Interview with Raymond Felton Sr.
The following is an interview conducted with Raymond Felton, Sr., the father of Latta (SC) High's point guard Raymond Felton.
UNCbasketball.com: I've heard that you've had a great impact on Raymond and his game. Tell me how you've been a part of Raymond getting to where he is today.
Felton, Sr.: When he was young, he was gifted anyway. He could dribble the ball real early, both hands. I didn't really have to do too much. I took him to play youth ball when he was about 4. When he was four years old, he [was supposed to wait until] about 6. But he was good enough at 4. They let him play in two leagues, even then. That helped develop him. By the time he was 6, he was pretty tough then. He was an all-star at that age.
UNCbasketball.com: You saw skills in him even then? You taught him some of his game?
Felton, Sr.: I guess I can take credit for a little bit of it, but he was a guy that was gifted from the start. I was wondering at what he would be best in-he was as good in football --better in baseball. He was the one of the first kids that, at his age, won MVP at the state game in baseball. He was a good quarterback in football. So I didn't really know what he was going to be good in. I knew he was a good athlete. But then he started emerging and got a little older, he [became] real good in basketball. He was scoring--I think he was about nine in a ten-year-old group--he scored 50 a couple of times.
Felton, Sr.: I had to take him out. I didn't let him play his last year as a ten-year-old because he was so much advanced. He was just kind of good from the start.
UNCbasketball.com: Do you and Raymond play?
Felton, Sr.: Yes, we play one-on-one.
UNCbasketball.com: Tell me how it usually comes out.
Felton, Sr.: I beat him up until about the last couple of years, then I stopped playing him because I knew he could beat me [laughing]. I tell him now I could beat him, but you know… [still laughing]
UNCbasketball.com: So what do you think about all the attention Raymond is getting? It seems like something late last summer clicked with Raymond.
Felton, Sr.: I guess it's better to get it than to not get it [laughing]. Sometimes it gets a little bit frustrating to him. I just take it in stride. He's good, you know. You come out of a small town like this and you get ranked in the nation, that's unusual. That's like a blessing, that you'll get your chance.
UNCbasketball.com: Do you get to see most of his games?
Felton, Sr.: Oh yes. I go to work afterward. I look at his game and then leave and go to work, since I won't see him until the next evening.
UNCbasketball.com: What game do you most remember him playing in? What game stands out the most to you?
Felton, Sr.: Probably against Mullins [High School], I think, when he had 31 points, had a bunch of rebounds. He played a great game [this year]. And then the game he played at state last year [playoffs]. That was one of his better games. They lost in the last second. He had games where he had forty-something but they were his better games, I thought, even though he scored a lot. They were times when he played all around good games, good passing, good rebounding…
UNCbasketball.com: What do you think the strongest part of Raymond's game is?
Felton, Sr.: Probably, [when he] breaks you down on defense. His intelligence once he passes that man, he'll pick up that next man that's open. Once he gets by that first man, his decision-making on a 2-on-1 or whatever, he's really strong in that department.
UNCbasketball.com: How about his defense?
Felton, Sr.: Yes, he's a good defensive player, when he wants to be. He clowns around at times, but when he really wants to play, he's a good defender-strong defender, too.
UNCbasketball.com: What are your hopes for Raymond? What's important for you as Raymond chooses a college?
Felton, Sr.: First, you've got to look at academics. Then, a school where, if you're going to play, you'll be recognized, be publicized a lot. His goal is to go all the way. Like I tell him and like he knows, there are so many guys out here that can play. You're going to need all kinds of luck to get that far but, you know, that's his goal and I say, "You can go for it."
UNCbasketball.com: You're referring to the league, the NBA?
Felton, Sr.: Yes. But what I want, is just a good education and he wants to play ball and I'd like to see him play ball. I'll just go to see him play and whatever happens, happens. It's like a bonus to me. I don't look as far as pro ball. If he gets there-fine, great.
UNCbasketball.com: It seems like you have a close family, something that will be important over the next few years as well.
Felton, Sr.: Oh yes, definitely. You've got to look at, you've got to get together and it's not just one person making decisions about where he goes. Because if it's left up to him totally-I'm not even going to say that. I'll wait on that part.
UNCbasketball.com: So, you'll get Raymond's SAT scores tomorrow [2-13-01]? What then?
Felton, Sr.: Yes. We'll sit down and talk it through.