You definitely learn something new every time out--your strengths, your weaknesses, what you can get away with on the court, what you can't, and you learn how to play with mental fatigue.
Tell me something unique that you have gained from this camp.
What I like about this camp is when you get a lot of great players together, usually there is a lot of selfish basketball. But at this camp, people play as a team, and it made me realize that you don't always have to do it on your own, especially as a point guard. You are going to have scorers on your team when you are playing at the highest level. Your main job is to get everybody else going and then get yourself going.
It seems obvious that basketball players have to learn how to play AGAINST other good basketball players. Something you just touched on is that you also have to learn to play WITH other good players.
Definitely. When you are coming from the high school season, most of us on our team is 'the man,' averaging 20, 25, 30 points per game. When you come here, everybody on one team is averaging 20, 25, 30 points, you are not going to score 150 points in a game. You have to learn how to mesh and everybody has to take a step down and know their role on the team.
Similar to the NBPA Camp you come to this camp and you don't know who is going to be on your team. I'm sure you know some of the guys, but you will be on a team who hasn't played together as a unit before. What is it like at the camps where every one is a new situation?
After a while you start seeing the same people over and over and over again, so it's fun. You come out and compete. You are out here to get better playing against the best.
Another guy who is here who is also committed to Carolina is John Henson. You played against him here. What are your impressions of him?
(Grinning) He's a very good player. He amazed me with some moves that he made. He's very long, athletic, can block shots. He's very good.
If you were giving a scouting report on him, what would you say?
You definitely want to try to get physical with him to disrupt his length. Attack him hard, make him help off to make it easier on our big men because I know our big men wasted a lot of energy trying to guard him because he is a hand-full. When he has the ball, you just want to bump him, dig down on him and make him make plays for others.
He said you all played together on a Reebok team last year. How much do you know each other on a personal level?
At that camp, and after leaving, I'm sure we didn't think twice about each other because at that time we were kind of 'nobody's. Carolina wasn't even in our minds, wasn't even recruiting us at all. But coming into this camp we kind of get that stuff back from Reebok, and we are both a lot better now, which is good.
Another guy that is here who Carolina is keeping an eye on is Roscoe Smith. He said that you have kind of been in his ear a little bit. Tell me about that relationship.
I have definitely been in his ear. Playing against him today, he is very good off the dribble. He can shoot the lights out of the ball and rebounds well for a two-three. I hope we can get him down there.
Having gone through the recruiting process yourself, you know that you had to make the decision that was best for you. I'm sure you respect that aspect of his recruitment, but are you offering any selling points to join you at Carolina?
I just tell him about the tradition of Carolina. There is nothing like Carolina Basketball. I know he wants to be a part of something great, and to me, Carolina is the greatest program in the country.
The media members who cover these events get to watch you guys on the court a lot, but we really don't see anything that goes on behind the scenes. What goes on when you don't have some place that you have to be, playing a game, working on drills, or attending some sort of instruction?
It's funny. Coming into the summer you have a lot of top names, kids going to camp to play basketball. You forget that you are all kids. Off the court everybody is really cool, kickin' it in the hotels and just chillin'. When you get together and you have that camaraderie, even when we come from different places around the nation, it's nice to see how we all fit in.
Are there any humorous stories you can share that won't get you into any trouble with anyone for telling?
There are a lot of imitations. Like, a kid from New York will imitate a kid from Texas, trying to talk in their slang. It's funny because everybody's pronunciations and the way they speak is a lot different. When you get guys trying to clown each other it's funny.
Basketball is something you do, not who you are, but it takes up a LOT of your time. If you do something all the time it can lose some of its freshness. How do you balance basketball such that it doesn't wear you out both physically and mentally?
You know, that's tough because you really only get a two-week break between the high school season and the AAU season--for some kids it's closer to a month. Still, that's 11 months out of the year when you are playing basketball. Sometimes it can be mentally draining on you. Physically, sometimes you have to take off a couple of days. What keeps you going is your love for the game and knowing that you want to get to that next level.
Are you able to take any time off? Do you sit out of any events?
The month of July is hectic. You don't get much time off. In the month off August you are getting ready for school so you want to get a two-week break and shut down after the first week of August. In June you have a few AAU tournament, but other than that you want to be home relaxing. You don't want to do too much too early, and you want to take some time off in the end.
Are you still going to Peach Jam?
Yes. Actually, we leave on Thursday or Friday, so we will get a two-day break after this and then I'm leaving.
I know nationals are coming up. Is there anything else after that?
AAU? No, that's the end, but for school we have a trip to Europe in August and there is the NCAA first team, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to head to that unless I'm lucky enough to go to Global. It's at the same time.
Tell me about the European trip.
It's just something my coach put together. He thought it would be good for us to get that experience since almost the whole team has never been to Europe. I think August 15th we are going to head to Rome and two other places on a week and a half day trip.
What kind of teams will you play against?
I think we will be playing against older guys. Honestly, I don't know [for sure], but it think it will be 20- 30-year olds.
That sounds like a great opportunity for cultural learning too that not every high school kid is going to have.
Definitely. Another thing that I think will help our team out a lot is having the camaraderie together, being around each other for that long. We may get tired of each other every once in a while, but when we are winding down a season, being around each other, we will remember that time and think 'This guy was there for me. We spent this time together.' Let's go out there and win it together.