Battier | Bradley | Brown | Curry | Diop | Forte | Griffin | Haywood | Murphy | Richardson
Q: Is it funny that everyone talks about upside with all these young guys, like you have reached the level you will be at and won't get any better because you are a senior?
It's the nature of business. The P word means a lot more in today's game, potential. You've got to look at the obvious. At 22 years old, to say that I have peaked and matured and reached my maximum as a basketball player is pretty ridiculous. I think I have a lot of room for development and growth in this game.
Q: Who do you have workouts scheduled with?
I have been to three workouts thus far, with the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies. I have yet to work out for the Clippers, Warriors and the Wizards.
Q: Are you going to go to Cleveland (who is picking) at eight?
We'll see. We have a week before the draft to go to any team that may move up in the draft, or has a need to see me.
Q: What were your impressions of the Chicago Bulls' organization?
I think the Bulls' organization is a very blue-collar organization. It reflects the city of Chicago, which is a blue-collar town. They are very set in their ways, but their way has been very successful in the past. I know everyone in the organization is itching to get back to the glory of years past. It's a great city. You can't beat it in the summertime (laughs). Growing up in Detroit, knowing Midwestern winters, I think I got spoiled by the southern winters of North Carolina. But nothing beats Chicago in summer.
Q: This draft is pretty unpredictable. Do you even try and figure it out?
You can't sit and try to think about it too much. I think this year, more so than any other draft, it's going to be a very unconventional draft. At least on the outside, a lot of unconventional thinking. For me, it's not about numbers, it's about fit. I want to go to a team that I believe I can help immediately, a team where I can receive playing time in my first year, and a team that respects and admires what I can bring to their team.
Q: Are you mentally more suited or prepared than some of these younger players to go to a struggling team?
Yes and no. The last eight years of my basketball career, college and high school, we have lost a combined 30 games. I know I'm probably going to lose more games in one season in the NBA. I realize that. That's just part of the maturation process and taking the next step to the league. I've been a winner at every level I've ever played at, whether it's basketball, baseball or I wrestled for three years. I'm ready to take that attitude to every city I go to. It's a little bit tougher in this league to relay that attitude and that message but I am willing to try.
Q: With some zone defense being allowed in the NBA next year, do you think that will help you since you are a good outside shooter?
I think so. I don't think there is a consensus on how the game will be impacted by zone defense next year. A lot of different theories are floating around. But I feel that because of the zone, there are going to be a lot of 15 to 20 foot jump shots that will be open. That's definitely one of my strengths. I feel I can come in and knock those shots down.
Q: You were a role player when you got to Duke, then later became the star. If you had been the star from the start, would you have considered leaving college early?
It's tough to say. I really enjoyed college. I definitely had a plan of progression for my basketball career at Duke. I knew coming in we had Trajan Langdon
and Roshown McLeod
, and I didn't need to be a star early on. I was able to learn, get comfortable with my game, get comfortable with college life, and every year expand my game. And I think I did that. I tried to add something new to my game every year. By the fourth year, I was very comfortable with who I was as a player and as a person. I felt ready to make that jump to the next level. If it had gone differently, I don't know if I would have been as prepared, mentally and physically.
Q: Does it seem to you that it has evolved that few big guys play in the post anymore, that many of them are jump shooters?
It seems the trend now, especially for taller, lankier guys, is to shoot threes, take guys off the dribble and you don't really see the true old school big man down low with post moves who stays down low and posts up.
Q: What do you think about players coming out younger?
It's an individual choice. You have to do what's right for you. It is a little like the stock market: when your stock is high you have to try and get into the league. For me, I had a pretty good year, I'm close to graduating anyway and probably wouldn't have needed a full year to graduate. Those things all combined I thought it was time for me to try my luck and hopefully thins will work out.
Q: Do you feel that older guys like you and Shane (Battier) and Troy (Murphy) are safer bets to contribute right away?
I think guys like Shane and Troy and myself can come in and contribute right away. Some of the high school players may only be 18 years old and not physically ready, and they are very talented and skilled, but they haven't even played a college season, much less an NBA season. I know my jump from high school to college was a much different game. I can't even imagine going from high school to the NBA. Best of luck to them, but I think guys who spend three or four years in college are definitely more ready for the NBA and to contribute immediately.
Q: What about emotionally, traveling and being away all the time?
That's probably even a bigger part of it than the physical, basketball part of it. You have to be able to live on your own, travel half the year, be in a different city where you don't know anyone, start all over. We've have that experience, starting over in college, making new friends and just dealing with people in the real world in college. I think that experience can only help.
Q: For fans who haven't seen you play, describe the strengths of your game?
