Inside Carolina Interviews Brad Buckman

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- <I>Inside Carolina </I>correspondent David Thompson conducted a lengthy sit-down interview with Texas star, and Tar Heel frontcourt target, Brad Buckman at Westlake HS. Stay tuned for three more days of Buckman coverage this week, with interviews of his high school and AAU coach, as well as a large photo gallery.

The following interview was conducted on Friday. In a follow-up phone call by IC yesterday, Buckman said that Carolina head coach Matt Doherty spoke with him at length on Sunday. They have scheduled an in-home visit by Doherty in early September and an official visit for Buckman to Chapel Hill. When we have the specific dates, we'll provide them for you. Buckman said that the Tar Heels were "at the top" of his list, alongside Texas and Kansas.

Inside Carolina: You've had an exciting summer. How do you feel about it?

Brad Buckman: I feel like I accomplished my goals. I had set goals going into the tournaments so I think I achieved them in every way possible. If I would've set some more goals I'd have set them a lot higher than I did because I didn't really think going in I'd achieve them but I got that mindset and I went and did it.

IC: What were those goals you had this summer?

Brad: [Working toward becoming a] McDonald's All-American, that was one of my goals. I watched [the McDonald's All-American game] and I thought, man, if only I could be a part of that… This season I want to be Mr. Basketball of Texas which is going to be hard because we have Bracey Wright running against me, and Chris Bosh and Daniel Horton. It's going to be interesting to see how that turns out. Also, All-State 1st Team, MVP of my district as I was already last year, and just come out and go to a great college and spend my next 4 years there, however many [years] I need. Hopefully, to get to the next level after that [NBA].

IC: What were your goals that you've set for next year?

Brad: My goals. Well, I'm not for sure right now. McDonald's All-American—I'm not sure I'm going to be that. If I could try to do that, that would be one of my highest goals. And to work on my perimeter game. Try to get out and shoot threes, just shoot farther than I have before, because I've been involved around the basket more. In college I need to get used to the outside game. These tournaments would help me out because I play the best competition and see where I was at, physically and mentally and if I could hang at the next level. That was one goal.

IC: What was the highlight of the summer for you?

Brad: I have to say my Five Star Camp because it really gave me an idea of where I was, my mentality, what I can do and what I can be… That was my last camp before the big test, before I get a good ranking from everyone, people getting a good look at me and seeing what I was like. Going into that I had to show myself and I had to show the East Coast because you need recognition from both sides to be a McDonald's All-American. I had to go in and show the East Coast that I can do it too, and the West Coast. And I was Most Outstanding Player at the [Five Star] Camp and MVP of the playoffs. It was really good competition out there because, supposedly there were 12-13 All Americans there. If any, that would be the best chance, besides adidas camp to show myself and let people see what I can do.

IC: What is your present height?

Brad: Right now, with shoes on, I'm 6'9 ½". 6'8" without shoes on.

IC: Are you still growing?

Brad: I hope to be. I think I am.

IC: Are you putting on any more weight? How much do you weigh?

Brad: Well, I was 230 at the beginning of the summer but then I just lost some. I'm 225 right now.

IC: You're about 20 lbs. heavier over a year.

Brad: Yes. Since I was a sophomore, I've probably gained 45 lbs. That was one of my goals. I had to get bigger and stronger in order to play this game.

IC: Have you been timed in the 40?

Brad: 5.12

IC: What's your vertical?

Brad: Running, I'm 34".

IC: What position do you see yourself playing in college?

Brad: I'm hoping to be a 4 and then if I need to step out, I'd step out and play the 3. Probably a 4/3 combo. Starting with the 4 and gradually moving out to the 3.

Junior Year Stats:
(35 game season)
19.3 points/game
674 total points
FG - 251/424 - 59%
3pt - 10/28 - 36%
FT - 162/235 - 69%
123 offensive rebounds -- 3.5/game
229 defensive rebounds -- 6.6/game
352 total rebounds -- 10.1/game
3.1 assists/game
1.4 steals/game
148 blocks -- 4.2 blocks/game

IC: Here at Westlake, what is your position?

Brad: Center/forward because I'm the tallest and that's kind of where I got stuck and that's where I'm good at.

IC: Tell me about your game. Break it down for me. If I'm seeing you for the first time, what am I going to notice first?

