High School Allstar Games Recap: Player Interviews

High School Allstar Games Recap: Player Interviews
Apr 25, 2006, 02:20 am
Interviews conducted with all of the top high school players in the country at the Jordan Classic, Roundball Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit.

Interviewed players include Greg Oden, Thaddeus Young, Kevin Durant, Spencer Hawes, Paul Harris, Brandan Wright, Wayne Ellington, Tywon Lawson, Derrick Caracter, Lance Thomas, Earl Clark, Damion James, Daequan Cook, Curtis Kelly, David Lighty, Duke Crews and Edgar Sosa.

DraftExpress High School All-star Game Coverage:

McDonald's All-American Game Recap

Nike Hoop Summit, Team USA Preview

Nike Hoop Summit, International Team Preview

Nike Hoop Summit, Team USA practices

Nike Hoop Summit, International Team practices

Nike Hoop Summit, Game Recap

Roundball Classic, Practice Report

Roundball Classic, Game Recap

At the Jordan Classic: Thursday AM Practice

At the Jordan Classic: Thursday PM Practice

At the Jordan Classic: Friday Scrimmage

At the Jordan Classic: Main Event and Regional Game Recaps

Jordan Classic

Joseph Treutlein

Thaddeus Young

DraftExpress: What did you think of your performance in today’s scrimmage?

Thaddeus Young: I think I played ok. I didn’t do very well on the offensive side, but I played good defense, got a couple of steals, played the passing lanes, and pretty much contained my man.

DX: What do you think you need to work on the most heading into the NCAA?

TY: Everything. You’ve got to work hard at everything, in every aspect of your game, just take your hard work in there.

DX: What position do you project yourself at?

TY: Small forward, shooting guard.

DX: I’ve been told you were planning to head to the NBA this year if not for the new draft rules, is that true?

TY: If I was gonna be a top 10 pick, I was gonna go.

DX: So you would’ve tested the waters, basically?

TY: Yeah. If I would’ve known I was a top 10 pick, yeah.

DX: Do you plan to leave after your freshman year at Georgia Tech?

TY: It all depends, you know. If I have a good first year and I’m projected as a top 10 pick and I know I’m going to go in the top 10 in the draft, I’m going, but it’s not really a big deal right now.

DX: What were your reasons for choosing Georgia Tech?

TY: Basically because of the coach there, the players, the city, the school, most of all the great academics, and it’s in the ACC.

DX: Many people think you could come in and help turn the team around quickly. How much of an impact do you think you will have your first year?

TY: If I come in and work hard, and get used to how the ACC players play and how the college stuff goes, I think I’ll be a big impact to the team and conference. We have a good class coming in, though, so it’s not just me.

Edgar Sosa:

DraftExpress: What did you think of your performance in today’s scrimmage?

Edgar Sosa: I think I played pretty good. I hit a couple of deep three pointers, but in the second half I kind of got a little anxious and turned the ball over maybe twice, so I got to tighten up on that. But I’m just out here trying to have fun and play with the guys.

DX: What part of your game do you think you need to work on the most?

ES: As far as preparing myself for college, I think I need to work on my strength, work a little bit on my defense, and my shot selection. I think being a pure point guard in college, you have to know when you’re going to shoot and when you’re not going to shoot, so that’s what I need to learn as far as playing college basketball.

DX: So you expect to step in at a pure point guard role at Louisville next year?

ES: Yeah, I expect to step in as a pure point guard. Coach says I can help them out a little bit in scoring, but I’m not going to have to do too much scoring. I just have to get it to those who score the ball, and just run the team and play defense.

DX: What led to your choosing of Louisville?

ES: Just coach Pitino. He’s a great coach, he prepares everyone to get to the next level, and I know when I get there, I’m going to work my hardest. So if I want to play in the NBA, he’s the right coach for me.

DX: How do you think his (Rick Pitino’s) experience at the NBA and NCAA levels will help you?

ES: Because he knows what NBA players are capable of and he knows what it takes to get to the NBA. I’m just going to go out there hoping that he pushes me everyday. I’m gonna push myself, and maybe I can get to that level if I work hard enough.

Duke Crews

DraftExpress: What’d you think of your performance in today’s scrimmage?

Duke Crews: I think I played fairly well. I rebounded well, held my position on the floor well. So far I’m just looking forward to the game tomorrow.

DX: What part of your game do you think you need to work on the most?

DC: Everything. There’s room for improvement in every part of your game. I’m not going to pinpoint one thing in my game. I just need to work on everything as a whole.

DX: What led to you choosing to attend Tennessee to play for coach Bruce Pearl?

