NBA CAMP: One on one with Ivan Rabb

One of the top players in the class of 2015 grew up fond of Duke, but it took a while for the Blue Devil coaching staff to engage him on the recruiting trail. Now, midway through the summer, where does Ivan Rabb stand with Coach K's program. We spoke at length with him to find out.

How have things been going for you Ivan—what have you been working on with your game recently?

Ivan Rabb: I'mI've been hitting the weight room a lot and i've been shooting a lot of jump shots, free throws and stuff, my game is becoming more polished and I'm becoming more confident with my game. I banged my knee last week but it's nothing serious, I've been able to go out and do what I want to do in drills, so i'm fine. I just banged knees with somebody and it was painful, but I just kept icing them and I'm fine, I sat out for 3 days, but now I've come back strong.

What's your summer plans?

Right now it's just USA and Peach Jam, i'm not sure if I'm going to LeBron yet, I haven't made up my mind on that, I went last year to LeBron and going into the Peach Jam I was really fatigued, so i'm not sure I want to do that again this year. I think we have a really good chance to win the EYBL, so I want to make sure I can help us do that.

Part of your summer schedule included some East Coast school visits, is that correct ? How did you handle fitting all those visits into a relatively short period of time?

Actually I enjoyed all of them, only thing I wish was that I would have had more time at the each of the schools to really enjoy everything, but, North Carolina was my first visit and they showed me around campus and I really enjoyed myself there, I got a chance to see the guys and play a few games and scrimmage with them. I enjoyed my time there and then that same day I went to Duke, I didn't really get to see the campus much, but I did get to meet with Coach K and we talked for about an hour and a half and then the next visit was Georgetown, they also made me feel like I was a part of the family there and I had a good time there as well. 

What went into you saying that UNC and Georgetown made you feel "part of the family?"

Just, I don't know, when I was talking to them, I felt like I already kinda knew them and I was comfortable with them, I wouldn't really hold anything back with them, like if I asked a question, it wasn't really reserved, I just said what was on my mind.

Did you have a different kind of feeling when it came to your interactions with the Duke staff?

No, no, Duke's kinda the same thing, we just didn't really, we had a good conversation, it was more different from the other two because at the other schools, they took me around, I met all the players, stuff like that.

What did you discuss with the UNC coaching staff?

Coach Williams wasn't there because we changed our schedule, he was supposed to be there on campus on Saturday, but we changed our schedule and went to North Carolina on Friday because it was the closet to the tournament I was playing in at the time. He called me and we talked for awhile. 

What did you learn about the schools you visited that you didn't know about them beforehand?

They are a lot different than the schools I've been to on the West Coast which are Cal, Stanford. The schools on the East Coast that I looked at, besides Georgetown, with Duke and North Carolina, they are like in more rural areas, lot of nature and things like that, it's all close knit, the part that I visited of North Carolina's campus, it was kinda small, but close knit and everybody that was there, they were good with talking with each other, seemed real family friendly. Duke like I said I didn't really get a chance to really see much there, and Georgetown at least was kinda the same thing, at least the area I visited, it felt close together, people were on the streets, together, talking, having a good time. I got to see some of their classroom settings as well, that's the other thing, they all have different kinds of classrooms, Georgetown had this one building, it was kinda like an old-school building, I don't remember the name of it, but it was kinda like it felt like the first building on campus and it was still old school and modern. Everything it was a big difference between the campuses. 

From what you've seen at the campuses, are you pretty happy with what the student-athlete setup appears to be?

Yes from what i've seen yes, but you also never really know until you are there. When I was at North Carolina, I was actually able to talk with some of the kids who were in summer classes and they went to class together, they lifted weights together, they would play together. 

I heard that you and Diamond Stone were Face-timing while he was visiting UNC and Georgetown, can you confirm that?

