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Interview with Craig Brackins
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com


July 20, 2010

New Orleans rookie power forward Craig Brackins sat down with Hornets.com to provide more detail about his background and discuss his perspective on joining the team. The 6-foot-10, 230-pounder played three seasons at Iowa State before declaring for the 2010 draft. He was the 21st overall pick on draft night, coming to the Hornets as part of a four-player trade.

Like fellow Hornets rookie Quincy Pondexter, Brackins is a native of California. He grew up in Palmdale, located about 60 miles north of the city of Los Angeles.

Hornets.com: One of the things NBA draft analysts mentioned as one of your strengths is that youre a very skilled frontcourt player. There are not many 6-foot-10 power forwards who have the shooting range you do. How did you develop those skills as a young player?
Brackins: I played guard a little bit coming up, some (shooting guard) and (small forward). I always had the ability to shoot the ball. I wasnt really the tallest guy out there when I was young, so I didnt have to play center all the time. I was always on the wing and shooting. As I started growing, my coaches put me down on the block, but I kept the skills of dribbling, trying to get to the basket and shooting jump shots and three-pointers. It kind of helped me to not have one of those early growth spurts and end up getting stuck in the post.

Hornets.com: Did you have coaches who worked a lot with you on your shooting, or was that something you did on your own?
Brackins: I had two coaches who really put an emphasis on shooting and being able to do everything. They said, I dont want you to just limit yourself to being a big. I want you to post up and also be able to shoot (away from the basket). They really put it into my mind to be skilled and be able to handle any situation.



Hornets.com: What aspects of your offensive game are you now working on the most to improve?
Brackins: I think Ive improved on catching the ball 12 or 15 feet from the basket and operating from there. Ive gotten better at being able to handle the ball and do some of the aspects of (playing small forward), but its something I have to incorporate into game situations if I have to, and get more comfortable at (game) speed.

Hornets.com: In several profiles of you from your college career at Iowa State, its mentioned that you are an avid skateboarder. Is that accurate?
Brackins: [smiles] I think they think I carry my skateboard around with me, or that I bring it with me everywhere. That actually stopped probably about three or four years ago, because of basketball. I didnt want to get hurt. At one point, yeah, I did (skateboard). I wasnt really that into basketball at that time. I was from Cali and had a lot of friends that skateboarded. It was something that I picked up and (served as) transportation sometimes. It was just one of those things we did.

Hornets.com: Was there any element from skateboarding that you think might help you as a player, such as footwork?
Brackins: I think it couldve helped me, because its all about balance. Ive always been told I have good footwork I always do well in foot-speed drills and things like that but Im not really sure where that came from.

Hornets.com: As a highly-recruited high school player from California, how did you end up at Iowa State in the Big 12?
Brackins: My AAU coach was an assistant there, so that was what initially made me interested in Iowa State. Also, when I visited there I met some of the other players and that helped. I met (current Minnesota Timberwolves rookie) Wes Johnson and we became friends. The fans were also what sold me on Iowa State they are unbelievable. It was in a great conference. I felt with Wes being there and the pieces that we had, we couldve turned the program around. Unfortunately over the years, different things happened that were unexpected.

The funny thing was, when I narrowed my final decision down to two schools, it ended up being either Iowa State or Washington, so I couldve easily ended up playing with Quincy (Pondexter) in college. Washington heavily recruited me. But the Pac-10 schools were interested in me a lot later than some of the other ones. I think it was because I didnt start playing (organized basketball) until I was a sophomore in high school. I kind of came out of nowhere (in terms of recruiting). A lot of the West Coast schools start (identifying prospects) when kids are in sixth grade.

Hornets.com: You were obviously the focal point of Iowa States offensive attack in college. How much are you looking forward to playing with some of the talented pieces the Hornets have such as Chris Paul and David West?
Brackins: The opportunity I might have is unbelievable. I know Im not going to be the focal point. Not facing double-teams and being wide open is going to be weird and its going to be an adjustment, but something Im looking forward to. Our team wasnt overly talented at Iowa State, even though I felt like we shouldve been, but pieces kept leaving the program for different reasons. (Playing with the Hornets) is basically what I wanted in college. I cant wait.

Hornets.com: Some people questioned your decision to return to college for your junior year at Iowa State, saying that your stock probably wouldnt increase that much by going back to school. I know youve mentioned in the past that you dont regret that choice, but what is your perspective now?
Brackins: (In 2009) I felt like I wasnt ready for the NBA, and I didnt want to be one of those players who comes in and isnt ready. I look at (an NBA career) as a long-term thing. Im trying to be here as long as I can, because I love the game. I dont want it to be a short-time thing, so I wanted to (leave college) when I was ready. This year, I felt I was (ready), and thats why I came out for the draft. I feel like it all worked out for the best, because I ended up in one of the best situations by coming to this team.



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