Brad: Probably how much I hustle and up and down the court because I just love running and beating people down the court. You can get easy baskets that way. If [a team] is not playing very well, you know you can get points just off of that. My inside game—you'd notice that because I have a pretty good inside game because I've been there since I was young. You'd like my jump shot, too.

IC: When did you first start getting the feeling that basketball was something you wanted to pursue and that there was college and beyond related to it?

Brad: 9th grade, probably. I didn't really play basketball before that. I just played every once in a while like every kid plays baseball and basketball. In ninth grade I decided I was going to quit everything and play basketball because I know I can go farther in basketball.

IC: When did you first become a starter?

Brad: I started as a freshman actually. I went to a private school—that was huge for me because that really gave me my confidence, my urge to get better. If I had gone here first, I would probably have been on J.V. and I'd rather be at the highest level. I went to St Michael's.

IC: What is your greatest strength as a basketball player?

Brad: I can run the floor really well. I can shoot. Just basically, the paint. And my defense is getting a lot better, too. See, when I play here, I play more defense because I play help defense. They're good here but I play more help defense.

IC: What would you like to see improvement this season?

Brad: Getting quicker. I really need to get quicker because in college you see everybody run all the way and I'm like, I don't know if I can do that. Because defense is all about quickness, too, and I want to get quicker on both sides.

IC: What position do you like to play most?

Brad: The 3 because you're out and you can catch somebody [playing] off and you can dunk on somebody. But the 4 is my position. I'm physical and I'm strong. I can move my way in there.

IC: What position do you think you'll play in college? For what position are you being recruited mainly? Anybody recruiting you for another position?

Brad: 4/3—they're talking to me about the 4/3 combo. They talk to me about what I want to be. Just strictly that position.

IC: Tell me about your defense.

Brad: I'm guarding the 4. I usually guard the 4. I can guard a 5. I like getting up with them and banging with them. I'm trying to guard the 3 right now because if I'm going to move into the 3 position, I need to guard the 3. And so I need to work on my defense. I feel like I'm a solid defender and it'd be tough to score on me. I'm about blocks and rebounding. I don't really try to swipe the ball much. I just let them come into me and once they turn, I have a good idea of where they're going to turn.

IC: What's your workout like?

Brad: I try to every day. I go about an hour strong, doing all the drills you need to. I'm working on the 3 so I'm working on the 3 drills. I go to the weight room before that. I lift 5 days a week, when I'm in season. Right now, I haven't been really that much.

IC: What style of play are you best suited for? (run and jump, half-court…)

Brad: A little bit of both. I'm all about, if you need to run, just go for it because I'll be running with you and I like the wide-open 3. I like plays too because it's easier to score off of that, but run and gun and half-court, they're mixed. I really don't care.

IC: What do you bring to your basketball team besides the basketball skills?

Brad: I bring hustle and I bring leadership because you need a leader on the team in order to get everything right. If there's not a leader on the team, there's always some guy jackin' around not being serious about it. So you need someone to step up and say, "Hey, get it together. We've got to do it this year. It's my senior year and I want to go farther than we have been going." Definitely, I want to be a leader. At the same time, it's tough because you have friends on the team and you don't want them to think that you're thinking you're "bad" now because you have leadership. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. That's my mindset.

I lead by example but I also can be vocal. I try to go as hard as I can each drill and then people follow me in that. I'm vocal by saying, "Let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go!" and pumping people up.

IC: In what ways have you improved over last year?

Brad: My mindset. I go out each game thinking I can kick everybody's butt. If I haven't, I don't feel satisfied. I have to go out again. I have to think to myself, "what'd I do bad that game?" I just keep trying to do the same thing every game and not lose it.

IC: You like shooting the three?

Brad: It changes the whole game. If you're down two and you make a three, you know everybody's going to get going with you. The three, I like it because, in a way, it's easy but it's a tough three points because they're going to be guarding you the whole time.

IC: What do you consider your shooting range to be?

Brad: Probably out 15', right now. I'll play a high post. If my guy sags down, I'll step out and get open for the shot.

IC: How are you doing in the classroom?

Brad: I'm doing pretty good. I think I'll do a lot better this year. I'll be going to college and I need to get good grades so I can see what I can do to get to college—if I'm good enough to be good in the classroom in college.

IC: Are you qualified already?

Brad: Yes.

IC: What are you looking for as you consider schools?

Brad: I'm looking for a great coach. I love coaches that can go out and joke with you and hang out with you and get to know you personally. You can go up to them and just joke around with them and him not getting really too serious and mean about it. I love team chemistry. I love having a great team that you can go out and hang out with and no one gets pissed off at each other if you do something bad to them or something like that.

