Interview with Aldridge's asst. coaches

In the fourth of a five-part, week-long feature on sophomore Carolina target Lamarcus Aldridge, IC's David Thompson sits down with the assistant coaches at Seagoville High. Stay tuned for the final installment tomorrow - video clips.

Inside Carolina's David Thompson conducted the following interview with Charles Brooks and Wendell Thornton, assistant coaches at Dallas (TX) Seagoville.

Inside Carolina: What is the biggest improvement you've seen in Lamarcus' game?

Assistant Coach Charles Brooks: I think he's been able to run the floor a lot better than he was as a freshman. I think also the confidence level for him has been tremendous.

Wendell Thornton

Assistant Coach Wendell Thornton: His biggest improvement is his strength. He's getting very strong inside. His freshman year he was very weak and they were pushing him around a lot. This year he played with a lot of poise and he's a lot stronger.

IC: What highlights can you tell us about Lamarcus from this basketball season just ended?

Thornton: The second time that we played against Dallas Lincoln, when he scored 27 points and, I think, ten blocked shots. And he held Chris Bosh to 15 points – that was one of the best games I've ever seen Lamarcus play. He was Player of the Week also on that [Dallas Morning News].

IC: He went up against Chris twice last year? How did he do the first time?

Thornton: Yes, he did. The first time, we were a little nervous because of the ranking that Dallas Lincoln had. We didn't play as comfortable. We didn't get the ball to Lamarcus like we needed to get it to him. That hurt us a lot. So that was one of the main reasons that we suffered that first loss.

IC: If there is a game that shouldn't be missed in your schedule next year, what game would that be?

Thornton: Against Dallas Kimball and Dallas Lincoln. All the games in that district are going to be real strong. Having a new district this year with Kimball and Lincoln, South Oak Cliff, Roosevelt – all those teams that made the [state] playoffs, at least went one or two rounds in the playoff – so I think the whole district is going to be very competitive. It's going to be like state playoff game every night.

IC: What position does Lamarcus project to play several years from now?

Thornton: I could see him at small forward. Either a "3" or a "4." He's developing an outside shot – tremendously, leaps and bounds on the outside shot. So he can step out. He can also play inside. But the "4" would be a good position for him.

IC: What do you think his greatest strength is?

Brooks: Well, for Lamarcus, everybody has their weak points, but for a kid at his age level, I don't think he has very many weaknesses. He rebounds well for us. He runs the floor well. He's very coordinated, especially for kid who's 6-10, 6-11. He's got very good coordination. He's very agile for his size.

IC: What would you like to see him work on the most?

Brooks: I think Lamarcus could improve in creating spacing for himself once he gets the ball, being able to create a little spacing for himself to actually be able to go up strong. And I think that's going to happen when he gets a little bit more strength, a little bit more muscle-building probably. Right now he doesn't create spacing as good as he possibly could, but he's not bad. He has pretty good footwork for a big kid.

IC: What else does he bring, intangibles, leadership, those kind of things?

Brooks: Lamarcus has good leadership skills. Like in practice, he's always one of the more vocal guys when the kids are not maybe on the same page or making mistakes, he'll help correct them and say something to them. He's got real good leadership skills.

IC: In Seagoville's offensive strategy, where do you utilize Lamarcus?

Thornton: It's a team that he has to be in the middle. We fall off from 6-10 to 6-4, 6-5, so definitely he's going to have to play in the middle a whole lot. We see him coming out every now and then to the wing, but mostly he's going to be in the paint.

IC: Tell me about Lamarcus' defense.

Brooks: I probably work more with defense, with the big kids. I can't really tell you we play Lamarcus any particular way because we mainly are a trapping team so we just kind of try to get Lamarcus to the spots he needs to be in on his traps. And also, we're going to try to get him to where he needs to be when the ball is rotated.

IC: What makes Lamarcus stand out when you first see him?

