BDN's Andrew Slater was on the scene during the Boost Mobile Elite 24 this weekend, where he caught up with Blue Devil target Kyrie Irving for another in detailed depth interview. Join BDN Premium for full site access and be in the know.
After a morning of community service in the Bronx, the twenty-four players in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 were bussed to The Sports Club/LA on the east side of Manhattan, where they began what was referred to as a training and combine session.
The staff initially had the players separate into 24 various stations designed to work different aspects of strength and conditioning. The stations included boxing, pulling a tire with a rope, lateral platform jumping exercises, etc. After the players went through the various stations, they divided the kids into four groups and measured them, in terms of their standing and running vertical leap, the number of repetitions they could lift in a row with two dumbbells of moderate weight, and how fast they could run the entire court, both with and without dribbling a basketball.
The players then were taken to another gym in the same facility to have a Question and Answer session with a panel of Peter Vecsey , Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Kevin Love, Brandon Jennings, and Tyreke Evans. The Q and A was moderated by Chris Broussard.
Vecsey tried to lecture the kids on the history of the tournament and the players that had graced the court before them. Love talked about his experience at the inaugural game, the transition to both the college and pro game, and pointed out the number of players that have reached the NBA as well as the others that will follow from the initial game. Jennings talked about his year abroad in Italy, while making notice of his relative success, the difficulty of coming off of the bench, and the women. Evans attempted to communicate his thoughts on his transition from shooting guard to point guard at the University of Memphis. Rampage said he liked the WWF, while growing up in Memphis, and therefore tried to do wrestling in high school. He mentioned that he loved to fight as a kid, but cautioned the kids that you can’t always walk around looking for a fight as an adult.
Following this session, the kids broke into their two predetermined teams and began a competitive scrimmage, as a means of practicing for the following evening at Rucker Park in Harlem. Roscoe Smith, a Duke recruit from Baltimore, swished a three-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining to give his team the win, 99-98. Subsequently, the twenty-four prospects broke into separate areas of the court for individual interview sessions.
Kyrie Irving, the smooth and pensive New Jersey guard, spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a variety of issues, including his goals for the upcoming year, the decision process that went into his recent trimming of teams to a far more manageable six, his relationship with Harrison Barnes, what he will be looking for on his official visits, and the utility of Twitter, amongst others.
I’m going to assume that you already have decided upon your five schools… [private]
My six schools.
Six schools and you should save them for your ever growing Twitter audience, but can you talk about the decision process?
Yeah, yeah. I’m going to save them for tomorrow, even though some people around here have been pressuring me to get it.
No pressure here ..
I'm not talking about you, but others.
Can you talk about your decision process?
Yeah, sure. It took a while. Me and my father sat down, along with my uncle..
That was going to be another question.
Yeah, you know we sat down and we evaluated each school. We were going through, well, who had the best to offer. That’s what came down to my six schools that I’m going to announce tomorrow.
Sure, what were the factors that most contributed to your final six?
Family atmosphere, the academics, the academic stature
So, academics were actually important to you?
Oh, yeah, of course.
Because there are always a lot of people, fans included, that are skeptical when they read that kids are actually interested in academics. Personally, I always try to keep an open mind and treat everyone as an individual case. I assumed you were, but I didn’t know for sure.
No, no, no. Me, as a person, I have…
I knew you did well in school.
Exactly, I have a 3.5 GPA, but people don’t really know that because…
No, I knew that number because you mentioned in an earlier interview.
Yeah, I don’t really talk about it that much.
I guess they’re not that concerned with your off-the-court life.
(Player dunks over small publicist to our immediate right)
So… family atmosphere, academics
Yeah, family atmosphere, academics, and just how comfortable I am with the coaching staff and just everybody coach wise because when I see the school, it’s going to be where I’m not signing with them for four years, I’m signing with them for a long time.
A long lifetime, God willing. Who did you ultimately seek input from? Well, I guess you answered that one.
Yeah, my father and my uncle. They’ve been there throughout.
Was it a family/group decision or much more of a personal one?
It was more of a personal one I would say.
By the way, was your sister involved in the decision at all too?
No, no way. It was more of a personal decision because I talk to most of the schools. They call me all of the time. Yeah, it was more of a personal one.
Other than “a home away from home,” as you’ve mentioned in the past, what will you be looking for on your official visits?
I’m just going to be evaluating everything. Just when I step on the campus..
Anything specific or more of a feel?
It’ll be more of a feel. Just how comfortable I am, how the players interact with the coaches and how the players interact with themselves. Just everything about them. I’m going to evaluate.
But I’d say mainly with the coaching staff and the players. That’s it.
Well, they’re going to be the ones that you’re going to be spending most of your time with. Having been a kid that was under-recruited at Montclair Kimberley, how has the reality of the process or experience been, compared to what you expected a top-ranked player to have? Now that you’ve seen the other side, is it kind of what you expected or is it more?
Let’s say last summer versus now, when the “gurus” have discovered you and you’ve shot up the charts. I’ve got to say I’m really proud of you.
Thanks, man. I have to say it’s been great. Especially this time last summer, I was really barely even known. Having the opportunity, you know, to be a top ten or whatever they say I am now, I feel like I don’t want to let them take that away. I feel like I have to kind of step back and just..
Was it what you thought it would be like?
(laughing) It’s even a little bit more.
Yeah, it makes me really happy and I’m proud to be a top ten player because I worked hard all summer.
Yeah, you did. Is your family enjoying your success?
Yeah, no, they definitely are. My family has been there since I was just a little kid playing in my backyard. It’s just been great. I’ve just enjoyed this whole entire summer.
That’s great that you are all enjoying it. To clarify and potentially squash some concerns, there was a video interview that you did in Portland with Selby and he was strongly hinting that Indiana was going to be your choice. Did he know something or was he just purely speculating?
