Getting to Know: Royal Ivey

Royal Ivey said he wants to be a “pest” and a “nuisance” on the defensive end of the floor.

Ivey has carved a role for himself throughout the league as a defender and for the ability to play both guard spots. Entering his seventh season, Ivey has career averages of 3.6 points, 1.2 assists and 1.2 rebounds.

Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., Ivey went to a prep school before he received Division I offers from big schools. He played four seasons at Texas, where he finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in career starts (126) and was a two-time Big 12 Conference All-Defensive team selection.

We caught up with Ivey on Thursday.

You’re going for your degree in elementary education back at Texas, right?
“Yes, I’m finishing up my degree in elementary education with a minor in social work and when I’m done I want to open up my own charter school.”

How did you come up with the idea of opening a charter school?
“Well, I come from a lineage of school teachers. Both my grandmothers were school teachers. My mother was a school teacher, she just retired after 35 years of service. I just took that to heart. That’s my passion, to teach kids and to be around kids and see kids develop and grow and become successful role models in our society.”

Did you have a favorite subject growing up?
“I used to like social studies and science. I hated math.”

Has academics always been a priority for you?
“Definitely. In our house it was books before basketball all the time. You had to get your homework done or you couldn’t go out, you couldn’t turn on the TV or play with your friends. So it was always books first in my household.”

Basketball-wise, you didn’t get many scholarship offers out of high school, right?
“No, when I was in Cordozo I had a lot of lower Division I offers. Not many schools really offered me scholarships so I had to do a post-graduate year at Blair Academy (in New Jersey). I was only 17 at the time when I went there so I was young. But I was under the radar and just continued to work on my game and continued to compete then Texas came into the picture a year later.”

So do you know Kevin Durant just through the Texas pipeline?
“Oh yeah, definitely. I comeback. I’m here right now and comeback every summer and give back to the program because I’m thankful and grateful for what the program has done for me and I haven’t forgotten where I came from. I come down here and work with the guys and we hang out. Just being there and being that big brother, they call me ‘OG,’ you know, the ‘old guy.’ I’m just showing my face, talking to them, sitting them down and listening to them. Just being there and showing that I care and I want to see them make it to the next level and be successful. I always comeback and speak to the kids. I’m always around. I’m always a phone call away. I love to do that. That’s my passion. Just giving back and being here.”

Do people still call you by your nickname, ‘Cheese’?
“Yeah, they call me ‘Cheese.’ They started calling me ‘Cheese’ when I got to Atlanta. Before that my nickname was just ‘Roy.’ I guess they got that from Pulp Fiction, that line, ‘what do you call a quarter-pounder with cheese? A Roy-al with cheese.’”

Why did you choose to come to Oklahoma City?
“It’s a young team, up-and–coming and what they have planned in the future fits right into what I’m looking for. It’s family-oriented and guys are looking to reach one goal and that’s to get better and win at the highest level. Their core guys are great. The sky’s the limit for those guys.”

Where did you get your reputation as a defender?
“That’s been my bread-and-butter in basketball ever since I was growing up in New York and guarding the best guards in New York City and going to college and guarding the best guys in college. Just put me on the best guy. I want a shot at them – whoever.”

Did you have any role models growing up?
“As far as when I was coming up, my favorite player was Dominique Wilkins. I just loved his game. He was explosive, he brought a lot of energy to the game and excitement. That was my role model growing up.”

Contact Chris Silva