The Bootleg: You will come in this fall with a couple of strong players to learn
from in Chris Hernandez and Julius Barnes. What do you want to learn or gain
from them, through practices and mentorship?
Jason Haas: Chris and Julius are both terrific guards who I will learn a lot from over the next few years. I am anxious to play with them and against them. I feel that Chris, Julius, and I will be able to be friends off the court, and make each other better on the court. On my visit to Stanford, both Julius and Chris welcomed me warmly and showed me around campus. By just the few days I was there, I could already tell that the team shares a special bond on and off the court. I am sure Chris and Julius will teach me and help me on the court, and show me how to have a good time off the court.
The Bootleg: Being all the way out on the East Coast, have you been able to see much
of Stanford on TV or in person?
Jason Haas: Unfortunately, I have not seen Stanford play very much on TV. One problem is that it is difficult to watch TV at prep school, since our dorm only has one TV in the commons room. The other thing is that when I was home, Stanford was rarely on TV on the local channels. However, my father did record some games, so I have been able to see a couple of games.
The Bootleg: What are your thoughts, from what you
have been able to see, about Stanford's
guard play – as well as overall style of play?
Jason Haas: Like the last question, it was difficult to watch Stanford play this season. One reason I cannot judge the play of the guards is because I did not see them play enough to make accurate judgements. Another reason would be that I really do not know what the coaching staff expected out of their guards this year. Overall, I think the team did a great job of overcoming some adversity in some tough losses, to having a successful season.
The Bootleg: What about that style has appealed to you, and as a more general
question, what made Stanford so attractive to you that you are coming so far
Jason Haas: During the recruiting process my main goal was to find a school that allowed me the opportunity to compete at the highest level of Division I and at the same time provide me with the best academic situation possible, regardless of the distance from home. Whether it was twenty miles from home or across the country, I was going to choose a school that would benefit me the most on the court and in the classroom. I really enjoyed my official visit to Stanford, as everyone made me feel right at home throughout the weekend. Not only was the social life appealing, but after meeting with the coaching staff and all the players, it just seemed like a perfect fit for me. After watching a practice and a scrimmage, I felt that I would make a great fit in the program. I liked the way the practices were run by the coaches, and how the team competed with each other on the court. By going to Stanford, I feel I will have the best long-term opportunity to succeed on and off the court.
The Bootleg: Did you talk during the recruiting process with Rob Little about his
experience this year at Stanford, given that he came from a similar region and
distance to Stanford?
Jason Haas: Ironically, Rob and I played against each other at the Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. I played for a New Jersey team, while he played for a D.C. team. When I watched practice on my visit, I saw Rob and he looked so familiar. After meeting Rob and talking with him a little, it turned out that we did play each other before. On my visit, Rob did talk with me about coming so far from home. He said that it did take some time to get used to because the West Coast life is so much different from the East Coast. However, Rob said that just like every transition, it just takes a little time to get used to. He made me feel comfortable, knowing that I will have a fellow East Coast man out there with me.
The Bootleg: Speaking of the East Coast, what has been your perception of West Coast
and/or Pac-10 basketball? More specifically, do you get any real or joking jabs from
teammates or friends about going to play out West?
Jason Haas: I do not have any perceptions of West Coast or Pac-10 basketball. Basketball is basketball to me. Other than my former high school teammate, Luol Deng, who will most likely be heading to Duke next year, I do not get any joking jabs from anyone else.
The Bootleg: While you have been in high school, Stanford has had a couple of seasons
with a lot of weeks ranked as the #1 team in the country. But then Stanford
picked up more losses this past year and clearly took a step down in achievement
level. Now Curtis Borchardt and Casey Jacobsen have left early to the NBA
draft. How do you personally react to these data points, and how does it make
you feel about the Stanford basketball program you are walking into this fall?
Jason Haas: I knew coming into Stanford this year, that there was a good chance that Casey and Curtis were going to leave early to the NBA. Obviously, it is very difficult to replace a Casey Jacobsen or a Curtis Borchardt, but I am confident in my teammates along with myself, that their early departures will give us more motivation to work harder this summer and fall to be successful this upcoming season. Not only will the guys work harder, but the coaches will put extra time in to make this season one to remember.
The Bootleg: With the recent departures
and Curtis, does that put any pressure on you and your incoming class – for
the freshmen to be ready to give something more?
Jason Haas: Now that Casey and Curtis have unfortunately departed, it will definitely give Dan, Matt, and I added pressure to be ready to contribute on the court this season. However, I think it will not only make us step up, but the rest of the guys take it up another level. By working hard in the summer and fall, we will become a well-meshed team, ready to take on the challenges that this season will present us. Their departure is an opportunity for the guys to work hard to see who will become the next Casey Jacobsen, Curtis Borchardt, Jason or Jarron Collins, or the next Brevin Knight.
The Bootleg: What is your own personal take on early NBA departures? And with specific
context of Stanford as the college someone leaves for the NBA, what would you
have recommended to Casey and Curtis right now?
Jason Haas: Well obviously, Casey and Curtis have already departed to the NBA. I have mixed emotions on players leaving college early for the NBA. On one side of the issue I feel that if a player is ready to play in the NBA, or is considered to be a lottery pick, then it is his choice to leave prematurely or not. However, on the other side of the issue, I feel that players should stay in college as long as they can until they feel they are ready for the next step in their basketball career. Mistakes are made when players leave for the NBA early when they are not ready for that level of play yet. This hurts their college team's success, their potential basketball future, and their career in life after basketball. Their decision to depart early must consider all of these issues.
The Bootleg: Your class has interesting parallels with this past freshmen class. A
post, wing, and a point guard. Two better known guys on the West Coast, and
one guy from the Northeast. In the case of Rob Little, he came in this past year
and played to prove himself, with Stanford fans so familar and high on Chris and
Josh. He's still working in the off-season with that chip on his shoulder. Now
you come with a mystery unknown label to a lot of Stanford fans out West, in a
class where Dan and Matt have garnered a lot of attention. Do you feel like you
are coming in as the underdog of sorts in this class, and does that put a chip
on you shoulder at all?
Jason Haas: Yeah, from what I have read, I am certainly considered by the Stanford fans as the incoming freshmen class underdog in terms of attention and expectations. Does this put a chip on my shoulder? No. I play the game because I love the game, not for the attention. As far as expectations go, I expect to become the best player I can be and help Stanford win basketball games. I plan on continuing to work hard each day doing all the things necessary to be the best player I can be. I'll know at the end of each day that I gave it my all. And then I'll know I can feel good about whatever level of play I am able to attain in the coming years. I can't control the fans' expectations, but I hope I am able to exceed them.
Do I have a chip on my shoulder? Yes. I have had a chip on my shoulder since I got cut from my seventh grade basketball team. And thankfully I got cut. It put a permanent chip on my shoulder. It made me work even more on my game. It taught me the strong work ethic that I have today. It taught me that success can happen with hard work. It taught me to keep working harder and to never give up. The chip on my shoulder is a good thing because it provides me the added motivation to constantly prove people wrong. And to channel those feelings into positive thoughts and actions to become the best basketball player I can be.
The Bootleg: What is the latest on July? Are you and/or the three of you in this class
indeed making a trip to Stanford for some time then with the guys on the team?
Jason Haas: Yes, I do plan on being out at Stanford for approximately three weeks in July. I am looking forward to working out with the team, and getting to know the guys and the coaches better. More importantly, I am looking forward to learning things that I need to work on, so I can continue to improve to be ready for this season.