I think what sets me apart from most big guys is my ballhandling. I have good feet, and I can handle the ball. I need to get better at posting, back-to-the-basket game. I have to work on my drop step, really stretching out and knowing how big I am, using my size to my advantage.
Q: What went into your decision to come into the NBA Draft now?
My initial plan was to go to college for a year or two. But there's not much education in going to college for a year, so I decided why not go ahead and go to the NBA? I was projected as a top five pick, and not many college players get that opportunity to be a top five pick.
Q: What would it mean to you to end up being the No. 1 overall pick?
It would be great to be the No. 1 pick, but there are a lot of players who weren't the No. 1 pick who were very successful. Michael Jordan was not even the No. 1 pick coming out, and look where he went to in his career. I'm looking for the best fit, not necessarily the No. 1 pick. I'm not looking to be No. 1 and be the highest-paid, I want to go somewhere where I can grow and get under one of the guy's wins who knows the system and hopefully learn from them.
Q: Do you have a preference of where you would like to play?
No, sir. I haven't even done a workout yet. My first workout is here in Chicago and then I go to Atlanta. Hopefully I'll get a feel for some teams then.
Q: You seem to be a very confident guy. Were you always that way as a kid?
Growing up as one of eight siblings is tough. Sometimes if you don't eat fast enough, your older brother will take it. I've always been limited in my life with things I could have or things I could do. Hopefully that will change, but I will still be the same person I am today. I had to babysit my little brother, so I grew up normally. I had to learn a lot of stuff the hard way. I think I'm a very responsible person. My mom used to go out to work, and I had to babysit my little brother, cook for him, clean up the house, wash clothes, do just about anything. I'm the next to the youngest. My little brother is 14 and my oldest brother is 30.
Q: Where did your mother work?
She worked at a Day's Inn. She cleaned up rooms and things like that. We found out that she slipped a disc in her back.
Q: In a couple of weeks, you are going to be a millionaire. What are you going to do?
I've got to take care of Mom. You cannot give your Mom enough. They change your diapers. I'm one of eight kids, and she never bailed on us. She was always there. She didn't have much, but she did the best she could with the little that she did have. My father wasn't there, and she had to be the father and the mother. To me, she's the strongest woman that I know.
Q: Does the fact that Michael Jordan might come back make Washington a more attractive team to play for?
You have to figure if Jordan comes back, we could have a real chance at winning a championship. He's just that good. He's capable of locking players up, he's capable of scoring on anybody. You definitely have to bring that to the table if you are talking about adding Michael Jordan to the mix.
Q: How do you fare in those Chicago pickup games (of NBA players) against NBA guys like Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics). Do you hold your own?
I hold my own, but you find out really early that this is not high school ball. Somebody dunks on you, or goes through one of those stages where they just don't miss a shot, no matter what kind of defense is being played on them. They just don't miss.
Q: Do they (NBA players) go after you harder because you are right out of high school?
I think so, because they want to show me that this is an entirely different level. Everyone wants to come at me extra hard. So I go back at them. I am not the type of player who is going to back down to anybody. I think that will bring out the best in me.
Q: Does it concern you that you might be drafted by a team with a very bad recent record?
It really doesn't. I can just hope that it doesn't remain the same. All I can do is go there, play hard and hope we can have a lot better season that they had been having.
Q: Are there going to be great expectations for you in the NBA?
It's different in the NBA. It's a job. There are expectations in college, but it's different from the NBA.
Q: How long ago did you start to think of yourself as a future NBA player?
Junior year is probably when I really started thinking about it. A lot of guys think about it all their life, about going to the NBA. But I just try to be real about it. I knew that the NBA was the highest level of basketball you can reach. I knew I wasn't ready for that in my junior year, and I didn't know if I would be ready for it my senior year.
Q: What would be your thoughts on joining the Clippers?
I would love to play for the Clippers. I always said they would be my first choice along with Chicago and obviously the Wizards.
Q: Are you excited about going to New York City and maybe doing some sightseeing?
Yes. It would be one of the first times I would be going to New York, other than to work out or something like that.
Q: After only being in this country for a couple of years, you are about to go to the NBA.
I don't know yet. I will keep working hard when I go to a team. I had a feeling I would be in the league, but I didn't think it would be out of high school. But I like working hard and I think I will get better and better.
Q: How much harder are the workouts now?
After I came back from the (fractured left foot) injury, I was running two and a half miles, and it was hard.
Q: What are you going to miss about Mouth of Wilson (Virginia, where Oak Hill is located)?
I will miss the people. People were very nice, my teachers, coaches and teammates. I'm going to miss them.
Q: Is it fair for anyone to criticize high school players when you know you are going to be in the top 10?
