One on one with Dylan Ennis

With starting point guard departing for the NBA, Duke is left with a gaping hole at the lead guard position. One option is to find a graduate transfer, and one of the best options there is former Villanova Wildcat, Dylan Ennis. We spoke with him about the transfer process and where Duke sits on his list of schools.

How are you feeling about the transfer process in general Dylan?

Dylan Ennis: It’s going well, me and my father are staying in contact every day with each other, we’re always on the same page which is good. I’ve been through this process twice before, first when I was coming out of high school and then when I transferred from Rice to Villanova. I’m definitely more comfortable with this whole process and each step I take.

You’re graduating from Villanova with a degree in…?

A degree in Communications. With the program i’m looking to take, each school is different and has been talking about where I could have a class to be a part of for this next year. It’s going to be something geared towards marketing or business, I want something that will make me more versatile but at the same time that will complement my communications degree.

Have any program in your final list caught your eye with a masters program that looks interesting?

Actually all of them. All of them have degrees that I would be able to have time to focus on basketball but at the same time get my degree in a year, get my masters in a year which is great. Grad students here at Villanova I know go to classes regularly but at the schools i’m considering, they have unique grad programs so that I can do basketball and still earn my masters in a year. 

What kind of knowledge or experience did you gain from your first two transfers that you are applying to this transfer process?

No matter what the school name is, what their history is, you have to put that behind you. No matter what kind of draft picks they have at their school or having a certain amount of wins, so I gotta find out what school is best for me and my situation and what will fit Dylan Ennis as of today.

Also knowing what is the truth and what is the glamour. People go on these trips in high school and it’s all glamour to them because they are getting treated to dinner at the best spots, staying in the nicest hotels, but when I go on these visits, I know what to look at and what to keep me away from in terms of distractions. With me being 23 years old and having my father having gone through this, I think we both know what we want and we’re going to be honest with all the schools and we want the schools to be honest with us. 

How many total schools have expressed interest in you once you declared that you were transferring?

Yeah at a point I had a list of 25 schools and that was before my dad, some of the schools my dad called and said that we wouldn’t be interested. 

As you were talking with your dad about whittling down your list from the group of 25 schools down to your Top 8 list that’s out there now—what did your conversations center around?

Being the primary point guard, being that decision maker because at Villanova, we had a four guard offense which isn’t bad, I could be successful in that kind of offense, but for this last year I wanted to be the primary decision maker and also going to a school where they understand that i’m only there for a year. I don’t have that time to be there and develop as one of their players, so I’m going in there with my winning tradition while also being comfortable with knowing that they will like me there for a year and they will respect me as not just as a player, but as a person. Whatever school I go to and then leave from, I still want to have those connections after that year.

Did you have any background with the Top 8 list of schools prior to this process?

No not at all. All the schools that called me after the season. I stuck with Villanova till the absolute end and then after the season me and Coach Wright talked and we got to deciding that I was going to play somewhere else and that’s when I got the release and that’s when the schools started calling. Coach Wright has been getting calls from schools and I sat down with him and told him what I wanted in a school and he was able to relay that to all the other schools. He also did a great job at telling me what would be a great situation for me with different schools.

With the Top 8—was there different reasons for each school that led you to have them on the Top 8, or were there different reasons you had for naming that group a Top 8?

I think the Top 8 are there because I feel like what they have to offer is what I like and am looking for. With their systems, having all of them wanted a mature, well-rounded point guard, i’m not going anywhere where I feel like I’m going to be a shooting guard, or a small forward. All those programs need a point guard, so I wanted people to know that I wanted to get back to being a point guard. They are all on my list because whatever we said to them, they liked and what they presented to me, I liked.

Can you shed some more light on what you and your dad said to them?

  Yeah just going back to being the primary point guard. I talked to a couple of schools who wanted to put me back in a four guard offense that once we got over half court, they would have other guards who would make the decisions. I want to be on a team where I have all five guys can make decisions but I want to be the point guard where the offense is run through the point guard where he is the head of the snake, an extension of the head coach on the court.

You also have a real diversity of schools from a distance perspective Dylan—literally all over the country. What are your thoughts on the distance factor with some of these schools being far away from where you have been these last few years?

I’ve been all around the world, all around America. I loved in Canada and I went to school at Villanova and I was in Illinois and in Houston and now I’m in Philadelphia, so where it’s at doesn’t have any affect on me. I think the system is what i’m going to focus on with a school, location is the last thing I’m going to worry about.

What are you and your dad thinking about on the timing of potential visits and how many?

Yeah we’re getting a lot of in-home visits either with them coming to visit me here or they go visit my father. I think Wednesday will be the last day where I’ll meet with a school and then after Wednesday hopefully me and my father will sit down and figure out what schools we want to cut down to by that weekend and then from there, just look at my school schedule and his work schedule and just really grind out what places to go visit. Whether that has to be a two day visit or something else, I don’t have to go to a school and be there for long, as long as the high school guys go there, I can figure out in a day as long as they show me what I need to see. Me and my father are knowledgeable in this aspect, we know what we want and hopefully we get this done before graduation on May 16. I want to go there when students  and the players are there to see how they interact with the coaches and I want to get a whole feel because I don’t feel like it’s genuine if I go there in the summertime when no one is there. I’m trying to get it done before school lets out.

Where are you and your dad in the in-home visit process ? All done, not even close to being done—what’s the situation there?

Those are still to occur. Illinois and Georgia Tech have come down already and all the rest of the schools are lining up to come visit between tomorrow and Tuesday. Tomorrow i’m still figuring out a couple coaches and the timing of when they might come tomorrow. Nobody is locked in as of yet but we are still working on it especially with them coming on the same day and flying to see my father and then come see me.

