Standing close to 6-3, Duke prospect Rasheed Sulaimon is often referred to as silky smooth, versatile and a throwback player to days gone by. Sulaimon possesses the rare mid-range game which most kids no longer work on in this day and time, and the major schools are starting to recruit him hard. Sulaimon sat down for an in-depth interview with Blue Devil Nation where he states that he grew up a Duke fan and that he is more than just a little excited to be visiting Countdown to Craziness on October 15th. Sulaimon opened up in the interview and that allows you to get a really good feel for his character and thought process on the recruiting front. He spoke of Kansas and a recent visit to Texas and, well, you’ll have to subscribe to BDN Premium to read a very interesting interview you are sure to be pleased with.
Suppose that the audience has never seen you play. Can you describe your game in your own words?
I would describe myself as a competitor. Every time get on the court I play hard and 100% offensively and defensively and have one common goal and that’s to win. So, whatever it takes for my team to win I do. I like to create for myself on offense but am always looking for teammates and I like playing defense.
And your go to move would be?
Yes, I really like the pull up jumper, so my mid range game is my strength.
So, you are a bit of a throw back player. Do you feel that sets you apart from other prospects?
Yes, I believe so because now days the mid range shot is a lost art. Everybody just wants to be three point shooters and slashers. I do like to mix it up because I can shoot the three but if you cut me off going to the rim I have that mid range game to fall back on and those are high percentage shots that are hard to [private] stop.
What are your goals with concern to basketball?
My goal right now for highs school is to win the state championship and be a leader, but down the road I want to go to a great division one college that has great academics and basketball. If I’m blessed enough, I will one day make it to the NBA.
Did you have a dream school growing up?
I was sort of a Duke fan.
Do you pattern your game after any particular players in the pro or college game?
I like Kobe Bryant and watch a lot of his games where I try and, well, you know, it’s kind of hard to emulate him, but I try to pick up what I can there. I like the way he goes to the rim.
So you are a big Lakers fan?
Yes, I like the Lakers.
Now, you recently visited Texas. Can you tell me how that visit went?
The visit went great and I met with big people down there like the Athletic Director, the president of the school and academic advisers. I was there with my family and we got a chance to see what Texas was all about and developed a better relationship with the coaches and the players, going to a football game and overall is was great.
Have you had any other unofficial visits in the past or recently?
Yes, I went to Texas A & m, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. I have been to Baylor also and I will be going to Duke on October 15th.
So you will be going to Countdown to Craziness. Are you excited about that?
Oh, yes sir, I am excited about it. I just want see historic Cameron [Indoor Stadium] and how loud it gets.
Speaking of Duke, let me ask you about ACC schools for those are the ones I normally cover. Have any other ACC schools been in contact with you besides them.
Yes, I have been contacted by Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Boston College and Virginia Tech.
Out of these schools which do you have the most interest in?
Who do I have the most interest in out of those schools? Well, I like Georgia Tech and North Carolina out of those schools … including Duke.
Are you planning on taking visits to those schools as well?
Um, as of yet I do not have anything planned but I will likely visit those schools.
Do you have a timeline for the process and making a decision?
As of now I am just talking with my family, so we’ll make a decision when it feels right.
Will your parents be most influential in your decision or will you talk to coaches or others for input?
My parents will be most influential in my decision and also my high school coach Wayne Jones who has been a mentor in my life. Those are the main people I will share and make my decision with.
Do you enjoy the recruiting process?
Yes sir, it is really an inspiration to have so many great coaches call and want to talk to me, so I am really enjoying the process.
Back to Duke, who have you been talking with from there?
I first got contact from Duke from Nate James and we’ve developed a really good relationship through calls or messaging and he’s been to my school once to see me. And then Coach Wojo came to my school this past Monday.
I guess you’re looking forward to meeting Coach K next week?
Oh, yes sir. I talked to him on the phone about two weeks ago and I was very excited to speak with him and he said he couldn’t wait for me to come down there and meet, so that really made my day.
If you visited say a North Carolina or Duke and they just blew you away, would you think about committing with somebody early? What kind of school do you like and what kind of feeling do you need to have from a school to know you want to go there?
Well, if I take a great liking to a school I will greatly consider them and a committment, but like the trip to Duke, I’ll be going there by myself. The school I want to commit to I want my parents to consider as well. So, I don’t want to do it before my parents can see the campus and develop a relationship with the coaches.