I love the fundamental part of the game. I like breaking it down and showing me. I love learning. I love learning and trying to figure out new things—that's what people have been [doing] for me and I'm getting better at it, too.

IC: How important is academics to you in looking at a school?

Brad: It's important enough because if I don't make it to the next level after college then I've got to have something to fall back on.

IC: Do you have an inclination toward any particular area of study?

Brad: Yeah, I want to study business management, but not actually go into the business school. I just want to study the aspect of business management.

IC: How important is immediate playing time to you?

Brad: That would be awesome. That would be my ideal goal—to start as a freshman, because you know people are going to be, like, "Oh you've got him coming back next year; you've got to watch out for freshmen." That would be big, but you won't have to sit behind anybody. Just to have that feeling that you beat out somebody to get that spot would be great. I can't stand sitting on the bench. If I was sitting on the bench, I would be telling myself "you've got to work harder in my areas and keep going at it and, maybe eventually, get in front of that guy."

IC: When did you get your first recruiting letter? Who was it from?

Brad: Sophomore in school. I think it was from a Division III school. University of Redlands, I think.

IC: What is your impression of the University of North Carolina?

Brad: I like it a lot. I like the traditions and you always hear about North Carolina. North Carolina this, North Carolina that. The traditions are awesome. I like the area but it's kind of an old town.

IC: You've been there?

Brad: Yes, I've been there. I went to a basketball camp—I think 8th grade, maybe?

IC: You went to a camp? Who was coaching at it?

Brad: Coach Guthridge. He was coaching there. I didn't really get to meet anybody. Vince Carter was there, during the time there. I really didn't get to meet him. And Antawn Jamison was there, too.

IC: What's your impression of the coaching staff at UNC?

Brad: I like them a lot. I haven't really gotten to talk to them that much. I've only talked to Coach Doherty though. That's the main person I've talked to. [Note: As indicated in the intro, Buckman talked at length with the UNC staff on the phone the day after this interview.]

IC: Who from UNC has seen your games?

Brad: Just the assistant Coach and Coach Doherty.

IC: Coach Wojcik?

Brad: Yes, Coach Wojcik.

IC: Has anyone been here to Austin?

Brad: No, I don't think so.

IC: You played for Pump N Run this summer. This coming September are you going to play any tournaments with them?

Brad: No, I don't think so. I was thinking about it but I don't really think it's worth it. I don't want to have it in the back of my mind that I could get hurt and not be able to play at school. I don't want to let my team down by just going out and playing with them and getting hurt.

IC: If you could have a "dream career"—high school, college and beyond, what would it look like?

Brad: I'm hoping to graduate high school. I would like to average 30 points and about 12 rebounds this season and I probably could, as long as it would help the game and the team. I want to play my game and I'm hoping to score that much. That's what I'm built up to be. That's what I think I can be. But I want what's best for the team. I hope that that doesn't come across as bragging.

IC: Are you better facing the basket or playing with your back to the basket?

Brad: I think I can face up now. During the summer I worked on it—I can face up and go baseline or I can pull up and shoot. But right now, I think I'm more solid with my back to the basket.

IC: How's your free throw shooting?

Brad: Good. My free throw shooting has bounced up to be really good. Last year I was at about 69 percent.

IC: Where do most of your points seem to come from?

Brad: Inside. Dunks, layups… That's where I get most.

IC: Who do you pattern your game after?

Brad: People always look at me as Troy Murphy. They think we look alike and play alike so that's who I most resemble.

IC: What do you like about his game?

Brad: I didn't really get to see him play much but I've heard he was a good 3-point shooter and he could also take it inside. So that's why I want to be like him. He got drafted in the first round.

IC: Have you ever been seriously injured?

Brad: No. [knocking on the desk] No, not really. I broke my little toe once.

IC: What's your favorite thing about being recruited?

Brad: To say you were recruited by those kind of guys. To know, hopefully, you'll get a scholarship. You don't have to worry about stuff.

IC: Do you ever get tired of the recruiting stuff?

Brad: Yes. It gets really tiring sometimes. It comes so frequently now that I know what I'm going to say and then it's done. It gets on your nerves but at the same time you're learning things. It's not bad right now.

IC: Who's the toughest player you've ever played against?