I don't think it's fair. You see a lot of tennis players and other players in other sports, who are 13. I was watching TV the other day and there was a girl who was 13 playing (professional) golf. I don't know how people are going to criticize us going to the pros instead of going to college.
Q: Why is it not a gamble to pick you early in the draft?
I think I can block shots, rebound, and I play pretty hard too. I think if I work hard, I can see myself doing well in the league.
Q: Are you more prepared to make a big adjustment to the NBA since you had an adjustment to make coming to the United States?
Coming from Senegal was hard for me. I learned a lot. I'm not saying I'm ready, but you have to know how to handle yourself.
Q: How does your foot injury affect your workouts?
I have been working out two or three times a day. I'm in shape.
Q: Why are you coming out instead of going to college?
I want to help my family and my country. I am going to go to college, though. I want to get my degree.
Q: What is the number one thing you are working on to prepare for the Draft?
Conditioning. I've been out for half a month. I've been working out twice a day.
Q: What is the strength of your game that you will show teams in workouts?
Definitely rebounding and playing defense.
Q: Who have you worked out for so far?
Boston and Vancouver, and I was excited about both of them. It went well, both of them. I'll be working out for Cleveland, New Je rsey, Charlotte and Orlando.
Q: What do you bring to a team?
My skill level, my knowledge of the game and my desire to win. Those three things.
Q: What players in the NBA do you watch and try to learn from?
I watch Allen Iverson
, Ray Allen
, how they score, how they put their bodies into position to score.
Q: Do you think you are more of a shooter than a scorer?
I'd say I was more of a scorer, but I'm becoming more of a shooter through repetition. Hopefully I can have a combination of the two.
Q: You are known as a shooter. What things do you need to work on?
Probably my ballhandling, so I can play both positions, and my strength.
Q: Where do you believe you stack up among shooting guards in this Draft?
Number-wise, credential-wise, nobody has matched me. But that's not what it's about. It's based on potential. So Jason Richardson
would be a shooting guard that would be in front of me.
Q: Do you feel there were benefits to you going to Seton Hall for a year as opposed to just coming out of high school last year?
I think I'm better off coming out this year than last year. Last year, I was only weighing 207. At Seton Hall I gained 20 pounds and that worked to my benefit. If I would have come out last year, I don't think I would have been able to step in and play because I wasn't physically ready and hadn't had that experience of playing against guys who were stronger than me. The coaches at Seton Hall showed me a lot of little things that I should do, things I didn't know. It was big for me this year. I learned a whole lot of stuff. Going to Seton Hall helped me a whole lot.
Q: Do you feel you are a three or a four?
I would say three. I know I am going to work on my ballhandling skills to play the three, that's something I am going to have to do.
Q: What would it mean to be the first overall pick, especially if it's a team that Michael Jordan is playing for?
That would be a great accomplishment. That's something you dream of every day, not just being the first pick but even being drafted by the NBA. It would be a great accomplishment to be first overall, especially because there are a lot of guys older than me in this draft.
Q: What went into your decision to come out after one year of college?
One of the biggest reasons I went to college is that I thought I wasn't physically ready. A lot of people said when I got to college, I wouldn't be able to rebound and block shots like I did in high school. Throughout the year, I was among the leaders in rebounds and blocked shots in college, so I proved I could do it. Hopefully I could carry that over to the next level, too.
Q: Are you ready for the adjustment of playing for a struggling team?
It's something you have to go through. Hopefully I can come in there and help them win some more games. It's just something that you have to go through.
Q: What kind of an impact do you think you can make in your first year?
I think whatever team I go to, I can have a lot of impact. I can do a lot of different things well, blocking shots, rebounding and scoring.
Q: What have you been doing to prepare for the Draft?
I've been working with a strength guy in LA and a strength guy in Philly. I'm trying to work on my body.
Q: How are your neighbors treating you?
They come up to me like, 'I remember you as a kid, and now you are a big star.' A lot of people are excited for me, and it's real nice.
Q: What are some of the things that you learned by playing college basketball?
You learn footwork. You learn how to postup, sit down and get wide in the post. You learn how to set your man up off a pick. These things don't sound big, but these are things you don't learn in high school, because I played in high school and I didn't know them. You learn them in college. I played in a good system, so I learned them.
Q: A lot of pro teams expect you to know those things.
They are going to expect you to know them, or they want to be able to tell you once or twice and then expect you to pick up on them. They are not going to babysit you any more, and it's going to be tough. But those kids have a lot of skill, though, and they wouldn't be thought of so highly if they didn't. So I'm sure in a couple of years they will be pretty good.
Q: Do you feel like you are punished by having stayed four years?
I don't feel like I am being punished. I feel like I am going to have the opportunity to fulfill my dream. I'm going to be an NBA player, hopefully in the top 15. If a kid that they draft on potential is taken ahead of me who is not better than me, so what? Right now is the time for me to start making my dreams.