Brooks: [laughing] Besides his height? Probably his coordination. Like I said, for a big kid, he's very coordinated really. You would think a kid being his size would be clumsy but Lamarcus is really coordinated. He's really agile. I think that's the first thing you notice about him as he's running up and down the floor is how agile he is.

Thornton: The way he gets open inside. He's a good shot blocker. He also plays with a lot of confidence. It's grown since his ninth grade year.

IC: And what do you think his shooting range is?

Brooks: Probably anywhere from 15-20 feet out. We don't really want him on the wing, necessarily, in the corners, shooting although Lamarcus can. He can shoot the three, really. He's got nice form. But we prefer him being close and we want him dunking the ball every chance he gets.

IC: He was shooting from the paint almost exclusively this year. Will that be typical next year also?

Brooks: Yes, that will be typical for next year. We want to get Lamarcus the ball as close to the basket as we can, preferably from block to block, from the free throw line on in to the paint. We really don't want him outside the paint at all. Of course he can step out and do that but those are things we really don't want him. We want him to be in close. We want him to dunk every chance he gets because we think that that demoralizes the teams we play and that's going to get him a little more respect and get some easier shots as the game goes on. People are going to shy away from him because he's being aggressive going to that basket.

IC: What can you tell us about how Lamarcus feels about North Carolina?

Brooks: I think that if Lamarcus could decide this very day, he'd be going to North Carolina. Now, a couple of years from now, I don't know but right now Lamarcus really likes North Carolina. If he could make that decision right now, that's where he'd be going.

IC: How do you feel about how North Carolina is handling his recruitment?

Thornton: They're handling it like a class act. They're doing the right thing, talking to us, as far as the coaches. It's not like they're recruiting him, because he wants to go to North Carolina. He's made that his school of choice from day one.

He told us one day, "I want to be a Tar Heel." And, all of a sudden, North Carolina is here.

That's the school he wants to go to and he's very confident that's where he wants to go to play basketball.

IC: Who's been showing attention to him besides North Carolina?

Brooks: Kentucky shows a lot of interest. I don't know how much stuff Coach Allen gets but I know I, myself, get a lot of letters and materials and articles, stuff like that. They send me postcards and articles of their games that they're playing. I get a lot of stuff from one of the assistant coaches and from Tubby Smith.

IC: Project out a few years. What do you see as Lamarcus' potential?

Brooks: I can see Lamarcus playing in the league, in the NBA, in a couple of years. I think he's that good. Whether or not he'll be ready, I don't say he'll necessarily be ready in a couple of years, but I think in 3 – 4 years, he'll be ready.

IC: Is there someone you can compare Lamarcus to in college or the pros to let us know more about his game?

Brooks: I'd have to think about that one. I really couldn't say. Well, maybe the kid from Kansas maybe, Gooden. He's got a game something like that. I think Gooden is a pretty agile kid for his size and he runs the floor real well. He can shoot outside and kind of handle the ball decently. Lamarcus probably fits in that category because Lamarcus gets up and down the floor real well. He's got a nice little shot from outside even though we don't want him shooting that.

He's not a bad ball handler. We've had times and teams that we've played that Lamarcus has actually brought the ball up the court so he's pretty versatile. So I'd probably say, maybe Gooden.

IC: Anything else we should know about Lamarcus that will help us understand him and game?

Thornton: Well, he's a very mannered kid. "Yes sir, no ma'am…"

He doesn't let the publicity get to his head. He's a real calm kid. He's very poised at his age. He's going to be a good one! He's handling [all this] very well. I've never heard him really boast and brag about what he's doing, where he's going. He's very calm. He always supports the team.

He had an opportunity to travel with an All-Star team this past weekend and he traveled with the team [Seagoville HS] just to play in an out-of-town tournament. He stayed with the team instead of going with All-Stars. That shows what type of player he is for our program. He's very dedicated to Seagoville High School and, now-a-days, you know young kids like to play for these different elite teams. He chose to play with his high school team instead of going and playing with an elite team.

We went to Port Arthur and played in a recreational tournament and he chose to play in a recreational tournament rather than play in that elite tournament.

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