Brad: Going into the summer, I didn't know many players that were good. But I can give you a few. Lenny Cooke. Last year I played against Amare Stoudamire. He's really good. Jason Fraser. Curtis Sumpter. A point guard, who's that guy from North Carolina?

IC: Raymond Felton?

Brad: Yeah, Raymond Felton.

IC: When did you play against Raymond?

Brad: Five Star.

IC: Take one of those guys and tell me how you did against him.

Brad: Fraser, me and him, it went really well. He scored on me a few times and I scored on him a few times. I think we were evenly matched. That was at Five Star. I ended up getting MOP (Most Outstanding Player) of the camp, so I did something right.

IC: Do you work out over at the University of Texas?

Brad: Yeah, every once in a while. I just go up and shoot in the Rec Center. If Westlake's closed, I gotta go somewhere. I have a friend that goes there that went here [Westlake].

IC: What schools are in contact with you?

Brad: Right now, I've narrowed it down where I'm going to visit. I'm going to visit North Carolina, Kansas, and UCLA right now. And Texas, I'll probably visit Texas anyway.

IC: How about Missouri? Are they in the mix at all?

Brad: They were, but I don't know. I couldn't see myself in Missouri. I like the coach a lot. They already have two big men and they play my position and I don't want to go in there…

IC: How about Illinois? I hear Bill Self is in contact?

Brad: Yeah, my coach called him yesterday. I also couldn't see myself going to Illinois. I wouldn't know much about them.

IC: Do any of those schools, UNC, Kansas, UCLA and Texas, stand out above the rest?

Brad: Not really. I've got to go check them out.

IC: Is anyone not recruiting you that you wish would become involved?

Brad: Duke. That's probably on everybody's mind anyway. If Duke were to recruit me, that would be awesome.

IC: So, let me repeat this so that I get it right. You're trying to arrange for North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA and Texas?

Brad: Yeah. I think I have one for Kansas—I'm going to their big "Midnight Madness." I think maybe it's the 12th [of October].

IC: Do you have a timetable for making your decision about a school? What is it?

Brad: Not right now.

IC: Do you want to commit to a school early?

Brad: Yes, most likely. I just want to get this pain over with.

IC: By "early" what do you mean?

Brad: November. Just take all my visits and think about where I want to go.

IC: Where does your family want you to play basketball?

Brad: Texas, of course, because they both went there. My dad really loves it. My mom went there, too. My dad won two national championships in golf there. [Brent Buckman] played on a team with Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.

IC: How do your family's wishes affect your decision?

Brad: My family is always a big part of me. They're there when I don't want them to be [chuckling] and they're there when I need them, so… So that's a big decision, so I want to take that into consideration because I want them to most likely be at every game, but if they can't, it's no problem, they can just watch me on TV.

IC: Who's doing the best job of recruiting you?

Brad: Everyone. Those 4 schools are doing the best job.

IC: Have any of the schools offered you a scholarship/

Brad: Texas has. UCLA—I don't want to say they have but they sure act like they have.

IC: Who is your favorite college team right now?

Brad: Probably Duke or North Carolina or Arizona.

IC: How often do you hear from North Carolina?

Brad: They write me letters; they send me FedExs most likely every day—three days a week. They called Mom yesterday. They usually talk to Mom anyway.

IC: Who from the North Carolina coaching staff do you hear from?

Brad: Coach Doherty.

IC: What do you think you should look for in a coach? What intangibles are important to you?

Brad: One who makes the team a family.

IC: Who is helping you in making the decision on where to play college ball?

Brad: I'm just doing it by myself. I feel like I'm the one that knows the most. I'm the one being recruited.

IC: What are your interests and hobbies?

Brad: I like playing golf. My dad helps me every once in a while when I tell him I'm really sucking it up. He goes out and gives me a lesson every once in a while. I like playing video games. I just like hanging out. I'm not a huge party guy that goes out and parties all the time. I'm a quiet guy on the weekend. I like just getting rest because that's the only good time of rest. A full five days of school.

IC: Favorite music?

Brad: I like anything. I don't like country that much.

IC: What person do you most look up to in life?

Brad: Probably my dad because of how successful he's been. My mom because of how she's dealt with us the past 17, 18, 19 years. She's a nice lady.

Besides my dad and mom, I'd have to say David Robinson. When I was little I got a fortunate chance to caddy for him because he came out to my Dad's golf course and I caddied for him and he showed me how he respects everybody. He's not one of those guys who's like "You're smaller than I am, so I can do whatever I want." But he's a nice guy.

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