Summer School: Khris Middleton on Getting Comfortable

On the court and off, Middleton finding his comfort level

Khris Middleton is getting comfortable in his new surroundings.
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images
It’s starting to feel like home. I just finished getting all my furniture, my bed, everything into my new place last week. My parents are coming to visit me shortly from their home in South Carolina. My sister, Brittney, who is 24, came up with me the first time I came to Detroit. She’s about to start a new life, too, moving to Los Angeles and getting into the concierge service business.

I’m starting to get adjusted on the basketball court, too. I’ve been learning a lot from coach Frank. Before the vets get in during the mornings, coach Frank takes all the rooks out on the court and teaches us defensive schemes. Those teaching sessions have really helped me. We started playing pickup games last week and those sessions with coach Frank have really helped me feel more comfortable out on the court. I’m seeing the things he’s talking about and I’m applying them to when we’re out there.

Now I’m able to play in the flow of the game. It’s helping me on the defensive end, but it’s really helping me on the offensive end as well. I think there’s a direct relationship. Instead of thinking about the game, now when I’m out there I’m more or less just playing the game instead of worrying and wondering where I should be or thinking about the last play. In order to play in this league, I’m going to have to be able to guard somebody and play team defense.

I think it was affecting me at first. I wasn’t really sure where to be. Now I’m able to pick my spots, run the floor and be able to play my game in the open floor.

I was able to take a trip back to Texas, to my school, Texas A&M, two weekends ago for our first SEC football game. Unfortunately, they lost, but it was a great game and they almost pulled it out against Florida. I’m very proud of that school and that team. I think all their sports have a bright future. Everybody was very excited for the game. The football stadium was packed, sold out, and it was a crazy atmosphere.

Because I’m from South Carolina, I wish the move to the SEC had happened a few years earlier. We had a chance to go two years ago, so I would have been able to play in the SEC last year if they had made the switch then. But it didn’t happen. It would have been nice to go back home and play at South Carolina and Georgia. It’s still great that the university switched to a great conference like the SEC. I know they’re ready for it.

Texas A&M is known as a football school, but we all supported each other’s teams. A lot of the football players came to our games and we went to their games, just like the other sports – baseball, volleyball, softball, we all supported each other.

After getting my contract signed and starting to work out at our practice facility about a month ago, I’ve been able to spend more time with Arnie Kander, our strength coach. I know you’ve probably heard a lot about him from a lot of other players over the years, but he’s really helped me out. I feel like a new player. My body feels great. I’m trying to get stronger, also, because I know you have to be strong to play in this league. He’s really helping me out a lot.

He’s changed my game already. He’s changed my body. I’m just going to keep working and listening to him. He’s made my ballhandling a lot tighter. My ballhandling is sometimes a little bit loose and he’s helped me tighten up my game all around, which is great. When I first started to work with Arnie, he told me that I needed to improve my balance. My balance was a little off, he said, because of the knee surgery I had during last season in school.

I think he’s corrected that. A lot of the things I wasn’t able to do at first in his weight room, I’m able to do them now. I’ll just keep on building from there. There are still a few weeks to go until training camp opens, so whatever Arnie and the coaches want me to do, I’m going to keep on doing it.

I think I can be in a little bit better condition, but it’s good for what we need right now. I know I’ll have to kick it up a notch for training camp, but I know I’ll be there when it opens. I feel like I’ve made a lot of strides since the draft – from Summer League to coming here and working out with the coaches – but I also know I have a lot more to take.