What does it mean to play in the Hoop Summit and against the World team?
It means a lot, you know the world team is trying to make their name off of this game. There’ve been a lot of good players like Dirk Nowitzki, Serge Ibaka, Dante Exum that have come through playing for the world team and had successful careers so far. They’ve been playing well and are coming to make a name for themselves.
How comfortable are you playing with your U.S. teammates?
Yeah, about half the team I played with this summer on the U18 team and then the other half of the guys played on the U17 team so it’s basically like trying to mesh two teams.
How has your experience been over the last two weeks? First Chicago, then New York, and now Portland.
It’s been tiring, but it’s been cool. You get used to it, the travelling. I’m just trying to prepare myself for two years from now when I’m in playing probably in the NBA or however many years from now. It’s just good preparation and good practice for that type of stuff. It definitely takes a toll on your body and I’m learning that I have to take care of my body a little better.
Are you planning on narrowing your schools at any point in the future?
Yeah, around these next one or two or maybe three weeks I’ll probably be narrowing it down based on the best decision for me. I’ve got about eight schools I’m looking at right now and this week and next week I’ll be probably be praying a lot and thinking about what I don’t want and what I do.
Will you conduct any more in-home visits?
Yeah, we’ll see. If I want an in-home visit I’ll reach out, but if it’s not necessary than I won’t.
What parts of your game do you want to improve on?
That’s a long list of things. I could start naming stuff but then we’ll be here all day. It’s a lot of things I want to work on.
What about this summer? With a few more months before college what are your goals?
I’m really excited about this summer. I’m really looking forward to it. Like I said I’ve got a lot of things I know I have to work on. I’m going to get in the gym as much as possible and get as much therapy as possible and make sure my body is 100 percent healthy to make sure I am ready to go for college. It’s a big opportunity to play in front of a lot of people and I’m just going to try to take advantage of it.
Let’s go back to last summer. You made a big jump going into your senior year and are now considered one of the top prospects. What was your mindset the last year?
Really, last summer was a big summer for me as well. I didn’t really go to as many AAU tournaments and things like that. I just worked on my game and worked on my body. That was better for me than playing 1,000 or however many AAU games that you play nowadays. I just went to three tournaments. In those three tournaments I displayed what I could do in those three tournaments and I had the opportunity to turn some heads. I was just working on my game and working on my body; I wasn’t focused on playing as many games as possible but I just used the games I played and took advantage of the opportunity.
You had good shooting numbers in those tournaments. Are you still working on this area?
Yeah, absolutely, that’s the area I’m trying to develop the most right now. I feel like if my shot is on I really can’t be stopped. I can get to the basket anytime I want and can shoot really well and it’s the second piece I’m adding to my game as I’m developing as I get older. I’m working on my form getting up a lot of shots every day. Definitely my shot is something I’m working on and it’s a work in progress.
Over the last two weeks, a lot of NBA scouts have watched you play. Does anything change when it goes from college coaches to NBA scouts?
No, basketball is basketball. I don’t care who is watching. Same thing I don’t try to focus on who is watching I just try to play the game the same way every time. It’s a blessing to be on the court. I try not to pay attention to the rankings and the hype because once you start paying attention to that is when your start diminishing and your game starts going backwards. I’m trying to go forwards and be positive.
UNC is one of the schools recruiting you. What has their main pitch been throughout the recruitment?
Probably about the same as everybody else. Coach Roy Williams, great coach, humble guy, been around a long time. UNC has a lot of tradition. Coach Roy talked to me about that. He said they do things a different way at UNC. Like everybody comes back and they mentor the young guys and prepare them so it’s a family like environment. I felt that when I was there. I honestly did. I could see why there is something at UNC that is so special.
Are you close with anyone on the current roster? I know a lot of them played on the Nike circuit while you played on the Adidas.
Yeah, Theo. Theo is my guy. I’ve known him for a few years. Played with him at camps a few times. Joel Berry I know as well. They both played on the Nike circuit, but I know those two guys well.
This week, J.P. Tokoto announced that he was going pro. Does this factor into your decision and what were you thinking about the small forward spot even before this was announced?
Well even if Tokoto had stayed I feel that I could find my way to get on the floor. Tokoto definitely opened some things up being at the small forward spot and the position I would play at UNC. It’s something I looked at and I wish him the best for his future.
UNC has a lot of returning players and could make a run at the championship next year. Has this been a selling point from the coaching staff?
Yeah, absolutely. UNC definitely has the pieces with everybody coming back next year. I think they lost in the Sweet 16 to Wisconsin so they are definitely coming back better, stronger for next year. The people are more experienced, so that’s something I could walk into. To have people to lead me, mentor me, and give me some more experience since I haven’t played in that experience like they have.
Have there been any one and done conversations or is it just based on how you develop?
Yeah, as I develop. Roy doesn’t really talk to me about if I want to be one or done or whatever. He’s good with whatever I want to do.
There has been some talk about a California package with some combination of Ivan Rabb, Caleb Swanigan, and yourself. Have you talked to them about that at all?
I don’t think it will happen. It sounds nice, but everyone has to make their own decisions. Caleb is down to I think three or four schools. Michigan State is one. You almost have to be selfish at this point and do what’s best for yourself.
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