Q: Talking to scouts, none of them question your athletic ability or your skills on the court. If there is a question, it's about your aggressiveness on the court.
I think that is one of the advantages of college. When I first went to college, I didn't have my best game night in and night out. That's just part of being young. My senior year, for example. If I didn't have the numbers in points, I was bringing it to you in rebounds and blocked shots. I remember my worst game was against Georgia Tech, and I had zero points. I had nine or 10 rebounds, five blocks and four assists. So those things show I was out there busting my butt. I missed my shots, but I was going hard and that's all you can ask of a person to go hard. You are not going to hit your shots all the time.
Q: As the draft approaches, what is going through your mind: anticipation, excitement?
I just want to get it over with. I just want to know where I am going, and then start working out with the team and getting ready for next season. It's tough right now, because you are working out for so many different teams and you don't know what part of the country you are going to be living in.
Q: Who have you worked out for?
I have worked out for the Wizards and Sonics so far.
Q: When you worked out for the Wizards, was Michael Jordan there?
He was there. It was unbelievable with him there. He went through a couple of moves with us, and the way he can move and how quick he is, and everything is really something else.
Q: How do you think you fit in as a pro with your skills?
I think as a guy who can help a team, who can shoot the ball. I can take a small guy inside or a bigger guy outside and utilize my size that way.
Q: You were in LA working out, right?
It was pretty cool, a lot of fun. I've been out there about two months, working out. I went right out there from school. That was set up through my agent, Dan Fegan. We work out at UCLA every day. We play games and then shoot in the gym and work out there.
Q: What are your impressions of Jason Richardson?
He is an unbelievable athlete. He's underrated with his shooting. I think he shoots a lot better than a lot people give him credit for.
Q: What were the individual workouts like?
Seattle's was really difficult. Seattle had a hard workout. We played one-on-one and two-on-two. It was about two hours long. I went to Washington two days later and that was difficult too. They were hard workouts, but you go out there and do your best.
Q: Do you think the rules changes help you?
I think they need guys who can shoot the ball and I can shoot the ball. With the zones, they will spread it out and you will have to make shots. I think that's where I can help a team out.
Q: If you could have your pick of any NBA team, which would it be?
Just a team where I could contribute, a team that is winning, good guys on it, and a nice city. All the NBA teams are in great cities, so I won't have too much of a problem with any of those cities.
Q: Would it be intimidating to play for the Bulls, the team Michael Jordan made famous?
I don't think it would be intimidating. I would just go out there and try to play. It would be great to go to a city like Chicago, and go to where Michael played. If I went to Washington, maybe he could come down on the court and teach me a few things.
Q: What have you been doing since the end of the season?
I've been out in California the past two months. My agent is based in California. It's a group of guys, including me, Troy Murphy
, Gilbert Arenas
, Kenny Satterfield
, and we work out every day. It's great going against those guys every day, competing and getting better.
Q: Do you have workouts scheduled?
I've done Atlanta and I have about six more scheduled. The Bulls, Golden State, Cleveland, New Jersey, Vancouver, Detroit.
Q: How did the Atlanta workout go?
I think it went very well. I think I did a lot of good things, but I could do some thins a little better. I could have played defense a little better, and shot the ball a little bit better. But I think it was a pretty good workout. It was me, Shane (Battier
, Terence Morris
and Maurice Evans
Q: Troy Murphy said that people are going to be surprised at how good a jump shooter you are. What are people going to be surprised at with him and his game?
He's very athletic, and a lot of people said he was not. I could attest to this. We were in an open gym at UCLA and guys like Magic Johnson and Paul Pierce
were there, and a couple of other guys. And I've never seen him like this before. Troy was going to go baseline, and it looked like he was going to go with a lefty hook, but he brought it down to his knees and dunked backwards. I wanted to stop playing! A lot of people in the gym said, 'we didn't know he had it in him.'
Q: (Unheard, pertaining to Jason's mother)
I just want to take care of her. She has taken care of me all my life. She raised six kids on her own without going to school, then she got her bachelor's degree. She showed how much will power she's got, and I'd like to take care of her.
Q: A lot of people say that you are a great athlete who needs to refine his shooting skills. Do you agree with that?
I agree with that. I need to be a more consistent shooter and work on my dribbling skills. I've been working on those things the last couple of months, and my ballhandling has gotten better, but I am the type who is never satisfied with what I do.
Q: Your performance against the Olympic Team changed things for you.
Playing against the Dream Team was a great experience for me. I wanted to let the country know that I was a good player and that I had worked on things over the summer. It helped me during the season and helped me make my decision.