Yeah, I talk to Diamond all the time, we're thinking about going to the same schools, but we're really not sure what we want to do just yet. It's a real possibility that I could play together in college with Diamond and Malik Newman, the only thing that's not for sure is we all have schools recruiting us that we have in common, but we also have schools that are recruiting us that aren't recruiting all of us. Like Cal, Diamond and Malik aren't considering Cal and like, I think Malik is considering SMU, but I don't think Diamond and I are really considering going there and Diamond also has schools like Wisconsin but me and Malik aren't thinking about them, so it's not like that, but we also all have a certain group of schools that we all enjoy and where we think we could go together.

Which schools are those?

Well, we haven't talked about it in a long time, when we're at USA Basketball next month, we're going to sit down and talk about it and really figure it out, but some of the schools I can name for sure include Kansas, Kentucky, those two really want to go visit Connecticut and I'm not sure if i'm going to be able to go do that with them, but I know they both want to go visit UCONN together. I haven't really had a chance to talk about UCONN with them.

In talking with your mom about the Duke visit, she described it as a "frank" and "direct" conversation with the Duke staff—can you shed some light on what your experience was like with that talk?

Yeah she talked about why they hadn't offered a scholarship and we had a really good conversation, at first it was kinda weird, but then we were just talking and I think they really respect me a lot more because I think at first when I came into the office, I don't think they really knew what type of kid I was and I came into the office and I told them straight up, there was another kid that they were recruiting that they thought they had a good chance at getting and that's why they weren't really recruiting me, but I talked to them and I told them straight up that I could play with anyone and i'm really unselfish as a player and I told them that the kid they are recruiting is the same way and I felt like we could really complement each other because there's things we do the same but also things we do different from each other. I basically told them, the player they are recruiting, he's more polished right now, but I think respectfully I have a better motor right now and I think we need to switch that in that I need to become more polished and he could work on having an even better motor and if we played together, we could each create that atmosphere and help each other and the team get better. I think they respect me more after that because I think they realize that i'm not big-headed or anything, I want to go to college and I really want to work, I want to get better, so I think they recognize that and ever since we had that meeting, they have definitely picked up their recruitment.

How have they picked up their recruitment of you Ivan?

They call me, all the coaches have been texting me, all the coaches check in on me a lot more, like before that meeting, they would shoot me text messages every now and then, but now they talk to my parents, they talk to my coaches, they talk to me and that's what I can say about that.

It's interesting you say you have seen increased contact from Duke because your mom indicated recently that it's felt different in terms of their contact, like it hasn't been as frequent as you just mentioned—what's your thoughts there?

I know I have felt it, Coach K has contacted me on multiple occasions since the visit. He's been asking me since the visit what iI've been working on, things he sees in my game and things he thinks I could work on to get better at. I've heard from the coaches all the time.

an we go back to the things you discussed in the office with the Duke staff? That conversation about playing alongside what sounds like Chase Jeter from what you've described—did that conversation happen because the Duke staff asked you your thoughts on that, or was it you just shared the information up front to them-based on your own thoughts?

It was both ways, they asked me questions and I would answer them, and me and my mom asked them questions, or me and my coach. It was an honest conversation and I think it helped both parties, me and my family and also the school. They told me that they believed that I could come to school there and really dominate the conference, but like I said, there was a player they were recruiting that they really didn't want to affect that recruitment, which I understood. 

Now that you have a firmer understanding of where Duke stands in your recruitment and in Chase Jeter's recruitment, have you had any conversations with Chase to discuss your recruitments and plans?

Yeah i've talked to him and he said that he's comfortable with playing with me. Chase and I, they didn't know that we actually know each other, I've met him a few times and my best friends played with him on the same team. I know him really well, we feel like we could really complement each other really well but there's nothing I can do about it right now because they haven't offered me yet. That's pretty much where I stand on it right now.

In your recent discussions with Coach K, has he said anything reference their plans in the future potentially to offer you a scholarship-is that on the table?

Yeah I think that's always been the case, they just haven't offered me one yet.

Is there a point you think you will get to in your recruiting process as a whole where if Duke hasn't offered—it'll be time to move on and consider the other schools recruiting you who have offered scholarships?

  That's how I felt before I actually met with them, I told them that if you guys weren't going to offer me a scholarship then it's going to be lingering whether I can go there, but yeah, since then, they have really picked up their recruitment of me. 

