great grandfather was on that boat and he talked about how excited he was that his family was going to have an opportunity to live in the United States of America. Coach K then told us about how he told the Team USA team when they did a boat trip by Ellis Island that story and he told the pros that it was such an honor for him, not just professionally, but personally to have the opportunity to go past the same Ellis Island that his grand grandfather went pass and he had the opportunity to coach the National Team of the United States of America that his family came to so many years ago. It was really moving and emotional for my parents to hear that because their family and them came to this country from Jamaica, so to hear Coach K speak with such respect for the honor he felt of representing his country, it was just really awesome.
Did recruiting come up much as a topic of discussion?
Actually yes we did talk about recruiting a little bit, mostly about how recruiting is going in my class and in the classes right behind me. We talked about Mitch McGary and Shabazz and how much the staff is trying to get them to be a part of the staff and then we also talked about the class right behind me and how the staff is recruiting guys like Matt Jones, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker.
Coach K actually asked me if I felt like we had a shot at getting all those guys and I told him that I felt like we had a really good shot at getting all of them. Coach K mentioned that they were going into an in home visit with Shabazz the day after my in home visit and he said they were real excited about getting to meet with him.
How does the interaction on that aspect of program management work for you?
You know, I really like it because I'm all about winning and I'm all about making sure that we continue improving as a team and bring good players into the program. I like being able to talk with guys about coming to play with us at Duke.
You've talked about always learning from the coaches in the past. So what is something you learned about Duke during the visit that you previously didn't know?
Well, they had some real cool facts about the program that they shared that I really enjoyed. Like they told me they were on TV more than the Lakers last year and that they have the most lottery picks any college program has in the country and they even told me something about the rep that they seem to have that they don't produce good NBA big men in that when you look at what their big men are currently making in the NBA right now for salaries, their big men are making three times the total amount that the next school's big men are making as total salary. I thought that was really cool because I feel like their big men wouldn't make that kind of salary unless they had proven themselves as really good NBA players.
In closing can you describe, in a few words, your relationship with the Duke program?
It's stronger than ever in my opinion. I was talking with my dad this morning about it, we woke up and he was still excited about having the opportunity to have Coach K in our home and get to talk with him and his staff. I know for me I already feel like they are my coaches and I talk with them a lot, through Facebook, email, I'll call them a lot, so that relationship is really growing stronger and now that my family has gotten a chance to get to know them even better, that just makes it even greater how I feel about being a Duke player.