(laughing) No, no, he was just joking around.
Yeah, I wanted you to touch on that because a video like that can cause people to panic. (laughing)
No, that was nothing.
Of all things that you accomplished this year, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud of everything. I can’t name a specific thing because there have been so many moments, particularly this summer. It started off when, well, it actually started when I went to…well, it was a learning experience for me when I was at the NBA Camp. That was the first time I came to a camp and there were so many top players there. It wasn’t like there was one player that wasn’t any good. That was definitely an eye-opener. It made me even hungrier.
As you often write, “humble and hungry”
Yeah, exactly, the two “H”s that I live by. It just made me humble and hungry to just go out there and destroy the whole AAU circuit.
What’s your relationship like with Harrison Barnes? Can you provide a scouting report? I saw you two sitting together.
(laughing) Oh, yeah, well, I mean he calls me his “little brother,” but I..
Yeah, I don’t know, but I’m close with him. We developed a relationship over the summer. It started at NBA Camp. We don’t really discuss Duke to a large extent, but we do discuss it and we have a very good relationship.
So there’s definitely a connection between you two..
Oh, yeah, definitely.
What are your goals and hopes for the next twelve months? McDonald’s All-American? Repeat as state champions?
Those are personal goals, but, as a team, the national championship and the state championship. Before every season, well, you know, even before every summer, I always set goals. On a personal level, I want to make the Jordan Classic and do all of those all-star games. On a team level, I need to continue to develop my leadership and do the intangibles that my team needs, which will hopefully prepare me for college.
You apparently played very well in both Orlando and Portland for the USA team at the end of the summer. Do you feel that the workouts that you put in and endlessly write about are starting to pay the major dividends that you‘ve hoped for? When other guys are breaking down or getting worn out…
Yeah, well, my father had to like beg me to take a break. For some reason, it’s just a mental thing with me, but I just can’t take breaks. I just can’t. I still have that feeling that if and when I take a break, that’s when other people will start to work harder than me. So, I barely take breaks and it really takes a toll. My body is hurting right now.
In your writing, there’s always a series of cycles, where you initially do lengthy, intense workouts, then play in tournaments where you carry a heavy burden and play a lot of competitive games in a short period of time, and finally there are periods where you crash and “chill.” Is it a matter of trial and error with knowing when to push your body or is it more a matter of planning and scheduling?
No, I don’t schedule it. It got to a point, earlier in the summer, where I wouldn’t even know what or where games or tournaments were. I would just go. It really takes a toll on my body, but, after a while, you kind of get used to it. You know, towards the end of the summer, you start taking a lot of breaks and you get ready for the high school season.
Ideally, what would you like to do with your body to further enhance your overall game? Strength? Cardio?
My strength. My cardio is fine.
You can run all day.
Yeah, I can, but, when it gets to, like, that third or fourth game, then you have to deal with the players that are bigger and stronger than you…
Especially when you have to bear a heavy burden with Roadrunners.
Yeah, it is, but I really don’t want to talk about them or that right now (laughing)
Well, I mean people, who have watched you on that team, can judge for themselves.
Yeah, I don’t want to go there right now.
Being an articulate, consensus top ten recruit, can you shed some light as to what the mindset is like for an elite-level recruit, as you enter your senior year? What are some different things that are on your mind, when you have quiet moments? If you can allow the audience to live vicariously through you.. (Doron Lamb, a Queens guard that currently plays for Oak Hill, comes next to us and is looking for attention)
Well, I don’t really plan anything, you know, when I’m by myself, I’m kind of a laid-back kid. I like to joke around too, but, um, stop. No stop, man. (Lamb has his arm around Kyrie’s neck)
Hi, I’m Doron Lamb. (sticks out his hand for a shake)
Yeah, I know who you are. How’re you doing, Doron?
KI: I just trying to be a normal kid because you know coming to all of these events they, well, try to treat you like you’re a pro already. (Lamb slaps both of us on the rear end and moves along)
Can you talk about your mentality as you prepare to play at the Rucker and the GOAT? Are you definitely going to be at the GOAT on Saturday night?
Yep, I’m going to play in that. My mentality tomorrow night is going to be…
Are you looking to pick your spots? Showcase? Go in with an open mind and have fun?
Well, you can tell that people are going to be putting up shots and that there are no positions out here. People are going to be looking for theirs. I’m not going to stress out over it or anything.
No, no, don’t.
People are trying to, well, it’s a whole political thing.
Are people really stressing a little bit?
Yeah, behind the scenes, they are a little bit, but they shouldn’t.
Whether on the Roadrunners or the Celtics, do you ever look to try to help your teammates out, in terms of generating scholarships or offering advice?
On the Celtics?
Yeah, when I play with the NJ Celtics, I think it benefited some of the players on the team because, you know, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but a lot of college coaches came to see me play so..
That’s my point. There’s an opportunity to be generous and some guys, who already have all the scholarships they need, won’t.
Yeah, especially on the Roadrunners too.
Absolutely, but also on the Celtics, for example, I know towards the end of the high school season that Kevin Boyle’s son didn’t have any Division One scholarship offers.
No , he didn’t.
God knows if he does now, but..
Yeah, exactly, but then when we play Team Final,
Right, right, he goes for almost thirty.
Yeah, in front of everybody there that day
Can you talk about Twitter and its usefulness in trying to get your messages out there?
It’s just a way to update people on what’s going on in my life and in my mind.
It’s acting as a virtual megaphone to get your words to a mass audience that‘s interested in what you have to say.
Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.
This may be the last time I speak with you and I always try to be objective, but you’ve become my guy and I just wanted to thank you for your help with the interviews and wish you the best of luck in the future.
Oh, no, no, thanks. Thanks a lot, man. [/private]