DC: I believe in him as a coach. For me, he was the right fit for me: the academic program, it’s a great recruiting class, and on top of that, I wanted to choose a university that I could leave a mark on. You know, be known as a guy that helped get the university to a certain level, as far as nationally, and maintain that. At the end of my career, I want people to say when you think about the University of Tennessee, you think about Duke Crews, one of the great players to play there.

DX: What role do you expect to play next year?

DC: I’m looking to go in and work hard. And you know, no one’s promised anything going into college. You could be the number one player in the country or the last player on the bench. I’m just going to go in and work hard, earning my time, and then when I get my time, being productive on the court, at both ends of the floor.

DX: Do you project yourself at a certain position on the floor, between SF or PF?

DC: Athlete. I just go out and play hard. Whoever you tell me to guard I’m going to guard and whatever you tell me to do I’m going to do.

J.L Weil

Brandan Wright:

“[New York] is a fast city, man. Quite a change from Nashville. All the skyscrapers, the people walking around. I’m really enjoying myself so far.”

“It’s hard for the big guys to get touches in these type of games. They’re really guard-oriented because they handle the ball more, but I just got to go out there and play hard, make plays.”

“A combination of things … everything. Strength, ball handling, shooting from around 12 or 15 feet and finishing at the hole. All the things you need to get ready for the next level.”

Question: Who’s the best player you’ve faced thus far in your career?

“Greg [Oden] is the best player I’ve faced so far. He’s just a big, strong guy. He can make a lot of plays.”

“Tyler [Hansbrough] is going to demand a lot of double-teams, so I have to be there to pick up the slack. It’s kind of a change, since he’s a big bruiser on the inside, and I’m more of an athletic, slasher type of post player. It’ll be a nice change-up.”

Brandan Wright

DraftExpress: How do you think you’ll fit in with Hansbrough at North Carolina?

Brandan Wright: I think I’ll fit in great. I think I’ll be a great compliment to him. He’s a big body guy, a powerful low post guy, I think I’m just the opposite, a more agile, athletic guy who can hit the 12 footer when he’s getting doubled. I’m just trying to open it up for him, because he’s going to be the man next year, and he’s going to be our leader, so I’m really looking forward to it.

DraftExpress: Do you know what your wingspan is?

Brandan Wright: I think it’s 7’4.” Maybe 7’6.” I think it’s 7’6” actually.

DraftExpress: What position do you envision yourself playing down the road?

Brandan Wright: I see myself playing more at the 4, but also being able to step out and play a little 3, just trying to create mismatches for the defense. If they try and put a smaller man on me I’ll take him inside, if they try and put a bigger guy on me I’ll face him up, just a guy who can take advantage of every situation.

DraftExpress: Who do you pattern your game after?

Brandan Wright: Mostly K.G. He’s a long, athletic guy who can shoot the J, handle the ball, post moves, he just does it all, and he plays hard too. I like the intensity he has.

DraftExpress: What weaknesses do you think you need to improve during your first year of college?

Brandan Wright: Well, obviously I’ve got to work on my strength, and I’m just going to work on everything. Everything’s going to need improvement, going to the ACC. Ball handling, shooting, just the whole 9.

DraftExpress: How do you think your style will fit in with the international style at the Hoop Summit?

Brandan Wright: I don’t know, I’ve never played against international players, but I know they like to spread it out and shoot the ball. They want to spread it out, so I’ll try and get my hand in their face, block a few shots, just try and get out there and outrun them. Use our athleticism to make plays on them.

DraftExpress: What do you think your best skill is right now?

Brandan Wright: Running the floor, blocking shots, rebounding, hitting my jumper, facing up in the post, I think those are some of my strengths.

DraftExpress: What do you think of the NBA age limit?

Brandan Wright: It’s not bad at all. Players like me and a few other of these guys out here may have made the jump, but this is going to help us out, having to go to college, seeing where you stand, getting strong and stuff like that, and improve your play.

DraftExpress: Is it nice being at this game with some other North Carolina recruits?

Brandan Wright: Ah yeah. We’re representing North Carolina well, having three guys playing on the U.S.A Team. The other three guys in our class are very good also, so we’re just going out there and trying to represent.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot for your time.

Brandan Wright: No problem.

Paul Harris:

On his vocal style:

“It’s just an instinct. I just want to be the leader out there. Let everybody know I’m there on helpside ‘D’, let them know I’m there and just go out and have fun.”

“Honestly, to yourself, you have to be true to yourself and I know I’m not ready. I’m ready to go to college.”

On what he brings to the floor most: “Energy, leadership and energy. Just let the other team know that I’m out there.”

“For me, it’s working on conditioning and shooting. If I can work on those two, I think I can be all right.”

Paul Harris

DraftExpress: You have a body type that seems more like an NFL linebacker than a high school basketball player. How did you go about building it up?

Paul Harris: Well, you know I just do a lot of pushups, I never really lift weights. I started this year, but then I stopped when it started hurting my arms.

