To check out part one of my Media Day tomfoolery, head on over to Liberty Ballers and read this. If you're lazy (and you know you are), I'll sum up with some convenient bullet points that help alleviate the problems I have with my transitions.
- I rode in an elevator with Evan Turner all by ourselves -- *exclusive interview*
- Evan said things that made me swoon like your girlfriend('s younger sister) at a Justin Bieber concert.
- Me and P&T's Seth Rosenthal may or may not have cuddled.
We pick up this jolly tale as I walked away from Evan Turner's table after 15 minutes of cold, hard interview (watch my hand leave the frame at :31). Now a free bird, I could talk to whomever I wanted. I scanned the room and looked for my next target. In continuing with my child-like narrative, here's a picture of the room. *Holds it up to the class* *Oohs and Ahhs*
After the jump, read some non-elevator, non-exclusive interview quotes from a buncha dudes I talked to yesterday.
As a refresher, the guys from the first set were Turner, Monroe, Hayward, Davis, Babbitt, Aldrich, and Henry in that order around the room. I said a few goofy things into my recorder because I couldn't help myself and sidled over to the Greg Monroe table. Upon realizing that it wasn't a lion's growl I was hearing and actually Monroe's Barry White voice, I clicked the little red button and went to work.
The first question I heard was Prada's, asking what he improved upon the most in going back to school:
I went backed and worked on everything but coming into this level, I'm still gonna be working on everything.
Way to get into specifics, Greg, that's the kind of gold we were looking for. He summed up the life of an NBA draft prospect in a very succinct (and moderately depressing) way:
You wake up, you work out, eat, work out again, fall asleep and do it all over again.
He also mentioned that he's eaten more steaks lately and the first thing he'll do after getting picked will be "eat dinner. I'm gonna eat dinner." FATTY ALERT.
Impressions from Monroe: He was anxious about the whole thing, not terribly uncomfortable, but didn't want to say anything too substantive. Also, BFG.
Immediately after walking away from Greg, I whispered into the microphone "This is nuts." I would know, I just listened to it. I sought out the least crowded table because I wanted some physical contact with them to make sure that they were, in fact, not Will.I.Am holograms, so I moonwalked to Luke Babbitt's table.
About playing with Deron Williams in Utah (note: The Utah guy from whereversville.com asked this question a million times -- I feel like he was at every table I was at):
That'd be unbelievable. Shooters and offensive players love playing with great point guards and he's showed he's one of the best in the league if not the best.
I asked: Why do you think scouts were so surprised by your impressive combine numbers?
I don't know. I only control what I can control. I did well at the Combine, I had a good year, and had good workouts.
Me again: What separates you from guys like Hayward, Henry, and George?
They're all good players and we can bring different things to the table. I think offensively, I can shoot the basketball. I think I can do that better than pretty much anyone in the draft.
He also said he cut his glorious hair for the workouts, but now he misses it. We miss it too, Luke.
Impressions from Babbitt: Felt relaxed, answered questions with relatively well-thought out answers, and seemed excited to prove himself.
I thanked him (almost Iced him since we're bros, but thought better of it because I assumed that, like any bro worth his salt, he'd have an Ice on him to block me, and I didn't want to have to chug two Ices in front of all the other media bros) and walked towards Xavier Henry, attempting to keep the giddiness off my face. I crouched directly to the left of Xavier, who may have given the best interview of the day.
First thing you're going to buy once you get the paycheck?
I have no clue what I'm gonna buy. No clue. I know I'm gonna invest most of it, because we gotta save our money. I never really wanted anything so this is crazy for me. Once i have money, I probably won't spend none of it. Coming from Oklahoma City, there was really nothing to have.
Me, trying not to giggle: Do you prefer operating in the halfcourt or running the fast break?
Either one. In the half court you're more structured, more plays, more opportunities to get open. In the fast break, you're always open. Somebody's gonna get open. Either way is fine.
Me again, bubbling with teen-love: How'd your jump shot get so pretty?
Honestly, I don't know. I never really changed it from when I was little, so I always just shot it, and I shot it well so I always kept shooting it like that. <---- *drools*
Me, trying to sound professional: Do you plan on getting more lift on your jump shot coming into the NBA?
I get plenty of lift on it, but I'm just gonna work on my release getting quicker. I see how Ray Allen did it and it worked for him.
