One on one with Sacha Killeya-Jones

He visited Duke at the end of the November and shortly after returning home Lynchburg (Va.) Virginia Episcopal School standout Sacha Killeya-Jones sat down with TDD to update his recruitment; recap his visit to Durham; and much more.

  Did I hear correctly that you were wearing some sort of cast ? How are you doing?

Sacha Killeya-Jones: Yeah, I broke my left wrist a few weeks ago. I’m doing fine, they gave me the cast and they wrapped it up really good and said I could play. I’m getting it re-evaluated, right around the corner. It’s affected my game a lot, defensively I’m still the same but with rebounding it’s been a little bit harder because I have to be careful with my hand. Offensively, I can kinda do some stuff with my left hand but not a whole lot because the wrap they gave me—it’s huge. I can shoot alright with it, I don’t shoot all that much but I really can’t go left at all.

What made you want to play through that instead of just sitting out and letting the injury fully heal?

I mean, I figured that because my team isn’t that deep anyways, I figured I would play at least a little bit and try to help as much as I could. I broke my ankle awhile back and I was out for 4 weeks, which I really hated.

How are you adjusting to your new high school and teammates in Lynchburg?

I like it a lot, we’re going to be pretty good and we have a good core of 5-6 guys, I really like playing with them. They are all good teammates and I really like being out there on the court with them. I play a really big defensive role with them, especially in the paint with them. Offensively, I’m getting plays off the block and at the short corner too and I’m running and scoring in transition too.

What are you up to height and weight wise now?

I’m 6 -foot-10 and about 207 pounds. I’m playing a stretch 4 role. That’s what I’m being recruited as.

Based on who is recruiting you—who has done a good job communicating to you what their vision is for you as a player if you were to play in their program?

I think maybe the best job has been with Tony Bennett at UVA, he’s really been very direct, he wants me to play the stretch 4 role there. He thinks that’s the best fit for me and that’s how he really wants me to play there.

  What are your thoughts on Coach Bennett and the UVA program?

I really like Coach Bennett and I really like them a lot as a program. He’s really honest, it’s good to be around him and obviously he’s a great basketball mind. I like their program in general, especially with them being an up and coming team in the ACC. Coach Bennett is personally recruiting me.

Who else has extended firm scholarship offers since the summer?

My most recent ones were Saint Joseph’s, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UVA, George Washington, Wake Forest, Richmond, VCU and Virginia Tech too. It felt really good to be offered and recruited but I don’t get too caught up in it, especially since recruiting is such a weird process. I used to like it a lot more awhile back, but now, I don’t dislike it, I guess I’ve just gotten used to it.

What do you mean that it’s a “weird” process for you ? How so ?

The whole texting thing, with June 15th this summer, once they could start texting me it was weird because before they’d ask you to get in contact with them and then I would call the coach. Since June 15th though they will call and text at all kinds of weird hours, that was the big thing, just the calling and texting.

Aside from Coach Bennett, are there any other coaches that you really enjoy communicating with—either via text or call?

Let me think, I like talking with Coach McNeilly from Virginia Tech, I like talking to Coach Sutton from Georgetown, I really like Coach Nate James from Duke, Coach Morrell from VCU, Coach Childress from Wake Forest, I know his son and I really like him too. Those are some of the guys.

What do you like about Nate James from Duke?

Actually when I was really young I went to his camp, when I was like 8 I went to his camp. It was him and Chris Carrawell at that camp and I went for 2 years so I guess I have a little bit of a history with him. I took two visits to Duke this past break, I went there on Wednesday for a  game and then Coach K and everybody invited me back for Sunday for their next game, so since I didn’t have much to do that day, I figured I would go back and visit again. With Coach James, he’s just so easy to talk to, he keeps everything honest when talking with recruiting and all that stuff.

What has Coach James expressed to you so far reference Duke and you and recruiting?

That this upcoming class with my group is different from what you normally see with Duke, the caliber of players that Duke usually has, like Justise Winslow, Jahlil Okafor, guys that could go one and done. Like Jahlil, he’s gonna be one and done, Justise could be the same. So he said looking down the road 1 or 2 years could be a little harder for them but they think right now that they will definitely need a couple of bigs in my class, that’s really who they are recruiting right now is forwards and that’s where they think I fit in, that kind of role and that’s what they are looking for.

What are your thoughts on that communication?

