Big Time 2014 PG Recaps CTC Experience

One of the top floor general prospects in the class of 2014 resides just down the road from Durham. So it was no surprise that JaQuel Richmond made the trip to Duke for Countdown to Craziness. TDD spoke with Richmond over the weekend to get a recap of the visit and inquire how the early recruiting process is progressing.

What drew you to Wesleyan Academy?

JaQuel Richmond: It was a lot of different reasons, really. One of the big ones was I wanted to play for a former point guard in coach Gatlin. He's played overseas before professionally and he just knows how to coach PG's, I've already learned a lot from him.

You're now teammates now at Wesleyan with Theo Pinson, what's the relationship like between you and him?

It's really, really good. We've got a great connection, we grew up together, I've gone to school with him. He lives like right around the corner from my house, so we walk to school most oftentimes. On the court, he knows my game and I know his real well, so I'm really glad we get to play together this year in high school, I'm already looking forward to playing AAU with him next year and some other former teammates too. With Theo, we just know where each other is going to be since we've played together so much, like he knows if he sees me coming up the wing with the ball where I want a screen or where I can find him for an open shot, there's a great connection there.

Is that connection the big reason why you are switching from the Charlotte Royals to CP3 All Stars this upcoming spring and summer?

That's a part of it I would say, but it's not the only reason. I know a lot of those guys from being in the same area who are on CP3, and getting a chance to play for them means I can play in the Nike EYBL, and that's some of the best competition out there for high school players. Playing with Theo is going to be real tight though, it'll just be a continuation of what we're going to have this year playing high school together.

How are you handling the process of being so highly ranked while still being in the 2014 class?

I really try not to let the rankings get so far into my head, my main thing is I prepare to play to be considered the best player in my class, but more importantly, I want to make sure that I play as a good teammate and try my hardest to help the team win.

Does it motivate you to be considered one of the top PG's in your class?

It does in certain ways, but mostly for competitive reasons. Like I look at other point guards that are out there in my class, guys like Tyus Jones, Wayne Selden and others, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity of matching up against those guys in the EYBL. I'm a very competitive person and I feel like if I'm going to be considered one of the best point guards in my class, I have to earn it, and that starts by playing hard every single day.

How did you get your start in basketball? Who played a big role in your development?

I got my start when I was 2 years old. My dad had played high school ball and he just put a ball in my hands and started teaching me how to dribble, how to shoot, how to set guys up, that kind of thing.

Did you grow up watching any particular teams or players?

Oh yeah, I'm a huge Duke guy. I watched them a lot growing up, they were my favorite team and I also really liked Dwayne Wade. I remember when I was younger watching D Wade, I always remember how he was a team first guy and he was real explosive, I really liked watching him play.

Do you consider yourself a pass first kind of point guard, or more of a scoring guard, like a D-Wade ?

I definitely put the team first, I always look to get myself buckets last. I like seeing my teammates be successful.

What was the major attraction to Duke growing up?

It's a lot of reasons. Like more recently, last year they had Kyrie, I was so mad when he went out because I just saw how great a player he was and I knew that he was going to make a big impact at Duke if he had been able to play the whole year. Him going number one in draft was real cool too. I also really liked Kemba Walker a lot too, he kept working hard all year and UConn had a great season. Kemba had the ball in his hands a lot like Kyrie did before he got hurt, and he was allowed to be a great player, that was cool to see.

You've mentioned "working hard" several times already as a mindset you are drawn to, where did that attitude come from?

It really started with my dad and then I started taking it on for myself. Like during the summer when I'm not in school, I'm in the gym every single day working on getting my body right, working on my shot, working on my dribbling skills with my dad and my trainer and when I'm in school, I make sure I make time for my homework because that's important, but I'm usually in the gym with my trainer for 3-4 hours every night or on the weekend. That's one of the things I liked about watching Duke when I was on campus, they are real disciplined.

What did you get to see when you were on campus at Duke?

Well, I went to Duke's midnight madness recently, but I also got to see the guys practice and that was real cool. I got to meet with Coach Capel and Coach Wojo and I met some of the players, it's just a whole different thing when you get to see those players in person, they are all real cool guys and they have a great attitude.

How did the visit to Duke come together?

Well, Coach Wojo and Coach Capel came to watch me play a couple of weeks ago and I had been watched by Coach K last year at the Peach Jam, so they knew who I was, and Coach Wojo and Capel were like, you want to come visit for Midnight Madness and I was all about it. Getting to see Midnight Madness was real cool, Duke just does things at a great level.

What's different about being recruited by Duke after being a fan?

What it does it makes me want to play even harder. To play at Duke, you have to be a great player and now that I've had the chance to talk with Coach K, he's told me they are looking for a point guard who they can put the ball in his hands and he's going be free to go and keep the team going, and that's what I like, I know I'd have a lot of trust placed in me if I were to go to Duke.

You and Theo are both being recruited by Duke, do you guys talk about playing college together?

It is definitely something we talk about a lot, there's such a good connection with us that since we got three years left of high school to play together, that'll give us a lot of time to strengthen that connection even more and I know we could do some big things together in college if we played together.

Does that mean you two are seriously committed to trying and playing together?

I would say it's something we are really hoping can happen, there's that good a friendship there.

Are there any other schools outside of Duke that are recruiting the both of you guys?

Definitely. Virginia Tech, Georgetown and Syracuse are also both recruiting us.

Are you the proactive type when it comes to your recruitment, do you reach out a lot on your own to coaches?

No, I kind of just wait for the coaches and respond to them you know ? I figure if a coach is taking the time to reach out to me or my family or my coach I owe it to them to contact them back. I also take a serious look at the guys they are recruiting in the class in front of me and in my class too.

Is a school's depth chart then the deciding factor for you in terms of who you have interest in and who you don't?

It's a part of it, like I do look at who are they recruiting at point in the class ahead of me, but like in my class, there's some really good point guards, so I understand if schools are recruiting several different point guards, it's just part of the process.

So what are some of the bigger factors for you in a decision?

I look at the atmosphere around the program, I check to see what the academic situation is, what kind of degrees do they offer, but I'm also looking at how the coaches coach their players, I want a coach who is going to push you to be great. Like with Coach K, I like that he's a coach that I know will push me to get better as a player, that's a really good thing that he does.

So how is the process going to move forward for you?

I'm going to take my time and see how things goes. I think I want to make a decision the summer after my junior year, I want to see more teams and how they play and what they do with their players.

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