You will have five official visits, do you think you will take all of those?
Right now, I’d say yes, but that might change in the future.
What are you like off the court … tell me a little about yourself as a person?
Well, I take my academics seriously and have a 3.71 GPA. Off the court, I just like hanging out but when I am free I generally work out and try to get better at my game.
Have you thought about what you might like to take in school?
Yes, possibly business or business management, but we’ll see.
Can you give me a list of schools that have actually offered?
Yes, UT [Texas], Texas A & M, Baylor, Memphis, Indiana, Oregon State, Arizona, Georgia Tech, um …
So, quite a few?
Yes sir. I am sure I left out a few.
And there are several schools showing interest …
Oh yes. Kansas has been showing a lot of interest. Coach Dooley and Coach Manning have been visited me this year and Coach Self is going to make it down to see me practice. I’ve been hearing a lot from Kansas, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Stanford and also got an offer from Stanford or will be accepted if I apply.
How do you handle so many heavy hitters now getting involved in the process?
Well, I see it as a blessing and I just have to remain humble and keep working on my game for them to keep showing interest in me. It’s challenging because you don’t want to get big headed, but just being around my family keeps me grounded. I just keep working because I haven’t done anything yet. I am just a high school basketball player trying to make a name for myself.
When did you first learn your basketball skills?
I have been playing this game since I was two, shooting on the little Fisher Price goals. When I was four that was the first time I played organized basketball with six year olds. I work out with my Dad and in the fourth grade I started to working out with a trainer and he is still with me.
Wow! That’s a long time and some serious work. So, your Dad kind of taught you your skill set?
He’s kind of like a rebounder when I put up a lot of shots.
Did he play basketball?
No, he actually played soccer but he was a very big basketball fan. He’s from Nigeria so when he came here to the states he started taking an interest in basketball.
I see. Nigeria has produced a lot of really good soccer players at the college level and beyond here.
He came here in the eighties and lived in New York but we moved down here to Houston. He likes the Knicks.
So, there is no real time table at this point?
Yes sir, I feel like I might make a decision about this time next year, my senior year.
Tell me a bit about your high school team and the coming season.
Two years ago we had a really good team and lost in the state semi finals and last year we made a big strong push in the playoffs and fell just short of going to state. From that team we lost three guys, so we’ll have some experience this year after being very young a year ago. We’ll have to work hard. Our only disadvantage this year will be our height but we have a lot of guards who can shoot and defend.
Will you be forced to play more in the paint?
I’m still going to play the one and the two but on defense I will probably have to be on the block on zone, so I will be called on to rebound more this year.
What position do you see yourself playing in college?
Uh, you know, I just see myself as a good combo guard because I feel comfortable playing the point or off guard spot. Whatever position a coach wants me to play, I’ll feel comfortable playing.
You said you were in a tournament the other night the other night, right?
Yes, actually there is an article on the event on ESPN, an article by John Stovall I think? It was called the Super 16 Extravaganza.
I appreciate your time and we’ll check back in with you down the road. You sound like a really good kid, grounded, talented and wherever you ultimately decide to go to school, I am sure you’ll succeed.
Well, thank you sir, I really appreciate that and I hope you have a good night.
The bottom line - In my opinion Duke has the inside track on Sulaimon early on and if the visit to CTC blows him away – and it likely will – I would not be surprised if his parents didn’t make a return trip in short time if he is offered. The mere fact that Wojo went to see him after James might be Coach K’s way of seeking more input and approval. I am not privy to what Wojo saw, but Coach K did make the call and this a player they are seriously considering. He is often compared to Daniel Ewing and I have only beamed in on his game three times on the AAU circuit. That said, I do not feel I can give you a solid take in that you are all aware of my five view rule before making a strong analysis. In short, I like to see a prospect play in a variety of situations, fresh, tired and such. Sulaimon will follow up with BDN after his visit and we’ll have an even better idea of what Krzyzewski thinks of the young, high character prospect. Some might call him a good program kid, but his work ethic could make him much more than that. Sulaimon beamed when talking about Duke and I approached him as Sports Nation Network in order to get straight answers, but I did tip my hand and tell him the interview would go on a Duke site once finished. It’ll be fun to watch and see how this one develops and we’ll keep you informed along the way. Also, FTR, his name is pronounced as it looks “sul – lay – mon.”[/private]