Me, 4th question in a row, outright flirting: Who has the cooler name: Xavier Henry, Terrico White, or Al-Farouq Aminu?
Me, of course. Mine rolls off the tongue.
I love having guys talk about their teammates. Talking about other players, i.e. John Wall, Kobe, Lebron, etc, is mostly a waste of time, but usually you get some good stuff from guys talking about their boys. So I asked Xavier to hype up Cole Aldrich for me.
Cole's gonna be good. He's tall, he's long, he blocks shots, he makes all his hook shots so I don't see why he couldn't be good in the NBA. I really don't see too many weaknesses in Cole. I think he'll do great wherever he goes.
Me: Who should go first, you or him?
Man, me of course, 'cause I'm prettier. That's why.
"Thanks a lot, Xavier." "No problem."
Xavier impressions: He really was awesome. A bit anxious as he was playing with the tablecloth while answering the questions, but was so friendly with the reporters and smiled the whole time, especially at me. Somebody grab me some ice and maybe some paper towels.
Interlude: I know it's hard to believe, but I actually was being professional in there. Contrary to every natural instinct I had to run around high-fiving people and shooting air-jump shots, I acted (relatively) normal. What you are reading is my inner dialogue. End interlude.
I went to get some Gordon Hayward love (who is actually younger-looking in person), but he was talking exclusively with Sports Illustrated, answering their "The player I most want to play against is...." questions which were relatively annoying. The only crew of people that had decent questions that they asked to each player was the TBJ crew. I understand wanting to get various takes on the same question, but put a little more thought in it and come up with some new material. More on the question-asking later.
The crowd around Cole Aldrich had thinned, so I headed over there for the big man. I was around for Givony's questions which will presumably be posted on DX soon, but I did get this one in: What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Ali Farokhmanesh?
Isn't that the new horror story that came out in March?
I spoke with Ed Davis, but he didn't say much of note (except that his wrist is all healed and he wasn't disappointed with how his career went at UNC -- I disagree, sir) and I'm not his biggest fan anyway, so welcome to Snub City, Mr. Davis.
During the intermission, I took this picture of Seth picking his nose and DreamShake Tom and tried to catch my breath. Then the second guys came in, which is when it got real. Bullet points real? Fo' sho.
- John Wall enters
- Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, and Ekpe Udoh through the door
- Wesley Johnson looking fresh and blurry.
Now that it got real, here are a bunch more quotes/thoughts from Round 2 of the interviews.
Al-Farouq Aminu is less personable than Andre Miller. This is saying something. He answered a few of my questions though. Regarding his jumpshot improvements:
Just tweaked a couple things on it, little notes like making sure I keep my hand up, making sure I keep my elbow in and make sure I hold my follow through.
Regarding his drop in field goal percentage from his freshman to sophomore years:
On my first team, I didn't really have to take shots that i didn't want to. We had other players that were capable of scoring as well. It opened up the court. My second year, more of the offensive role was put on me so of course my percentages went down.
On over to Ekpe Udoh, who was happy to be there, albeit confused by some of the non-basketball questions. Definitely a good guy. I asked him about his age and the possibility he has already peaked:
I think I have a wide range of improvements but I'm just gonna stick to my strengths and work off of that. I know I'm not as consistent on offense but it's something I'm gonna work on.
Regarding getting more physical:
I gotta get in the weight room. That'll open up more things for me. Establishing a base, finishing with contact.
After taking a picture of Paul George's empty table and crying, I walked over to Patrick Patterson, who seemed like a great guy from the stuff I've seen from him before. In person, he was terrific. Well-spoken, calm, respectful. The kind of prospect you'd want to bring home to momma. I asked him about that West Virginia game that ended their tournament run.
Extremely frustrating. The hardest part was going back home, being from West Virginia, just dealing with the fans and the people. The loss was heartbreaking and definitely frustrating for me and my whole team.
Me: What was it like babysitting the freshmen this year?
Just like a job every single day. I felt like I should've gotten paid for babysitting them but it was fun on the court, on the time pretty much. They act like veterans and definitely experienced in the game of basketball.
Me: Talk about 3-point shot. You didn't hit any your first three years, hit 24 last year, how have you improved on that?
Working on my mechanics last summer. When you hit your first one the rest is easy. Just working with the coaches every day and my teammates pushing me to shoot the ball. Teams weren't aware I could play on the perimeter, put the ball on the floor and also shoot. They were only aware of my back to the basket and post-up ability. And this year, Coach Cal allowed me to play on the perimeter, shoot the ball, and put the trust in me to score all over the court.