DraftExpress: What do you think your position will be at the next level?

Paul Harris: I say swing man/3.

DraftExpress: How do you think your up tempo style will fit in with the slower Syracuse offense?

Paul Harris: Well, I gotta do what the coach say. If that’s what he wants, then I gotta adjust my game to that.

DraftExpress: If the NBA rules you eligible for the draft, is there any way you would consider declaring?

Paul Harris: No, I’m not ready. I want to go to college.

DraftExpress: What areas of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?

Paul Harris: My jumpshot. The number one thing.

DraftExpress: How do you plan on improving your jumpshot?

Paul Harris: Shooting hundreds and thousands of shots a day.

DraftExpress: You played on a really loaded Notre Dame prep team this year. Do you feel that helped or hurt your exposure?

Paul Harris: Well it doesn’t matter you know. We finished number one, that’s all that counts.

DraftExpress: How do you think your style fits in with the International style?

Paul Harris: I think if we just come out and play our game and play tough D, we can win the game.

DraftExpress: What’s the deal with the whole ‘Let’s Go’ thing (Paul yells this phrase seemingly 50 times per game)?

Paul Harris: (laughing) Let’s go. Play hard and win.

DraftExpress: You have a huge following in the Niagara Falls area. Do you think many people made it down to see you in this game?

Paul Harris: Not that much. I’d say in the Jordan Classic there will probably be more.

DraftExpress: With one true point guard on the Hoop Summit roster, do you expect to see time there?

Paul Harris: Well if that’s what they put me at, that’s what I’m going to do.

Kevin Durant:

“I’m a hard worker. I like to play with a lot of passion. As you can see, I scream a lot on the court. I leave it all between the lines. There are no friends on the court, just me and my teammates. I think I’ll bring that to Texas, plus my inside-outside game.”

“There’s a lot of talk that I might have [gone straight to the NBA], but I try not to think about it. I might have, who knows.”

“I was a point guard before I got to be 6’11”. In a whole summer, I grew about six inches. I just wanted to keep everything [his PG skills] with me. All the players in the NBA, they can dribble and shoot, they’re versatile, they do it all pretty well.”

"Any position that coach wants me to play, really. I think I can play from 2 to the 5, maybe not the whole game, but somewhat .. .even some point guard."

“To me, every time I shoot a jumper, I think it’s going in. That’s why I shoot a lot. In the first half, I shot a lot of jumpers, but towards the end of the game, I started taking it to the hole more, and pull-up jumpers. In this game, I’m not going to try and take as many jumpers, but if it’s open, I’m gonna knock it down.”

“There were some real good international players. Especially the big guy, Sene. I didn’t realize he was that good. I’m not going to be surprised if some of those guys are in the NBA.”

Roundball Classic

Rodger Bohn

Greg Oden:

DraftExpress: You’ve had a magical high school career, and this is presumably your final game. Are you glad that things are finally over?

Oden: This is not going to be my last game. We have Indiana all-stars and then we have another all star game, so this is not my last.

DraftExpress: What are you looking to improve upon most by the time you’re at Ohio State?

Oden: I’m just looking to get stronger mostly. I want to improve my footwork and improve my game and my shot.

DraftExpress: Now do you have a target weight you’d like to reach?

Oden: No, but I would like to be bigger. I know that. I don’t really have a target one though.

DraftExpress: With the NBA putting its age limit in, that obviously took a ton of pressure off of you in terms of what decision you’d have to make for next year. Are you happy that the NBA put the age limit in, considering that you don’t really have to think about the NBA for now and answer countless questions about it?

Oden: Not really. The questions weren’t about it. I didn’t really get them as much as people think. The rule…it’s there. There’s nothing I can really do about it. It wasn’t really about it. I knew I always wanted to go to college, so there really wasn’t anything to it.

DraftExpress: What do feel that the “Thad Five” will be able to accomplish next year at Ohio State?

Oden: I don’t know. We’ve gotta get there first. I know me, Mike, and Daequan…we click on the court. And David, playing with him these past two days, we click with him. Next year, we’ve just gotta click with all of the other players, because those are the guys who we’re going to be following and playing after.

DraftExpress: Can you tell me a little bit about your wrist injury? I know it’s been nagging you for a few weeks now. How severe is it?

Oden: It’s just a sprained wrist. I sprained it the first game of sectionals and never really had a chance to let it rest.

DraftExpress: Ok Greg, thanks a lot. Best of luck in the game.

Oden: Thank you very much.

Earl Clark

DraftExpress: You’re regarded as one of the top twenty players in the country and easily one of the most talented ones, but your performance at the McDonald’s game didn’t show that. Can you tell me what happened at the McDonald’s game?

