Marshall: 'It's A Dream Come True'

ARLINGTON, Va. --- In front of local media, teammates, friends and family on Wednesday, Kendall Marshall announced: "I'll be going to play college ball at the University of North Carolina." Afterwards, IC talked with Kendall, his father and his head coach ...

KENDALL MARSHALL

Why did you choose North Carolina?

"I chose North Carolina because it was always the dream school of mine to go to. Growing up I was always a fan. Watching point guards Ed Cota, Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson. I wanted to be that guy on that team – to be the leader of the program. And the coaching staff was a great part of it. Coach Roy Williams, I feel like I can trust him and he told me he felt like he can put his trust in me."

Did Coach Williams mention that you're the youngest commitment he's ever taken at North Carolina?

"He talked about it, but it wasn't that big of a deal to him. As far as on and off the court, he said he saw the leadership qualities and I don't think age is most important on the basketball court."

What about your visit to Chapel Hill earlier this month sealed the deal?

"You always want to be somewhere where you feel wanted and you feel loved. And that's what I felt at North Carolina. They treated me first class, they let me know right off the bat that they wanted to offer me a scholarship and that set the tone for the whole weekend. Going to the football game, talking to the coaches, it just opened my eyes to the fact that this is the place that I want to be."

Did the players on the team make you feel like a peer?

"Definitely. The whole weekend they were there with me. ‘Kendall, you need anything?' ‘Anything you want to do?' They were very helpful and helped a lot with my decision – Ty Lawson, Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard."

How much of a role did Marcus Ginyard play in you wanting to go to UNC?

"It was a big impact in my decision. He played a big role in my life with basketball and off the court – just making me a better person. I look to him as being a mentor, an older brother. We went to the same 8th grade school and he went to O'Connell – he's always there for me."

What will be your focus now these next three years since the recruiting process is over?

"I'm happy this process is over and now I can concentrate on continuing to excel in the classroom as well as on the court winning some championships with my teammates – three state championships are coming! - and just continue to get better every day."

After you had that impressive performance at the Peach Jam in July, did you realize your recruitment was about to speed up?

"Definitely. When you look out into the stands and see Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Coach Leitao, just to name a few, you know it's a big-time game. And you've got Samardo Samuels, Dexter Strickland and so many other great players on the court. For me to go out and perform well I knew was a special time for me and a breakthrough point in my career."

How often will you be visiting Chapel Hill this year?

"Very often. (Coach Wootten interrupted: "We have a few practices and games in between"). [Laughs] I do plan on going there a lot and getting comfortable."

You think you'll get anxious waiting these next three years?

"All the time. I get butterflies just thinking about it. I'm excited, but I know I've got things to handle in high school first."

How interested were you in other schools, particularly nearby Georgetown?

"I really did like Georgetown a lot. Coach Thompson was very down to earth and a coach that I could see myself playing for. Before Carolina offered me a scholarship, I was very interested – and even afterwards – but Carolina I thought was the perfect fit."

What do you envision it will be like playing at North Carolina?

"I know it's going to be hectic. The ACC is the best basketball conference in America and it's a dream come true [to play in it.]"

DENNIS MARSHALL

How long have you known your son wanted to go to UNC?

"We've known for some time where he wanted to go. It was just a matter of whether he'd be good enough to go. After we started getting interest and going on visits, the Carolina staff by far was head and shoulders above everyone else as far as the way they recruited him, the time they spent with us. Carolina was represented at just about every event he played at all summer. Then we went on a visit for a couple days and we didn't just spend time with the assistants. We were with all four coaches at all times. They showed a lot of class and showed that they really wanted him. We just felt at this point in time, if you work for so long for something and it's there for you, there's no need to wait for it. So that's why he made his decision."

Kendall's mother, Kim, added …

Kim Marshall: "I think Kendall decided when he was about five years old that he wanted to go to North Carolina. His room's been Carolina Blue since forever. So it was just a matter of whether Carolina wanted him."

At what point did Kendall start to receive recognition on a national level?

"When he was 11-12 years old he was on a team that won two national championships. And being a point guard on a team that does that you get a lot of recognition. Then coming here to O'Connell that helped out a lot. Then playing for Boo [Williams Summer League AAU team] was the kicker. Starting as a freshman on the Boo 17-under team – they've never had that happen before. It was the first time Boo has ever started a freshman."

How did Kendall develop his unique style of play?

"When you're not the biggest, fastest or most athletic guy out there, then you have to learn the game. He worked so hard. I didn't teach him all that stuff – it came natural to him."

At what point did you know he was going to commit?

"He texted me during the football game and said ‘Dad, this is my home, this is where I want to be.' Roy Williams was so down to earth and he's so genuine. That made it easy."

O'CONNELL COACH JOE WOOTTEN

What makes Kendall so special that UNC would take a commitment from him before he plays his sophomore season?

"He's obviously an excellent student, with over a 3.0. He'll be the first sophomore that's ever committed this early to Coach Williams at North Carolina. It's obviously a very early commitment and they see a lot of promise in him. We've got a good three years ahead of us. We're looking forward to his great high school career – committing now will help him focus on that. He's worked very, very hard. He's done a tremendous job both on and off the court."

What stands out about his on-court skills?

"As a player he's very savvy, has a great feel for the game. Loves to pass the basketball and can really shoot it. The thing I've been impressed with is that even since last season he's gotten quicker with the ball and has really made that a strength of his game."

What do you think North Carolina liked most about him?

"Coach Williams actually called this morning and he said that he was very excited about Kendall as a player, but more excited about his character. That says a lot about the values his family has instilled in him."

Kendall is already so mature for a player and person his age. When did you start to see him shine here?

"He started his first game as a varsity player here at O'Connell. Through the first couple weeks he was still getting his feet wet, but by about Christmas time he hit his stride and January and February he stepped up and was consistently hitting shots and dished the ball. In our biggest wins last year, he played really, really well. I'm looking for a great year from him."

As good as he was for you last season, it seemed he was even better this summer …

"I thought he showed great improvement [this summer]. And he wasn't satisfied with what he did last year. He showed great improvement from April until now. Coach Williams spoke specifically about how well he played at the Peach Jam – said he was fantastic. Coach Williams said he saw him play 10 times this summer."

How do you think Marcus Ginyard impacted Kendall's decision?

"Kendall watched Marcus played and there's a personal connection there, too, that certainly didn't hurt in him wanting to go to Carolina. Marcus has been a tremendous man on and off the court at Carolina as he was here."

What are Kendall's best on-court assets?

"Kendall's very much a student of the game. When Marcus was here playing you could always see him in the background watching. Kendall's a great shooter, great feel for the game, but his greatest asset is his IQ. There's no wasted dribble – he's very efficient as a player. But his IQ is his greatest asset. He's a coach on the floor."

What does he need to continue to improve on to prepare the next three years?

"I'd love to continue to see him get better. I'm a big believer that there are two types of quickness – natural speed and quickness with the ball. He has quickness with the ball. And he'll continue to improve on that. And I think the biggest change this year has been his added strength and size. He's mature mentally, but physically he's still growing into his body."

To what extent do you see the UNC staff playing a role in Kendall's development these next three years?

"They'll check in. Joe Holladay and Roy Williams will check in to see how he's doing. Roy's coming up on Tuesday to check up with him and watch him play. He told Kendall today on the phone ‘We're going to still see you, but now it's fun because you're part of the family.' I'm sure they'll shift to probably give him pieces of advice to work on this or that, which I think is a benefit. Any time they can input their methods is great and helpful on my end, too."

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