Ivan Rabb: Well at first, it was a lot, I don't know how to say it, there were a lot of eyes on me, so at first I was getting used to everything but now, everybody is kinda expecting me to do bigger things. That's the biggest change for me. When I first started going through this, people were trying to figure out what I was capable of and I learned through repetition on how to be a great player. Growing up when I first started playing, I was never like, the best player on the team, so I started playing with more confidence once my talent started getting better and playing with my best friends and others, I just started getting better and my game took off.
What led you to taking basketball seriously at a young age?
I would say it was my AAU coaches when I was much younger, I would practice and they would tell me, we're not going to just let you stay the same as a player, you have to get better each day and so they pushed me to get better. I started out first with my name kinda being on the West Coast and then when my name started buzzing around in other places and the whole country, there were things that happened in my development that helped me get even better.
Are you trying to take a hands on approach to the early recruiting process?
I enjoy it I would say but I also manage it. Like, if I were to answer every text message or every phone call, it would affect me doing my homework or hanging out with my friends or spending time with my family, so a lot of times I'll call people back, but I try to manage it. I just do the best I can to be as normal as I can.
Was there anybody you watched how their recruiting process went to try and glean some info on how to handle yours?
Before I met Stanley Johnson, I had never met anybody who was like a really highly ranked player like him, so once I met him last summer, he would tell me a lot of good things. Like he told me that if the head coaches are calling you, that's when you know they are serious about you, so he said to try and deal with the head coaches as much as possible because that means they really want you. He also said to be patient with the really big name schools because they need a chance to see you play and grow from who you are as a freshman/sophomore player. I have a lot of respect for him for what he's shared with me.
That sounds like some wise counsel from Stanley…
Yeah, I respect him just because of the advice he gave me and I just had to listen to him because I knew he's humble and was telling me the right things.
With Stanley going to Arizona, does that give them a leg up in your recruitment?
I think they think that's the case, but I'm going to make my decision based on where I want to go, just like Stanley made his decision to go there based on that's where he wanted to go.
How do you deal with conjecture that certain schools are leaders for you at this point?
When I was younger, it used to irritate me, but now, it doesn't bother me as much, if somebody says it, I just ignore it because I know that I'm not going to make a decision to go to a school just because somebody says that's where I'm going to go to school.
Which head coaches have you personally been interacting with?
Coach K, Coach Montgomery, Coach Calipari from Kentucky, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, a lot of the big schools that are recruiting me the hardest, Coach Sean Miller, schools like that have contacted me personally or have come to my game.
Has there been anything from the head coaches that has really stood out in your communications with them?
You know, sometimes people have different agendas, but they all tell me that they are going to develop me, they aren't going to try and totally change my game, they try to add to what their big guys can do. I'm trying to watch what kind of system they have and what they ask their big men to do, because I may not fit their system and what they ask their players to do. All of those details are what's going to add up to what my choice will be.
Fitting into a system, what kind of system is best for you?
I think the system that's best for me is a school that likes to run, but also runs half court sets because you are not going to be able to run the whole game. You also look at how coaches play their players.
From a position standpoint, are you the type of forward who likes to play in the post more, or do you like the perimeter?
I like doing a variety of things, whatever my coach wants me to do. Like if the coach wants me to bring the ball up I'll do that or if I need to post a lot if that's what my coach needs me to do. I'll get on the wing too, I'm a team player, whatever the coach wants me to do.
Do you have an impression on what schools that are recruiting you that you feel do a good job utilizing big men like you?
Actually I don't have an impression yet, just because I haven't watched a ton of games this season, I've watched a few with my dad, so I need to watch more games and talk with the coaches some more, see how they would develop me.
Based on your interactions so far with coaches, do any of them stand out for what they've said about how they want to develop you?
Well, some of the coaches have said they see me doing things that they haven't seen in a long time, so they want me to be able to do that for the whole game. Like at Duke, they say I can step out and hit the 15 foot jumper in their system and then I watch the game and I see that happen, so I know if I were to go to that type of school, I know that the offense would actually work for players in their system and it's not just them telling you that you could work in their system.
How much are you personally paying attention to other guys that schools are recruiting and what the potential depth chart is?
Yeah, that's something I'm looking at because if I go somewhere, I'm not going to go there if they have a lot of people who play the same exact position as me, so ultimately I'm looking to go in and earn my spot and play my position.
Since you are a versatile player, is it your hope to play alongside a talented, physical center in college?
I would like to play with a big that can score inside, if you have a big like that there, that can open my game as the four even more and I can play a game off of him, a little 2 man game, pass the ball, different things.
You've got some good friends from USA Basketball, correct?
Yeah, I'm really good friends with Diamond Stone and Malik Newman, I'm friends with all the other guys on the team as well, but I'm really good friends with those guys. I think it's how we relate to each other and our character. Like, we're all serious but we can also joke around and do things off the court. We all come at things from the same perspective in that we want to play basketball but we also want to have something to fall back on, I guess that's the biggest things why we're friends and we've also played together, I think that's why we're so friendly together, because we can talk to each other and help each other grow.
With you, Diamond and Malik, how much do you talk about playing together in college ? Is that a serious option that you 3 are considering?
It's something we've talked about, it might not be something we do, but it also might be an option depending on what schools we consider.
Duke and North Carolina are two schools that are recruiting you based on reports, can you shed some light on what your thoughts are on the programs now that you've been interacting with them?
North Carolina has always been a really good program as has Duke, they both always have really good players so there's that, I like how they use their players, they always have really good players.
Your mom mentioned you've interacted with Coach K and the Duke assistants, what's that been like for you?
I've talked with Coach K before like with USA Basketball and they checked in with me back in December, Coach K told me to continue to keep working but they didn't offer me a scholarship yet, they said they are going to keep watching me play.
Does the lack of a scholarship offer impact your opinion of Duke?
I'm not sure yet with that, maybe there's something they are looking for in my game before they offer me a scholarship but for me, it's not about how many offers I rack up at this point.
If they did offer, how does that impact your view of them?
They would definitely be one of the top schools on my list just because they are a team that is real prestigious and I really like their head coach and assistants and how they play. We'll see how things go down the line, I'm not sure where things are going with them. They checked up on me around Christmas and New Year's, but they haven't talked to me too much.
As you evaluate schools, where does the timing of the offer factor in?
I think with the early scholarship offer, that isn't as big an impact, all it means is that they saw something in me that they liked enough to offer me a scholarship early.
Are you the type who wants to take a lot of visits before you make a final decision?
I think I want to take at least five visits, and I think in talking with my mom, I'll probably be more ready to make a decision after I get to take at least five visits to different schools.
Your parents are obviously very plugged in with your recruitment, how much do you think you'll lean on their thoughts of schools to determine how you feel about schools moving forward?
Well, they are going to have an impact, and I trust them, but they want me to make my own decision because I'm the one going to school, so they want me to comfortable with my decision, they most likely are going to help me make the best decision, but I'm going to make the decision most likely at the end.