Clark: We took a tough loss. The other team was coached better then us, and they shared the ball more then us. We were one pass and shoot, and that’s why I think we lost.

DraftExpress: At 6’9, 6’10 and with the skill package that you have, you will have the opportunity to play three or four positions in college. What position do you think they’ll stick you at next year at Louisville?

Clark: Mostly the two and the three. Coach P runs three guards, so I’ll be running the break. I’m going to be energized out there.

DraftExpress: Is there any one position in particular that you’d prefer to play?

Clark: Nah, I like floating around. I like playing every position, running down the court playing this position and that position. It’s fun for me, so it really don’t matter.

DraftExpress: Being your height, most coaches would immediately put you under the basket as a post player. How did you develop such guard skills while being the size of a post player?

Clark: I always liked to dribble. There were some days when I would go to the park and I wouldn’t even shoot. I would just dribble around and try to cross people up in the park. It was just something that I always did.

DraftExpress: You have played for an Adidas AAU team for years now. Why did you choose to play in the Reebok game instead?

Clark: I went to ABCD the last two years. I liked it. I think Sonny does a great job with teaching us a lot, and I know he’s going to take care of us and I was going to have fun. A big factor was some of the player that was playing that I wanted to be around, and I wanted to play with them. That’s why I picked the Roundball.

DraftExpress: What areas of your game are you looking to improve upon the most before you hit campus at Louisville?

Clark: I think to work on my shooting and on the ball defense. That’s it really

DraftExpress: Speaking of defense, what positions do you think you’ll have to defend? Is there any possibility that you might play the 2 or 3 on offense, but guard opposing power forwards defensively because of your height?

Clark: I’m not sure. That’s something that we’re going to have to figure out when we get to Louisville, but that is something that we’ve talked about.

DraftExpress: What made you choose Louisville over Rutgers?

Clark: First of all, I think Coach P knows what it takes to make it. When I went down there, I felt like I was at home. I seen the workouts, and I seen how I was going to get better…That was the biggest factor, so I chose Louisville.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot Earl. Best of luck Sunday in the game.

Clark: Thanks man.

Lance Thomas

DraftExpress: Everyone knows that you’re down to Rutgers and Duke. Have you set a timetable as to when you’re going to make a decision?

Thomas: I’m looking to make my decision shortly after this game. Probably within the next week or two.

DraftExpress: Tell me about the pros and cons that Duke and Rutgers offer respectively.

Thomas: The pros for Rutgers are the chance to get immediate playing time and if I go there, you know Eugene Harvey would come with me. We play really well together and we play in New Jersey and would play in front of our state and could turn the program around. I’m inspired by that. The cons are that they’re not really established yet and I’d be taking a big risk, but it takes special people to do things like that and I think pretty capable of it, but right now I’ve gotta do what’s best for me.

For Duke…You can’t really pinpoint anything bad about Duke. I really can’t think of any cons that come to mind. People say “Duke and Rutgers, it’s a no brainer”, but when you look at it from different angles and different prospective, you see things through a different light. That’s why I’m waiting to make my decision.

DraftExpress: Are you waiting to see who Rutgers announces as their head coach before making a decision?

Thomas: I think Fred Hill is the head coach right now. Basically, whoever it is doesn’t really change things for me. If Gary Watters were still there, it’d still be the same. “Fred Hill”? is a great recruiter. He’s recruited me for a very long time and I think the world of him. As the same for Coach K. I think the world of both those coaches. This is a very crucial decision because it’s the next four years of my life, that’s why I’m taking my time and making the right choice.

DraftExpress: Your versatility is going to allow you to develop into a three or a four at the next level. What position do you think you’ll play in college?

Thomas: I just want to play. The 3 or the 4. I’m going to do what it takes to win. I’m not on the floor for numbers or anything. I played for a winning program under Coach Hurley. Winning is in my blood. I’ll do the little things to win. I don’t have to score points to effect the game, but I can score. Whatever position they put me in, I’m going to play.

DraftExpress: So one of the main reasons that you’re considering Rutgers is because of the immediate playing time you’d receive?

Thomas: Playing time is critical. Freshman year, you could be a diaper dandy or you could be in the shadows. I don’t want to be a mediocre player because I think I’ve worked too hard for that. My drive for greatness is very strong. It’d be an underachievement for myself not to have a good freshman year.

DraftExpress: What aspects of your game are you looking to improve upon most?

Thomas: Everything. Most importantly, my perimeter game. I’ve been working out really hard with Coach Hurley in the morning before school We work out after school. We’re just going through his workout plan and it’s really helping me a lot with my game. He sees how motivated I am and he knows that I want to be a pro. He’s giving up his personal time waking up extra early. He lives about an hour and a half away from the school, and he wakes up every morning to work out with me on my game. I just want to be the best player I can be.

