Note: this interview was done before the start of the NBA D-League Elite Mini Camp which began on Monday, May 8th, 2017
Alfonzo McKinnie’s journey to professional basketball is one many players go through. McKinnie wasn’t a top high school recruit and wasn’t even recruited that much, but that didn’t stop McKinnie from chasing the dream. McKinnie went to play college basketball at Eastern Illinois, and then transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. At UW-Green Bay, McKinnie worked his way from being a relative unknown to a solid role player during his career. Within that final year, McKinnie averaged 8 points and 5.3 rebounds on 45% from the field in only 21.6 minutes per game.
McKinnie’s college career was done, and the possibility of his basketball career as well. However, an opportunity came and McKinnie went to Luxembourg to play professional basketball. After a season in Luxembourg he went to Mexico to play basketball, and once again had another successful season.
Following two seasons playing basketball abroad, the time was now for McKinnie to set his sights on the NBA. And, that is exactly what he did, as he made the first step by paying 175 dollar tryout, which resulted in McKinnie making the Windy City Bulls.
In one season in the D-League, McKinnie went from virtual unknown to all-star as he finished the season averaging 14.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in 30.5 minutes per game. That success has allowed him now being able to participate in the D-League Elite Mini-Camp.
Cole Shelton: You had an incredible year, from a local tryout to a D-League All-Star. How do you think your season went?
Alfonzo McKinnie: Overall, I think I had a pretty solid season. Averaging almost a double double, having a solid showcase performance and being selected to the all-star team. I went from a player no one really knew to a player that gained a lot of people’s attention.
CS: What were you most looking forward to in playing in the D-League?
AM: I was really looking forward to being able to be at home and getting the chance to play in front of all my family and friends. I also looked forward to just going out and trying to put myself on the radar.
CS: The Elite Minicamp is here, what do you want to come from this?
AM: The ultimate goal for me is to go get signed once free agency starts so I want to go Into minicamp with the mindset that I'm playing to get signed.
CS: What is something in your game you would like to improve on that would get you to the NBA?
AM: Me personally, I would like to improve on my overall perimeter skills. I think that would help my chances more of making it to the NBA.
CS: On the following what is something in your game that will get you to the NBA?
AM: I think my energy level and my activeness on the court is something that will play a big part in me getting to the NBA. I also think me being able to switch off and guard multiple positions will play a role in me getting to the NBA as well.
CS: What are your thoughts on the new 2-way contracts?
AM: I think the new 2 way contracts is good opportunity for players to make their way on to someone's roster for the season. You get to play both D-League and NBA games. Develop while playing in the D-League and you also get the chance to gain some experience at the NBA level. On top of that you get a little bit more money.
CS: What is something the D-League has to do, to keep and attract talent?
AM: In my opinion, if they boosted the salary in general there would be more players that would be attracted to the D-League. A lot of players choose to go overseas mainly because of the financials.
CS: How did you find out that you got an invite to the elite mini-camp?
AM: I received word from my agent that I was being invited to the camp. I also received a invitation via email about the Elite Camp.
CS: And, then what was your reaction to finding out the news.
AM: I was kinda excited about receiving the invitation. Excited because the elite mini camp is just another opportunity for me to showcase my talent in front of various teams.