And despite wide speculation to the contrary, that interview did not involve the team's head coach who was safely tucked away with family enjoying the 137th renewal of the Kentucky Derby (sans tie, he reports).
Instead, graduating Irish senior Carleton Scott so impressed onlookers in his New Jersey Nets tryout that the athletic forward decided to forgo his final season of collegiate eligibility and enter the 2011 NBA Draft.
"It was a gradual process but this weekend capped it off for me," Scott said of his decision to remain in the draft pool after submitting his name for consideration three weeks prior. "I told coach, I woke up Sunday morning and laid in bed for awhile. Just thought about the whole process and felt comfortable with this decision."
Scott's decision took most experts and Irish fans by surprise. Prior to knowledge of Saturday's purportedly stellar workout, the San Antonio senior was not likely to be selected in the two-round draft on June 23.
"It is. I'm not going to lie. It's an intimidating process of not knowing," Scott said of his draft status. "But like I said, I had a lot of positive feedback and I got some direction and am willing to take that chance. The feedback really pushed me. Having those guys (notably Nets general manager Billy King) come up to me and say, ‘You really have a chance to make it,'(was key). No guarantees, like coach said, but that feedback gave me a good edge."
Scott feels his name will ultimately be called prior to the draft's conclusion.
"I do anticipate (getting drafted). I'm working my tail off to that end but if that doesn't happen we have to go down a different road," Scott offered. "Coach and I talked about everything. We weighed all the pros and cons – put everything out there on the table, so if (he's not drafted) we'll approach it when it happens."
Natural order of thingsFrom a business point-of-view, Scott's decision seems impetuous at best – head-shaking and misguided at worst.
He was slated to be a team captain again next season; one of four key returning pieces of the six that toiled through 27 wins in 34 games last season; and as his head coach pointed out numerous times and reiterated yesterday, a growing voice in the locker room. Scott would have been mentioned for pre-season all league honors and found a television audience on no fewer than 20 occasions as a 5th-year senior.
Now, he'll either realize his dream of making an NBA roster, play overseas (an option that presents both appealing and miserable scenarios) or in the NBDL, a fledging developmental league that houses those on the fringe of the sport.
Regardless, Scott believes its time to move on in life. And from all accounts, it was a mature, well-informed decision.
"Graduating," he noted of another realization that it might be time to exit college ball. "I've been here for four years and completed my degree (history and computer applications). I graduate in two weeks and that was a big step. I promised my mom I would graduate from Notre Dame. I kept that promise and now I'm ready for the next challenge."
Forthcoming challengesThat "next step" appears to be a pair of workouts with disparate NBA franchises: the elite Miami Heat, and another interview with the struggling New Jersey Nets.
"Billy King told me he was the best player in their workout and he's very intrigued by him," said Irish head coach Mike Brey. "So that's the information you go on. Based on that and thinking about where he is in his life – graduating from college – and ‘a chance' (to be drafted), that decision was made.
Brey was honest in his evaluation of Scott's chances.
"We hashed it all out. I told him, ‘Could you be in France next year instead of on our floor? Could you be on an NBDL floor?' (Both unfortunate consequences of going undrafted).
"I didn't pull any punches, we went through it all. But at the end of the day, you have to be supportive of a young man who's been here for four years (and) been a pretty good ambassador for our program, last time I checked. And is going to graduate from our University in two weeks."
"I talked to Chris Quinn down in San Antonio. He gave me some really good feedback on how the process works. I also had a talk with Laphonso Ellis at his house. He sat me down and hammered me with some tough questions to make sure I was ready to go through with this," Scott said.
Now that his decision is final, Brey and the staff are ready to help him reach his next life's goal.
"As I told him, ‘We go past midnight (the entry deadline), you go into a whole new world and territory. You're a man now. That's where he is now and we'll help him. I think the next thing is to try to get him into pre-draft camp next week. He'll have a couple of individual workouts set up. I think Miami; New Jersey will definitely want to bring him in."
Asked to list a chosen "con" of coming back for a 5th season, Scott denied a single thought to that end.
"There was no negative. This was a safety bubble. Everything here is good. Coming back and getting better in this light would have been a great thing but I just feel like I can try to do this somewhere else. But I'm graduating and willing to take that next step."
Scott averaged 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds as a senior and the Irish finished a sterling 25-5 with him in the starting lineup. He led the squad with 57 blocked shots and seven double-doubles while knocking down a team-best 88.9 percent of his free throw attempts, missing just three foul shots in Big East play.
The senior favored the three-point arc during his final season in South Bend: half of his 257 field goal attempts occurred behind the line where he connected at a 36 percent clip. In a statistical oddity, Scott connected on more than six field goals in a contest just once last season – an 8 for 8 shooting effort in a Christmas-break win over Stony Brook last December.
Scott noted his strengths (according to NBA feedback) as "athleticism, ability to defend, even though I can get better there, and shooting," with constructive criticism received that included "ball-handling and defending on the perimeter."
He has a chance to work on all of the above on a full-time basis.
"Since my mom put the ball in my crib, I always wanted to be an NBA player and just to have that dream one step closer is a great feeling…(also) not having to worry about classes anymore, and just do basketball from sun up to sun down is something I'm willing to do," he later added.
Note: I'll have more on the 2011-12 Irish and head coach Mike Brey's decision to remain in South Bend for Year 12 – and for the foreseeable future – in a column slated for Wednesday afternoon.