DraftExpress: Speaking of going pro, what are your thoughts on the NBA’s new age limit?

Thomas: It doesn’t effect me because I never thought I was going pro out of high school, and I never had my mind on that. I think it is holding some players back. Guys that could come in and have an immediate impact on the league. What can two years in college do to detriment your game? I think it can only help you. I’m going to use it to my advantage, so just make the best of it. Further your education and you’re going to further your game, so just make the best of it.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot Lance and best of luck in the game Sunday.

Thomas: You’re welcome. Thanks for interviewing me.

David Lighty

DraftExpress: You’re one of the few Ohio players to be selected to the Roundball Classic in recent years, although there will be many more to come in the next few years with the loaded classes we have. Can you tell me a little about how it feels to be selected for this game?

Lighty: Well there were older guys who played before us, led the way, and paved the path for us. We’re just trying to do what they did, so kids younger then us can do the same thing.

DraftExpress: What are you looking to show scouts and fans during the Roundball?

Lighty: My versatility. My rebounding skills, the way I run the floor, the way I pass the ball. Then how I defend. I can guard anybody, from big men to point guards.

DraftExpress: As many know, you suffered a horrible knee injury that ended your junior season and kept you off of the AAU circuit last summer. How is the knee now?

Lighty: It’s doing pretty good. It’s not back to 100% yet, but it’s getting there with time. By the time I get to Ohio State, I’ll be 100%.

DraftExpress: You led you high school (Cleveland Villa Angela-Saint Joseph) to the state championship game this past season, but unfortunately you ran into O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker, and Co. Can you tell me a little about what it was like to go up against O.J. and Bill?

Lighty: I played against them before in AAU and everything, but it was a great experience. They were the number three ranked team in the nation and we were the underdogs. We were trying to come out and make a statement, but things got out of control a little bit (laughs), but that’s just basketball.

DraftExpress: What do you see your role being next year at Ohio State?

Lighty: I’m going to pretty much do whatever the coach asks of me. If they want me to score, I’m going to try to score. If you want me to defend, I’m going to go defend. Pretty much whatever the coach wants me to do.

DraftExpress: You played point guard this past season for your high school team and did quite well. Will you be playing any point guard at Ohio State?

Lighty: Probably if I get it on the rebound, I’ll push it up on the fast break or something. No, not really though. I think playing point this past year helped me a lot with my dribbling and my decision making.

DraftExpress: Do you feel that playing in this game alongside Greg (Oden), Daequan (Cook), and Mike (Conley Jr.) gave you guys the opportunity to develop some early continuity that most recruits aren’t able to?

Lighty: Yeah, we get to see how each other play, get a feel for what each other likes to do, and get a feel for each others tendencies. It will help us out a lot.

DraftExpress: Thanks David. Best of luck in the Roundball.

Lighty: Thank you.

Curtis Kelly

DraftExpress: Tell UCONN fans a little about what you’ll bring to the table next year for the Huskies.

Kelly: I think I’m going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of attitude, a lot of enthusiasm. I’m just going to come out there and play hard and try to do the best I can to help us win.

DraftExpress: Right now, you’re viewed as a combo forward. What position will you be playing at UCONN next year?

Kelly: I’m not sure. Whatever position they give me. If they want me to play center, I’ll play center. I can play any position. If they want me to play point, I can play the point. DraftExpress: For those fans out there who have never seen you play, could please briefly describe your game for me?

Kelly: Man…Hard work. A lot of agility, a lot of running. A lot of moves…spin moves…exciting. All that kind of stuff.

DraftExpress: Why did you pick UCONN? What made them stand out above everyone else?

Kelly: Hall of fame coach. Top program to come out of. They produce real good big guys…small forwards, power forwards, and centers. They’re just a great program. The top program in the country, why not?

DraftExpress: I can definitely see where you’re coming from in terms of how they develop big men at UCONN. Speaking of which, what areas of your game do you feel you need to improve upon most?

Kelly: My ball handling and definitely my shot. Long range, mid range, and all that. Also a lot of strength…strength and conditioning.

DraftExpress: Now I don’t know if you heard or not, but Josh Boone recently announced he’s entering the NBA Draft, although he’s not signing with an agent. How do you think that’s going to change things in terms of where you’re going to play on the court?

Kelly: Wow, I didn’t know that. I don’t think it’s going to change where I play on the court. I just think that’s going to make things more exciting, more enjoyable. That guy is a great, great player. I didn’t know he did that. Wow, he really did that?

DraftExpress: Yes.

Kelly: Wow, I didn’t even know that. He’s a great player. I’m just going to come in and pick up from some of the things he did, and fill in his spot.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot Curtis. Best of luck in the Roundball.

Kelly: Thanks.

Daequan Cook

DraftExpress: What kind of an impact do you think you can have next year at Ohio State?

