Julius Hodge Talks NBA Draft

Pack Pride spoke with former Wolfpack star Julius Hodge about his recent workouts with NBA teams and his rise up the draft boards as the 2005 NBA Draft approaches.

Pack Pride spoke with former Wolfpack star Julius Hodge about his recent workouts with NBA teams and his rise up the draft boards as the 2005 NBA Draft approaches.

Julius, how has this experience been so far? You've had a chance to travel the country and workout for different NBA teams. It must be a dream come true for you.
It's definitely been a great experience so far. I've been fortunate to have great workouts at the present time, and hopefully I'll continue to do so. It's just been a dream come true because it's what I've put all this hard work in for, and I want to continue working hard up until the final day.

Which NBA teams have you worked out for, and did you have a personal workout?
I've worked out with the [New York] Knicks, Houston, Sacramento, the [L.A] Clippers, Phoenix, Utah, Memphis, Detriot, Minnesota, and today with Toronto. It's definitely exciting, and I still have a couple of workouts left. I also had a personal workout in New York.

That went really well, and I've definitely been shooting the ball much better as compared to college. I've worked on my technique with my shooting coach, and I'm starting to get my shot down pat. I still have a long ways to go, but the hard work with the jumper is paying off because that was probably my biggest weakness in college, and I've been shooting so well I think it's now a strength.

My shooting coach took the time to work with me, and that's all I really needed. Now it's looking better.

I know it's still relatively early, but what teams do you feel are showing the most interest in you?
At this point, many teams have been interested in me, so I really can't narrow it down to one. Basically, I was 99% sure I was going to the Chicago predraft camp when this first started to improve my stock, but now I really don't have to because I've had such good workouts.

I've read on the various internet sites where some had me going late in the second round, and I've used that to fuel the fire in me. Now I'm climbing the ladder and continuing to workout with each team like it's my last.

You mentioned that because you've had great workouts you don't have to go to Chicago for the predraft camp. What do you mean when you say that? Why do you feel you do not have to go to Chicago?
If I go to Chicago I'd probably be the highest [rated] player there, and it's basically a situation where it is best that I not go. I was told that by my circle of trust around me. It was a tough decision because throughout this process I felt I would be going there to beat guys out for spots, but now I'm in a situation where I don't have to attend. It's definitely a good situation to be in, but the competitor in me wouldn't mind playing.

Take me through a typical practice with these NBA teams. What all do you do?
At these workouts we take a lot of jumpshots. It's not about getting up the reps to them, they want to see how you shoot the ball and if it's going in the hole. My technique is not perfect yet, but it's a lot better and really working for me.

There is also dribbling drills, agility drills, and then you have one-on-ones where you go against other guys in the draft. I think it is about your mental capacity and how far that will take you. That is a strength of mine so I do well in a lot of the drills because of my heart and passion. The NBA guys seem to love it.

Why do you feel your stock has risen so much since the end of the college season?

Repeatedly I've been told the improvement of my jumpshot has led to teams showing even more interest in me. That is a plus because I can really dribble the ball and pass. The majority of the teams see me as a big point guard and that's really what I've been trying to do my whole life. I've always preferred to pass the ball and make my teammates better, and I think that's going to benefit me in the pros.

It's great to see that your shot has improved, but don't you also think your versatility is a plus? That's the impression I got from reading the recent reviews on your workouts.
I definitely think my versatility is a major reason, and much of that credit goes to coach Sendek. He now has a player that graduated in four years and has the opportunity to succeed on the next level because I was able to play in that offense. Coach Sendek put me in a position to be successful because I can do all those things I needed to be able to do so I could play for him. I'll definitely give a big thank you to the coaching staff at NC State because they deserve much of the credit.

In reading your scouting reports, it does seem the versatility that you bring to the table really adds to your potential value to an NBA team. Based on your comments, it seems like you feel NC State's system is a major reason as to why you are so versatile. Is that the case?
I think the NC State offensive system definitely has helped me. Coach Sendek has put together a great system that is based on the Princeton principles but with an NC State approach. It has helped me because it has given me an opportunity to play point guard and NBA teams see that. At NC State I had the freedom to do a lot of different things because of the system. I could post up, pass, get out in transition, shoot jumpshots, and improve my dribbling. It has definitely helped me out a lot.

Another thing I've seen is a lot of teams in the NBA are running a similar offense and are intrigued by it. When I go in for a workout they will ask me, 'how did you like that offense?' I'll say, 'I loved it,' and they will piggyback that and say they plan on adding some of the principles into their offense.

You mentioned how some internet sites had you rated in the lower second round, and you have used that as motivation. Does it also give you motivation to see guys you have played against, like Chris Duhon, make it in the NBA despite being a second-round pick?
Definitely. I think that if you are a player you will be able to play in the NBA, no matter where you get drafted. It happened with Chris Duhon, Josh Howard, who was the last pick in the first round, and Gilbert Arenas, a second-round pick. There are other guys too, but on the other end there are some guys who went in the first round but didn't have the right mindset to succeed. As long as you have the right mindset, I think you can have success in the NBA, and that is what I plan to do.

What has been your favorite workout so far?
I would have to say today in Toronto. I was going up against a fellow ACC player, Rashad McCants, my boy from New York, Louisville guard Francisco Garcia, and a high school player, C.J. Miles.

We started the workout, and I was working with Rashad. We were doing shooting drills, and I was hitting everything. I think it was getting discouraging for him and near the end he decided to go to the sidelines in an attempt to say that he was hurt. Once it was found out that he wasn't hurt, he then tried to say he was sick. That was unfortunate, he was free and able to show his stuff, and he shied away from it. Rashad is still a very good player, and I wish him nothing but success in the future. But, I was hoping to get to matchup one-on-one against him. Either way, that was my opportunity to go up against a good player with a high draft status, and I fared well.

The workout finished with me and Francisco going up against each other, and that's my boy. It was like we were back working out during our AAU days. I won two-of-three against him, but we had a lot of fun. I learned some things from him, and I hope he gets drafted high too.

I know you are a New York Knicks fan, so maybe the last question is an easy one. Is there any place out there that you feel would be an ideal situation and where you would like to play?
Every coach wants a guy who plays with passion, is a winner and refuses to lose. I play hard and left a good impression everywhere I went so it doesn't matter to me. Any team would be great, the Knicks would be a dream, but an organization like Indiana would be great to play for too.

I just hope to have the opportunity to play in the NBA because that's always been a dream of mine.

Julius, thanks for the interview and good luck with the rest of your workouts and the upcoming draft.
Thanks, I appreciate it.

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