I like Duke, I’ve had a good time on both of my visits. If that’s a situation that works out I would definitely be pretty interested in them.

What did you like about your on-campus visits to Duke?

Wednesday they played Furman who they blew out. The game was fun to watch, the crowd was pretty good even with the Cameron Crazies not actually being there since they are on break. It was a little less than usual, but it was fun even still and we were right behind the bench during the game and then after the game we sat down with Coach K. That was the first time we really spent a long time around Coach K, it was me, my coach, my mom and my little brother and I know my little brother really really enjoyed talking to him. It was just kinda cool to talk to Coach K in person, we had a really good feel for what he was talking about.

What did your little brother like about Coach K in the conversation?

My little brother I think he likes going on the visits more than the likes me (haha). He loves to meet big time names in college basketball, so anytime he does that, he loves meeting them. Like when we went on the Georgetown visit, we got to meet John Thompson Sr and he loved that and he loves meeting coaches like that, so meeting Coach K was really big for him. He didn’t say much to Coach K, he just kinda smiled the whole time.

What were your impressions of the conversation with Coach K?

We mostly talked about my recruiting process and where he sees my game, what I need to improve on. He said that’s my strength, post moves and ball-handling, just continue to work on skill development and my body which was good because we actually have a pretty good strength and conditioning program at my school, I’ve put on like 15 pounds this year. That’s something I’m working on, those were the two big things with Coach K and also he was telling me more about the program.

How do you think the meeting with Coach K affected your recruitment overall from your perspective?

I really like Duke, Coach K, it was great and I’m glad I got to sit down with him. Obviously it’s a little different with him behind closed doors with him as opposed to what you see on TV, so it was real cool to get that different side of him. It definitely affected me positively to talk with him. He was more relaxed behind closed doors, he laughed at a lot of things which was different from what you see on the sidelines when you typically see him with a more stern face. He was more relaxed in the meeting.

What kind of questions did you or your mom have for Coach K?

Where they see me and what do I need to work on. We actually also got to talk with the academic guy as well, so my mom had some questions there about academics and what kind of classes I need to make sure I take both because Duke is a challenging academic school and with the new eligibility rules for high school players, just making sure my transcript looked good and they said my transcript looks fine, everything is good and they cleared that up.

Did Coach K discuss a potential scholarship offer with you at all?

No, he didn’t.

  If Duke comes in with a firm scholarship offer in the future—how do you see that affecting your consideration of them?

I think it’d be a pretty big deal especially considering my background with living in North Carolina. With UNC and Duke, I definitely would seriously consider those two schools and when I was watching them when I was younger, I never would have thought I would even be talking with them or even other really good schools out of state like Georgetown, UVA, places like that. The scholarship offer is obviously a big deal and those two would be huge.

Are there any other schools that you really hoping to have a scholarship offer from before you finalize your recruiting process and decision?

I would say UNC and Duke and obviously the major, top of the line schools like Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, schools like that. I’ve heard a little bit from Kentucky actually, but schools like those, that would be good.

Do you and your family have a plan in place for your recruitment timeframe wise ? Or just taking it day to day?

I’m not sure, I’ve been talking to my coach a little bit about it because he knows a lot more about this process since he played at UVA before. He set the record for 3s at UVA and he was a McDonald’s All American and all that, so he knows a lot more about the recruiting process than I do. I will talk with him and with my parents and when they think it’s best timetable wise, I’ll trim my list and then make a decision.

Any further visits lined up in the future?

I don’t have any further visits lined up right now, but I’m usually pretty bad at remembering everything with that because there have been times where things have come up that I wasn’t expecting and I go visit.

As you move forward in figuring out what schools you feel really strongly about potentially committing to them—what are the main factors you will discuss with your parents and your coach?

I want to play at a school that has a really high level of competition first of all that will play a really competitive schedule and win a lot of games. That’s my first thing I want to have and then also academically, I don’t want to be at a school that will just let me slide by academically, that’s a really big deal for me also. Lastly, socially, I want to find a school and this comes with visits and getting a feel for the campus and the coaches and the program where I really feel I could spend 4 years there.

The role you are looking to have as a player in college—are there any schools recruiting you that you feel do a really good job with players like you and the role you want to have in college?

Yeah I can look at a guy like Isaac Copeland at Georgetown, he’s got a little bit of a similar body/build to me, so it will be interesting to see how much weight they put on him since he’s a freshman. That’s one example, that’s the first I could think of.

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