Cook: A big impact. Especially on the offensive end, you know. The thing I need to work on is my defense, but I think I’ll have a great impact as an offensive player at Ohio State.

DraftExpress: Do you feel that the Roundball served as a great opportunity for Greg, Mike, and yourself to build some continuity with David (Lighty)?

Cook: It really gave us a chance to play with each other. I didn’t know we were going to play with each other that much. I didn’t really expect that. People probably thought it was bogus, or set up. It was good for us to play with each other and just get a little feel for how each other play on the court together.

DraftExpress: What are you looking to improve upon most before you reach Ohio State?

Cook: The aspect that I’m looking to work on most is my defense. That’s what I’m really lacking in my game.

DraftExpress: What are some of the personal goals that you’ve set for yourself next year?

Cook: Just to work hard and come to play. That’s the main two. Also to focus on working hard in the classroom.

DraftExpress: Were you happy with your performances in the McDonald’s game and then tonight in the Roundball?

Cook: Oh yeah. No question. I played my game. I let my game do the talking for me, and I didn’t force anything.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot Daequan. Best of luck next year with the Buckeyes.

Cook: Thank you.

Damion James

DraftExpress: Damion, with Coach Sampson’s departure from Oklahoma, has that made you reopen your recruiting at all?

James: I don’t know yet. I have to see who they bring in. It depends upon who the new head coach is if I reopen my recruiting.

DraftExpress: Have you spoken with the coaches at Oklahoma about the situation?

James: Oh yeah.

DraftExpress: Have they told you whether or not they’ll release you if you were to ask?

James: I ain’t said nothing about that yet. My high school coach take care of all that. I just sit back and relax man. Just play basketball.

DraftExpress: So who are a few of the schools that you’d consider if you reopened your recruitment?

James: I don’t know man. I’m just playing it safe right now.

DraftExpress: Was Coach Sampson the main factor in you attending Oklahoma?

James: I really had a good relationship with Coach Sampson, but apparently that didn’t work out. It’s all good man.

DraftExpress: Many felt that you were snubbed from the McDonald’s All American Game. Did you ever receive any explanation as to why you weren’t chosen?

James: The dudes that was in it, I guess they was better then me. I was just glad to play in the Roundball.

DraftExpress: What areas of your game are you looking to improve upon most before you reach Oklahoma, or any other school for that matter?

James: Just everything. I’m trying to be the best. I’m gonna work at everything, every day.

DraftExpress: Are there any particular goals that you have for yourself next year?

James: Player of the Year man. That’s my goal.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot Damion. Best of luck with the Oklahoma situation.

James: Thanks man.

Derrick Caracter

DraftExpress: Derrick, can you tell me a little about what happened to you at Notre Dame Prep? Why were you off the team at the mid season point?

Caracter: The situation at Notre Dame was a controversial one. I was coming one of the top high schools in the country, where the basketball situation was legit. I went to a coach where he gets a lot of talent, and doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’m just going to try to make it the best for the rest of the year and get out of there as fast as I can.

DraftExpress: Many question your current academic standing. Are you going to be eligible to play next year at Louisville?

Caracter: Oh yeah, definitely. I’ve already qualified for college. All I have to do now is stay in school and get my diploma.

DraftExpress: What do you see your role being next year at Louisville?

Caracter: Umm…Just coming in and being an inside presence and giving them the physical toughness that they didn’t have this year.

DraftExpress: Are there any specific goals that you have set for yourself for next season?

Caracter: As a team, or for myself?

DraftExpress: For yourself.

Caracter: Probably to be Big East Player of the Year. For us to go as far in the tournament as we can, and average a double-double.

DraftExpress: With the NBA putting it’s age limit in, it held back many players from your calls from entering the NBA Draft this season. What are your personal thoughts on the rule?

Caracter: I don’t think it’s fair to put an age limit on what you can do and when you can get paid for something you do well. A rule is a rule, and nobody is going to change it.

DraftExpress: If the rule wouldn’t have been put in, would you have considered entering the draft out of high school?

Caracter: I’m not even sure. The rule is in effect, so I can’t even tell you what I’d do. I feel that I was rated a little lower then I should have been by a lot of people though.

DraftExpress: What areas of your game are you looking to work on before you hit campus at Louisville?

Caracter: Running. Running and trying to get in the best shape as I possibly can.

DraftExpress: Do you have a set weight that you’d like to reach?

Caracter: 265. 265 or 270 lbs.

DraftExpress: Now you played much better in the second half of the Roundball game. Was there anything different for you in half two?

Caracter: I think it was just building confidence and stuff like that. I just told myself “I can do this”.

DraftExpress: What happened with your omission from the McDonald’s game? Did you ever receive any explanation as to why you weren’t selected?

