I'm just looking into the next phase of my career, trying to maybe see if coaching is something I want to do. Obviously from playing the last 30 years, I feel like I have a real knowledge of basketball. I'm trying to see if I can transition that from playing into trying to help kids improve and obviously try to win games at the same time.
[The NBPA Camp] has been a great experience because I have learned so much in even just two days from Brendan Sherry, a guy that has almost 40 years of basketball under his belt. He's here teaching us what it takes to be an assistant coach. I think the head coach is like the CEO that sort of runs everything. The assistant coach is the guy who takes some of the burden off of him, and we are learning how to do that.
At the same time we are getting the opportunity to kind of rub elbows with some of these young kids who will be the future of college basketball and the future of our league. It is exciting to be able to share with them and it has been great. They are like sponges right now, they just want to soak up everything they can and hopefully with the things I've done and experienced over the last 15 years as a pro I can share it with them and help them.
What do you try to tell them?
You tell them how hard it is. You don't want to discourage them, but it takes a work ethic. Everybody is talented. Everybody here can jump up and dunk a basketball and they have an unbelievable body. It's even going to be more so that way when you get to college. Everybody is going to be like at this camp. How are you going to separate yourself? The only way to separate yourself is by coming in, working on your game, taking everything that you can from here—the NBA professional with the [fewest] years here has probably eight years—you have guys with eight or more years of experience here.
Use us to try to learn as much as you can to try to get to the level you want to attain. They are doing that. They challenge you. Every time you turn around, I have somebody wanting to take me one-on-one, beat me one-on-one. That's part of it. I think at the same stage I was doing the same thing because that's the only way you can really test yourself is by going against better players, and I'm glad they still consider me a better player.
Did you go to a camp like this coming up through the ranks?
Yeah, I went to Nike Camp. Nike Camp had the top players in the country. They used to do it in Indiana, and it was a great experience. I came out of the camp #1 or #2 player in a lot of publications so it gave me a lot of confidence. I felt like you had the top talent in the country and then you have some of these publications and basketball gurus saying that you are the top player out of that. You just ride that momentum and ride that confidence. You have to look at it, number one I was fortunate to be considered in the top five in everybody's (rankings).
You have to use it as motivation if you are #30. 'I'm a top 30 player in the country.' You use all of this stuff for confidence. Basketball is all about confidence. There is nothing like seeing the ball go through the hoop. I think when you [face] players from all across the country and you show you can compete with them, you show, 'OK, now the only think I have to do is stay on the right course and continue to work hard and get better, and I think you have a chance to put on an NBA uniform one day.
You have had various coaches, various mentors coming up through high school, college, and now a professional career. What is it like for you now to give back to these kids who are hoping to be where you are someday?
I mean, it feels good, but at the same time getting out of the players shoes and getting into the coaching shoes is totally different. It's like I didn't realize—we had a workshop today where we went over the scouting report. I have taken the walk-throughs and scouting reports for granted for 20 years, and now that I had to do one today I realize how hard it is to remember the play and know where everybody has to be, but it was a great experience. Once I did it, I felt like I could do it again. Those are things that you just don't realize until you start doing it.
As far as the kids go, just sharing with them. They are inquisitive, they want to know what it took to get to this level. Everybody is a little standoffish the first day, but after that it is just like they are my little brothers and I am their big brother. They are coming up and joking at me, making fun at me and everything else so that's a good thing.
What is it like for you being back in ACC country in Charlottesville? I'm sure you have some fond memories. You never got to play in this venue, but to be back in Charlottesville.
It's nice. We played at the other building (University Hall), but this was the only other place I visited was UVa.—that I took an official visit to—and I almost came here. But I went down to visit North Carolina, I just couldn't tell Dean Smith 'No,' so that's why I'm in North Carolina, but if I had come here after I went to North Carolina it might have been a different story. I loved it. Obviously, I was here for my last year of high school in Virginia, so I kind of have some Virginia ties. When you compare Carolina Inn and The Boar's Head Inn there is really no comparison.
What do you think about [John Paul Jones Arena]? I know you guys have a pretty good one down in Chapel Hill. The practice facility and everything here, what are your thoughts on John Paul Jones Arena?
They are in the lead right now, but we've got about an $8 million renovation going on so we are going to catch up really fast. Like you said, it's state of the art and that's what you have to do. All the schools now have these auxiliary gyms and stuff. That's an attraction and kids, recruits that come, they want to see that. I think they have first-class facilities here and that's part of being in the ACC.