What led you to be comfortable to continue staying open to Duke when a formal scholarship offer wasn't presented during the course of the meeting where you discussed that?

The only reason why I came was because my coach was like, you aren't in North Carolina very often, they are only 20 minutes away, why don't we stop buy and talk with Duke? At first I didn't know what I really wanted to do, I don't think I wanted to go, but then I went and I felt like that was a good decision and we enjoyed the visit and we talked everything out and we had a really good conversation. 

From what you are saying, it doesn't sound like it really bothers you that Duke has not given a formal scholarship offer—is that a good read Ivan?

I am bothered a little bit, but if that is a school that I wanted to go to, I guess i'll just have to wait but i'm not really sure what I want to do at this point, i'm not really thinking hard about where I want to go to college yet. I'm trying to sit back, work on my game, enjoy my family and get ready for Peach Jam. 

Is there a potential timeline being discussed when you will be paring your list down?

Yeah I don't think it's going to be a Top 5 when I do the cut, I think it's going to be a Top 6 or 7, but i'm not ready to release it yet because I haven't made my official cuts yet. We definitely have been talking as a family about it.

What have those family discussions been centering around?

They just want me to look at the schools that talk to me the most, the schools that I feel comfortable with even if I haven't been on campus. Places where i've had good conversations with them and I see them at my games and what schools are going to give me the ball in the places where I like receiving it, like they know what i'm hoping to do in college and they know where to play me in their system, that's probably the biggest thing with schools.

Is it important for you to have more discussions with Diamond and Malik next month at USA Camp before you release the Top 6 or 7?

  I don't think I need to, but I do want to see where we stand and if we still plan on wanting to do that. At one point it was really serious, but we haven't seen each other much as recently, so it's kinda died down. When I see them next month, i'm sure we're going to talk about it. Right now i'm not sure but I do know that I will talk to them about this.

When it comes to taking official visits Ivan, are you the type who is going to take all 5, or do you take the approach of taking one at a time and you are open to an early commitment if you feel strongly about a school after the visit?

I'm not sure, that's a really good question, you are right, i've never really thought about it in that way before. I can say that today, right now I want to take all 5 visits and then make my choice after that but, you never know, I may take a visit somewhere during the course of the 5 visits and I may be ready to go there and pull the trigger right there. I'm not really sure though with even what schools I want to take an unofficial or official visit to or when that will happen, but that's a good way to think about it, i've never really thought about how many visits I need to take before making my decision.

How much are you paying attention to projected depth charts and recruiting at other schools as a part of your evaluation of colleges recruiting you?

It is, I do want to see who I would be playing with, but I know that i'm going to put in the work wherever I go and I can get minutes, I don't think that's the issue though as long as i'm working hard, keeping my body in shape, I can go and play. I definitely want to know what point guard i'm playing with, other bigs, if there are multiple bigs, their wings , being in a good situation where i'm either the main guy, or i'm around the team and I can rely on everyone. I could be very unselfish or I could be the main guy out on the court, i'm not sure what I want to do yet with that.

What's your reaction to the line of thinking that it's going to be hard to get you out of the West Coast for college?

It's funny you mention that because that's what Duke actually said to me, they said they felt like I was going to be going to Arizona. I told them that wasn't the case and actually, most of the schools I'm considering, they are aren't on the West Coast. 

As you contemplate playing in the Midwest or East Coast, how are you feeling as you think about potentially going to school away from where your family lives? Is that not that big a deal to you?

I'm not, I don't really know, i've been on trips away with my family but i've never been away from them for like most of the year, I think i'm ready for it, i'm almost an adult and I need to make my own decisions, at the end of the day that's what important to me and my family, that I make the right decision for me as a person.

What's the main factors you are evaluating when it comes to your final college decision Ivan?

I am concerned about playing time I would say, I definitely do want to play but I also want to have the right coach, who will keep me in a system that I feel I would thrive in and I want to have certain teammates where I can rely on them and then the environment, I want to go to a school that has a great fan base and I want to go to a good business school because that's what I want to major in. 


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