Caracter: (laughs) A couple of people felt my game wasn’t…felt I was a bad kid and didn’t fit the image of that game. As far as that, I’ve just turned all the negatives into positives and made the best of things.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot Derrick and congratulations on your MVP award.

Caracter: Thank you.

Nike Hoop Summit

Mike Schmidt

American Players:

Wayne Ellington:
Yeah, you know, I just got in the zone. I knocked down the first one, and it felt good, so I knew I had a couple more coming. That’s just how it goes with me, if I knock down 1 or 2 in a row, than there’s going to be a couple more coming. I got hot, and the coaches just kept calling plays for me, and I was getting wide open, and I was knocking it down.

Local Reporter: How about you and Gerald, was it like you were playing ball back in high school?

Wayne Ellington: Yeah. We don’t even do it purposely, we don’t talk about our games, it just happens. We’ve played with each other for three years now, so it’s just natural, we kind of have a sense for each other, and how we’re going to play, so that just happened naturally. We look for each other and find each other.

Question: The International guys came out early and jumped to a big lead, was this at all shocking to you?

Wayne Ellington: No, I wasn’t shocked at all. Coach emphasized that all week. He told us they were going to get the ball up the floor, get out in transition, and they can shoot the ball very well, so when they came out and did that, we had a reality check. We had to check ourselves, and put our foot down, and play some defense, get back, and start to execute on offense.

Question: Did you get a sense early on that this was going to turn into more of a guard driven perimeter game?

Wayne Ellington: Well coach emphasized also that it starts with his guards all week, so we knew we had to come out and do a job on their guards, and stop them offensively, and us offensively got to get to the basket, and make some plays. That’s what we started to do.

DraftExpress: Did you find any particular part of the international rules hard to adjust to?

Wayne Ellington: No, not for me, because I played in the USA festival back in June, so I was kind of use to it. It’s hard to adjust to when you first start out, but personally I was used to it.
What are your thoughts on playing with your future Tar Heel teammates in this game, and do you think you’ve already developed chemistry with them?

Wayne Ellington: We was just out there having fun. I think next year we’re going to have more fun. I think we have a lot to bring to the table, and we all just know how to play the game. We understand the game, that’s the most important thing. I think next year the ACC is going to be very tough with a lot of great freshman coming in, along with the guys that are already there, so I think it’s going to be a big year next year.

DraftExpress: What do you think your role is going to be from the beginning at North Carolina?

Wayne Ellington: Just to contribute in any way. Coach told me he wants me to come in, put some points on the board, and contribute, so that’s what I’m going to try to do.

International Players:

Question: What was it like going against some of the top American players?

Milenko Tepic: Coach almost said everything, but for us, this was a big experience, big week. We went to some NBA games, we practiceed and worked out together. Coach said that came from many different countries, and that is strange, you know. In my country for instance we don’t play the same kind of basketball as Sene or somebody else play, and it’s a hard thing to in one week make us together to be a team. We tried to do our best, and I hope we learned something in this game and in this week that we can be using in our future. Those players are very good, they made a lot of hard shots. This was a tough game and a good experience.

Luigi Datome: We knew that [the] USA was more physical than us, but we had a lot of fun this week, and today too, because playing in a big arena like the FedEx one is a big fortune for a player my age.

Saer Sene: I’m sorry guys, my English is very bad. We was fighting, we was doing everything we can.

DraftExpress: Who do you guys pattern your games after?

Milenko Tepic: I think in the league there’s so many good players right now, but in every way you look [at] your position, you know. For example, Sene can look how O’Neal plays, I can look at how Vince Carter, or somebody else plays. I like Steve Nash a lot, he can pass the ball, he’s a good player. If I had to choose, I’d choose him.

Luigi Datome: Me, Dirk Nowitzki, I like him so much.

Saer Sene: Kevin Garnett

Ty Lawson

DraftExpress: What made you decide to transfer to Oak Hill?

Tywon Lawson: Probably more exposure, and like I mean, the best competition. You get better up there, always playing against great players.

DraftExpress: How is your relationship with Kevin Durant?

Tywon Lawson: Our relationship is real good. We were friends before Oak Hill, we’re friends after Oak Hill. We have a real good relationship.

DraftExpress: What was it like playing against OJ Mayo when he had 40+ points?

Tywon Lawson: It was fun. He’s a great player, I’d never played against him before, and it was great for me to see what he does and what I can work on.

DraftExpress: What role do you see yourself in your freshman year at North Carolina?

Tywon Lawson: Probably running the point guard, getting the team involved, getting everyone shots, and scoring a little bit if I have to.

DraftExpress: Do you see yourself starting from day 1?

Tywon Lawson: I want to, I mean I hope so. I’m going to work hard in practice, so I mean I want to though.