Each school in the Top 8 I’m sure uses their point guards in different ways—what’s your reaction been to what those programs have shared about how they would utilize you if you went there?

I think all the school stand out in their own way. Whether it’s we want to go back to an offense where the point guard comes off ball screens or we swing it to a big off another ball screen, or we want to have the point guard have it at the start of the possession and then he touches it again later on. Other schools have always had point guards that were their leading scorer or he led the team in points and assists. Like look at Rick Barnes, he’s at Tennessee now but he’s had some point guards in the past at Texas. How they use their point guards is what I’m looking at with the programs.

How much dialogue have you had with the coaches about their recruiting plans—especially with the class you would be coming in this fall?

All of them, they all touched on it, who is coming back and even talking about what recruits are coming in at the point guard position or who is still doing official visits, whether it be with high school players or other transfers. I think we just have to be honest and we went into this telling coaches that we’re going to be honest with you, we just want you to be honest with us. 

In your analysis of the top 8 and potential depth charts—do any present any unique challenges for you and your dad to assess your potential fit in light of any recruiting situations or roster situations?

I’m not really concerned, I understand that coaches have to sign players that are available. If I told everybody to wait out on me, there’s going to be 7 schools that are going to be angry when I make my decision. I’m not too worried about anybody else and I’m not going to rush my decision just because somebody else might commit. I think God has a plan and if those other guys commit before me, that’s on them and I have to make my decision when I’m ready and be respectful of the other guys being recruited.

I saw that Duke made your Top 8—can you give any details on where the process is with them and what the communication has been like so far with them?

Yeah, they are a great program and they know how to deal with their recruits very well. I was talking with them and my father has talked with them but we’re going to take it day by day with them. They waited this year to recruit point guards because they were waiting until Tyus left, so it’s still really fresh with them with being recruited by them, that’s why we’re taking it day by day and having contact with me and my father and we’re going to go from there.

Are they one of the programs slated to potentially visit you tomorrow?

We’re still working on when they are going to come in. It’s just keeping in communication with them and seeing where things go.

Have you and your dad been speaking with Coach K?

I talked to the assistant coach a lot but I haven’t talked with Coach K yet. Seeing what they want to do and what I want to do, as we talk more we’ll see where we’re going with it.

What are your thought process towards Duke at this point based on the limited exposure you have had to talk with them?

I understand they came in later than everybody because Tyus was potentially coming back while all the rest of the teams had point guards that were gone already either by graduating or they decided to declare or transfer. It’s Duke University and they have a great tradition, but it’s never a done deal just because they are the National Champion or because it’s Coach K, if they bring me on a visit, I definitely still want to weigh my options, look around and see if I fit in because if it’s not the right fit, i wouldn’t go there just because it’s Duke University. They are more unique than the other schools because Tyus decided so late to go pro, you can’t fault them on that.

What makes you so comfortable with that situation regarding Duke and Tyus and the timing of their interest in you?

I think I’m different from everybody else, I feel like everybody needs a chance because you might not know what you like or don’t like. There’s schools that I didn’t feel like I fit in there but they still called me and gave me their thoughts and I listened to them. So with Duke if people turn around from them, that doesn’t have anything to do with me and I feel like I want to give them a fair shot, just like everybody else.

What’s been your reaction to all the fan reaction to your list—especially with Duke being on it?

People have their own opinions but most of them don’t play the game of basketball. The schools that are recruiting me are doing their job and if any school, not even just Duke, but any school who has interest in me has a basketball mind and me being a basketball player I have the confidence that I can play anywhere so I don’t focus on what the fans think, I worry about what I do and the schools recruiting me.

How many visits do you think are going to be important for you to take before deciding?

  I’m still feeling that out every day. I may not have to do a lot of visits but I think I’m smart enough to narrow it down to maybe a list of 5 or maybe less that I want to solely focus on. As far as the visits, me and my father are going to sit down and talk about it and go with what we feel best. If we feel like we have to take three, we’ll take three. If we feel like we may not get to 5, then we may not do that and make sure we get it done at the right time.

On that line of thinking, are you the kind of guy who may end it after one visit, or will you look at definitely making a set number of trips?

I don’t think I will take one visit because I don’t think that’s very smart. The first visit is always very big with everybody. I don’t think i’m taking one but I can’t promise that I’ll be taking five, I don’t think I need to see all that but at the end of the day, if I take five, then I’ll do that. I will do whatever it necessary to help me make the right decision. 

Is it a vastly different set of criteria for you and your dad to figure out what schools will host a visit from you versus the criteria you used to get down to a top 8 list?

  No not at all. I’ve been doing research on all eight schools and my father has been doing the same and we both talked about that and we’re going to continue to look at the research that we have. Then with the in-home visits are going to help us connect with the coaches and learn what they want from me and what I want from them. It doesn’t change from the eight going down to the five.

What are the major questions you will go into the visits that you haven’t been able to learn just in the recruiting process up until this point?

I think the coaches are doing a great job, I’ll definitely be asking the coaches a lot of questions but I really want to focus on the visit to talk with the players. With the coaches if they want you they are going to tell you that they want you, but you are also going to get some honesty from the players, especially since they will know I’m only going to be there for a year. If a guy came here and asked me how I felt about school, I would definitely tell them because you don’t want to go into a situation where the coaches really want you but the players have something to hide. So on the visits I want to spend time with the players so I can see how they communicate, both with each other and with the coaches  and know their opinions of the schools.

Are there any schools on your top eight that you think are likely to receive a campus visit from you?

No not yet, all those eight schools I’m wide open with them, they have all different aspects that I like and I think right now, it’s all wide open. 

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