Q&A With Guard Matt Janning
Posted: Aug. 6, 2010
Guard Matt Janning may have just signed his first official NBA contract this week, but he's already a seasoned traveler when it comes to his craft.
Hot off jetting around the country for Summer League action in Orlando and Las Vegas, the hard work (not to mention some impressive showings on the court) has translated into a slot with the Suns for the Minnesota native. Averaging 12.6 ppg and 5.8 rpg in five starts for the club in Las Vegas, the undrafted guard comes way of Northeastern University, where he averaged 14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 2.8 apg in 128 career games for the Huskies.
Suns.com caught up with the team’s newest addition as he gets ready to join the club for the preseason.
Suns.com: First off, congratulations on signing with the Suns.
Matt Janning: It’s a thrill. I don’t even really know how to explain it. I’ve talked to my family, and everybody around me is very excited. It is an awesome feeling. With my time in Las Vegas, I felt comfortable with the system, the coaching staff and the players. They seem to really know what they’re doing, so it could prove to be a really good fit.
Right now, I’m thinking about training camp and making the roster. That’s what’s on my mind. I like the team. The Suns have had great chemistry over the years. They’ve played well together. Learning behind guys like Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Goran Dragic will be an amazing experience. As a young guy, you couldn’t ask for a better crew to step into and watch and learn from both on and off the court. I’m really excited about it all.
Suns.com: With the Summer Suns, you were the third-leading scorer and the second-leading rebounder on the club. Can you talk about your mindset when it came to your time in Las Vegas, especially coming off your summer league time with the Celtics down in Orlando?
Janning: I came out of Northeastern, which is a mid-major, so obviously the basketball prestige isn’t exactly as high as some other guys.’ I just wanted to prove I’m good enough to play with the best of the best. I thought I did that down in Orlando and then Phoenix gave me the opportunity to come out and do it out in Vegas. The opportunity was great. I played a ton of minutes and it turned out to be a really good choice for me to come out there.
Suns.com: Things seemed to really take off for you in Orlando in your last Summer League game after sitting out the previous contest with a DNP. You finished with 20 points and opened some eyes down there.
Janning: We had 12 or 13 guys down there, so they told everybody some us wouldn’t play in every game. “You’ll get small minutes, but you’ll get your chance.” The one day I didn’t play at all. I talked to my agent, and I thought I should have played, but it was all part of the process. He said not to lose my head, and the next day I played about 25 minutes and had one of the more complete games I’ve played in a long time. That made me more confident and helped me play well out in Las Vegas.
Suns.com: What were some of the things the Suns’ coaching staff said to you at the close of Summer League in Las Vegas.
Janning: They liked me as an overall player. My versatility playing at the one and the two with both guard positions are very beneficial to learning the NBA game and the overall transition. They liked my basketball IQ. It’s always good hearing it from those guys. That always gives me a little extra boost.
I can do a lot of things. Put me at the one, and I can be someone who can distribute the ball, find other guys and score at the same time. I’m very comfortable playing off the ball, as well. As for rebounding, I don’t know if I just have a knack for it or what. I try to emphasize it. Somebody has to do some of the little things. It can really get your game going if you can get in the flow, mix it up a bit and get a few rebounds. That can only help you.
Suns.com: You went undrafted back in June, so obviously that’s not an ideal situation for a guy looking to enter the league, but that didn’t seem to deter your motivation.
Janning: It was a bit disappointing, but it gives you options at the same time. It enabled me to go to Boston and play down in Orlando and then come out to Vegas and play for Phoenix. Being undrafted wasn’t a huge issue. It just showed that I still had more to prove, and I did that.
After my workouts, a few teams had me on their boards in terms of the draft… not as a top guy. I expected Summer League as an option after some good workouts in places. My agent said he would get me some Summer League jobs and go from there. I had to keep going out and keep performing.
Suns.com: Since the Suns already have a No. 23 on their roster in the form of Jason Richardson, what are your thoughts on a new jersey number?
Janning: (Suns Director of Player Personnel) Todd Quinter called to ask about that and told me to think about it. He said J-Rich is pretty set on his No. 23, so that one’s probably out (laughs).We’ll see, but I’ll have to get back to him on that one.