DraftExpress: How good do you think North Carolina will be next season with the impact of this recruiting class that you’re a part of?

Tywon Lawson: I think we’re going to be real good. I think we’re going to make it deep into the NCAA Tournament. I’m hoping we can get a national championship out of it.

DraftExpress: How is it different playing with Michael Beasley in comparison with Kevin Durant?

Tywon Lawson: When playing with Mike, he’s an inside presence, Kevin, he does everything, shoot, dribble, post up, he does all that. They’re both great players.

DraftExpress: What do you think of all the Raymond Felton comparisons you seem to be getting?

Tywon Lawson: It’s a good comparison, because Raymond Felton’s a great player, he did real well at North Carolina. I want to have my own identity. I don’t want to be known as Raymond Felton’s backup or something like that, I want to be Tywon Lawson, so the next guy coming in they be like ‘oh your like Tywon Lawson.’

DraftExpress: What areas of your game do you feel you need to work on going into college?

Tywon Lawson: Probably my mid-range game, probably like inside, because I either shoot a three, or go all the way to the basket. So mid-range game, and probably getting stronger with the ball.

DraftExpress: What steps do you plan on taking to improve your game?

Tywon Lawson: Probably just getting a lot of shots up, taking one dribble pull-ups, two dribble pull-ups.

DraftExpress: How does it feel being the only true point guard selected to the Hoop Summit team?

Tywon Lawson: It feels good, because they could pick any other point guard, or they could add a backup point guard but they didn’t, so it says a lot to me being the only true point guard on the team.

DraftExpress: How do you think your style fits in with the international style of play?

Tywon Lawson: I think it’ll be good, because we went to France, and we played over there, and it was a little difficult for the international players to play against, because we were up and down, so I think it’ll be real good against them.

DraftExpress: Thank you for your time.

Tywon Lawson: Thanks

Spencer Hawes

DraftExpress: How did you get so good at using both of your hands in the post?

Spencer Hawes: I grew up playing guard more, so it was something where you have to handle the ball, I didn’t want to be one dimensional, and my dad was my coach, and he played for a while. He always stressed being able to be fluid going both ways, and shooting left, and in about third grade, I started shooting about as many left as right, and kind of came naturally and it just progressed.

DraftExpress: How long did you play guard for?

Spencer Hawes: I think up until about my freshman year of high school. I was always the tallest, and I kind of had to play some center just because of that, but I wasn’t that tall comparatively, and then I had about a 5 inch growth spurt my freshman or sophomore year. I had some injury problems that kind of came with the territory just because you’re not supposed to grow that much that quickly, but once I got that all dealt with, I grew into my body as they say, and things just took off for playing more like a big man.

DraftExpress: What do you feel you need to work on in the next year?

Spencer Hawes: I think strength, and ball handling, shooting off the dribble, because, as you see, the game is changing. You don’t just rely on the big man scoring inside, you have to be versatile, and that’s something I want to add to my game, more of an inside first, but have the compliment.

DraftExpress: How do you feel your game fits with the international style?

Spencer Hawes: I think it fits pretty well, you know, they use big guys who can shoot, and I think I can shoot it pretty well for a taller guy, I’m able to step out, and I don’t think we necessarily play that way, but Kevin, Tywon and myself we played in an international tournament this summer, so I think we got acclimated then.

DraftExpress: What role do you see yourself playing your freshman year at Washington?

Spencer Hawes: I’m going to do whatever I can. There’s a lot of scoring leaving, so if that’s my role, then I’ll have to do that. Also, they have some gaps to fill defensively, with a shot blocker in the middle, so hopefully I can work on that and try and make that part of my repertoire as well.

DraftExpress: Do you know your exact height?

Spencer Hawes: I’m about 6’11” and 4/5ths right now, but with shoes I’m probably about 7’1,” because I wear insoles, so that helps out.

DraftExpress: What do you think about the NBA age limit?

Spencer Hawes: I think it’s something that had to get done eventually, because last year there were just way too many guys in the draft. If guys could get the right information it’d be fine, but some of these guys, people are telling them things, blowing their heads up, and they end up going in the second round, not getting a contract and they are throwing their talent away almost. It’s something, I’m not going to say I’m for it because you like to have the opportunity to make the decision yourself, but then again, I think overall for the game you have to put your end of the business aside and look at what it’s going to do for the game.

DraftExpress: Did John Brockman have any involvement in your decision to attend Washington?

Spencer Hawes: A little bit. Not that much, it’s nice, I’m always comfortable playing with him, and we know each others games real well. We compliment each other, he’s a big banger, I’m more of a finesse player, I can go on the outside when he’s on the inside. We just know where we’re going to be, it’ll be nice to get in there and already know his game.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot for your time

Spencer Hawes: No problem.

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