Me: Do you feel like you could play the 3 at the NBA level?
Hopefully in the future. I'll feel more comfortable playing at the 3 position, but right now I feel safe, feel like it's home in the post and at the 4.
Class act. I had him slipping out of the lottery but he's such a high-character, high-IQ guy that I don't see him getting past 14 anymore. Onto Derrick Favors, represented of course by Liberty Ballers personality RickoT. He didn't say much of anything new and gave DmC some love.
It's always been fun playing against DeMarcus. He's a good player and he's gonna have a good NBA career, but it's just been fun playing against him. We both go at each other, we're both competitive. We couldn't really tell who won the matchup.
Pause. Fastforward to DeMarcus. Mike Prada asks who is better between the two of you.
I'm the better player. Hands down.
Love it. I wish Cousins was more personable because he's terrifically poignant, but just doesn't give a crap about the whole media show. You can read more about Favors/Cousins from Mike Prada -- awesome, thorough read.
Hey look! Paul George showed up. Due to my intense, one-sided love affair with him I had to get in his face for some questions. Some guy was asking him about free agency which isn't relevant, so I elbowed him in the teeth and stepped in. Here's some unadulterated Paul George for everyone to see.
I think I'm a player that can do a lot of things on the court. I can score the ball, defend, rebound, and playmake for everyone else. I think I can turn out to be one complete player at the next level. I want to work on a lot of decision-making, just being better with the ball. And ball-handling, you know being 6'9, being able to break down smaller guys and just understanding the game.
Me: How soon until Paul George becomes a household name? (AHHHHHHHHHHHHH)
Early on. Getting into the season, I hope I can have a tremendous start and carry it into the year. I think I can have a tremendous year.
Regarding becoming a go-to player in the NBA:
I think I will be later down the line. I definitely want to get comfortable on the team that I'm on and the players that are around me. I can't come in and say I'm gonna be the go-to right away. That definitely won't be the case. But whatever situation I'm in, I'll take full advantage of it.
This guy: Why do you think you shot up the draft boards so much in the past few weeks?
Just being able to come into workouts and show what I really couldn't show at Fresno State. I've been able to go against these top guys I have ranked higher than me, and I've been doing pretty good against them.
I ended with: "Hope to see you in Philly," and I know YOU don't care about that, but there is a few people (one might call them a mob) who share the same wishes. He was a great interview -- concise, personable, confident, well-dressed -- the four essentials. Really excited to see what happens with him come draft night, there will definitely be some leap-frogging going on, and I'm not just talking about what me and Seth are going to do between picks.
Wesley Johnson gave another great interview at the end. Things were wrapping up quickly so I didn't get to ask him much, but he said he prefers someplace warm, especially after spending college at Iowa State and Syracuse. He wanted to give a shout to Andy Rautins and Craig Brackins who, according to him, will make solid pros from the second round. I did get to ask him if he preferred Boeheim's zone or playing a more traditional man-to-man.
Man-to-man. We had success with the zone last year, but I would prefer man-to-man. It's fun [playing in Boeheim's zone] especially with guys that want to play defense. It was fun with those guys last year playing with them. That zone last year was like none other.
At this point, a frazzled old man came out from the Manhattan heat, slid past reporters and hotel security, and asked the single most important question in the history of the draft, a question everybody wanted to ask but nobody had the guts to.
Anybody in your family play any sports?
And that was it. My Media Day had come to an end. I shook hands with Derrick Favors, Al-Farouq Aminu, and the equally important Seth Rosenthal, Mike Prada, and Tom Martin, and headed out.
To sum up this monster of a post, I'd say my favorite interviewees were Paul George, Evan Turner, Xavier Henry, Patrick Patterson, and Wes Johnson. Getting a chance to do this was full-blown theft on my part, and what I'm about to do in the next couple hours is grand larceny. Thanks again to SBNation, you for reading this, Evan Turner for taking the elevator alone so I could get some 1-on-1 time with him, and my bosses who haven't come by my desk in a while to see how little work I've actually done.
More to come tomorrow if I don't retire from writing before then. Oh and uhhh, enjoy the draft?
It's the mostttttt...wonderful tiiiiiime of the year......