Rising sophomore Rodney Purvis is a 6’3″ 185 lb guard, who is scheduled to play for Upper Room Christian Academy, a parochial school that runs through the tenth grade, in his native Raleigh. Due to proximity, their friendship, short memories, or relative talent, Purvis has been compared by a few to recent number one draft pick and fellow Raleigh product, John Wall. Last month, the very bubbly and social Purvis, who has demonstrated a preternatural ability to slash to the basket, spoke with Blue Devil Nation and others about his relationship with the aforementioned Wall, Duke’s interest, and whether his childhood favorite in Chapel Hill was still his favorite, amongst other topics.
How did it feel to be the only rising sophomore invited to the LeBron James Academy?
Oh, it was an honor to be there. Being able to compete made it even better.
What did you learn, between the skills drills and the games?
Just competing, for the most part. You can see why guys deserved to be there.
In terms of recruiting, which schools are coming after you hardest right now?
Kentucky, Louisville, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Xavier, and UNC and Duke
Have any of those schools formally offered you yet?
Yes, [private] Virginia offered, Georgia Tech offered, North Carolina Central offered, Xavier and Virginia Tech offered. Oh, and Wake offered.
It seems so early, but are these programs recruiting you as a combo guard? Point guard?
Yes, sir, they’re almost all recruiting me a combo guard at this point.
In the backcourt, all things being equal, where do you prefer to play?
Point guard, yeah, I’d have to say point guard at this point.
I know UNC was supposed to be, at least, your childhood favorite. Is that still the case?
Yes, they’re still one of my favorites. It’s just a great school. They’ve got a great history and it’s about twenty minutes from my house. My family could come and watch me play.
[Jerry Tipton] John Calipari has developed a reputation of having one and done guards recently. The fact that they’re seriously looking at you at this relatively early an age would indicate that he and his staff, perhaps, view you as being a potential next in line. How do you feel about that?
It means a lot in that everybody wants to be in the NBA and things like that. John Calipari is the kind of guy that can get you there, if you want to go there.
There have been some comparisons between you and John Wall, who you know pretty well, probably because of where you’ve grown up. What do you make of people comparing the two of you?
They shouldn’t. (laughs). There’s really no comparison at all, between me and him.
Is he a hero, if you will, of yours? Someone you admire?
Yes, we grew up together and played on the same team. We’re real close.
Have you played a lot of one-on-one against him?
Oh, yeah, probably over a hundred times and I’ve lost every single time. He’s a fierce competitor. If you’ve got game point, he’s just not going to let you score or anything.
What do you think makes him so hard to check?
Speed. (laughs) It’s just hard to keep him in front, you know. You can back off of him, but he is going to make his jump shots in a one-on-one. The other thing is he’s a good defender with his long arms, you know, so it’s hard to score on him also.
What would you like to take from his game and add to yours?
Probably playing in transition. Watching John..he is so successful in transition. It’s crazy. I’m just trying to watch how he does things, you know, like make the extra pass or hitting open teammates when he’s on the break.
When you come out for the first thing in the morning and see some of the coaching heavyweights out there, like Coaches Krzyzewski, Boeheim, Williams, or Matta, does that have any effect on you? Do you even notice?
Yeah, absolutely, because you see who’s walking in and, perhaps, watching you. One guy I noticed, well, was Coach K. I’m not trying to knock any of the other coaches, but maybe it was just because the light was on him or he caught my eye. I try not to pay too much attention to it because I’m just trying to play well so that I can get noticed by them.
[Kentucky reporter] I know you mentioned before that you’re a combo guard or whatever. Can you talk about, like, I know we’re asking a lot of Kentucky questions, but can you talk about Calipari and the guards he’s developed? Do you see anything in his coaching that, um, helps the point guards out?
Like I said to you before, if you want to get, I mean, if you want to be “one-and-done,” then Kentucky is the place to go. It’s just that simple. They’re the place to go right now, if you want to be a “one-and-done” type of player.
Would you like to be a “one-and-done” player?
Well, it’s something that me and my mom have been talking about a little bit, but we’re so far away that it’s not realistic to even talk about. Playing and improving is all I’m trying to concentrate on now. That’s it.
What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses right now?
Oh, my strengths are getting to the basket and creating for me or my teammates. My weakness is probably my in-between game, like, instead of just going all the way, just pulling up. My body has taken a lot of wear and tear by just going to the basket consistently.
Where do you feel comfortable shooting the ball?
Like at the elbows or the free throw line extended.
[Mike DeCourcy] Is part of the problem with working on your in-between game that every time you get there, you can get all the way to the rim?
Yes, it’s kind of hard to just stop and shoot the jumpsuit, if you’re just used to going to the basket. It’s something, though, that I’ve got to train myself to do.
[Mike DeCourcy] I know it’s a long way off, but do you have a list of schools that are ideal for you? Or ones that you’re thinking about?
Yes, just about every school in the ACC, some schools in the Big East, an SEC school or two, and some Pac-Ten schools.
[Jerry Tipton] With you growing up a North Carolina fan, would you say they were first among equals? Do you know what I mean? That it’ll be harder for you to turn them aside.
Not really, because, once it comes down to it, I’ve got to what’s best for me at that point. If North Carolina isn’t the best situation for me, then I won’t go. It’s as simple as that.
[Jerry Tipton] How much do you think that John Wall might put in a good word for Kentucky? How much does that play into your mind that he was very, very successful? I mean an All-American in his first year.
Yeah, I’m sure he’s putting in a good word or at least I hope he is. I’ve just got to keep working at it to hopefully earn a scholarship offer from Kentucky.
[Jerry Tipton] Why do you think it hasn’t come yet?
Probably because of my age and the grade I’m in
Have you taken any visits yet or do you have any planned for the rest of the summer?
I went up to Kentucky when John first got there because there was a junior All-American camp there and the campus was really nice. It’s just a basketball state. I mean there’s nothing else. No distractions. Just basketball.
Have you visited any of the schools in your area at all in the past?
No, not really.
[Jerry Tipton] Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Marquis Teague is now coming and then Rodney Purvis. Do you put yourself into that line. How does that play on your mind?
Oh, you know, all of those are great players and all have made the NBA, well, except for Marquis Teague, but he’s highly ranked and he’s really good also. Honestly, to just have my name in that category would be great. You know, just having all those great players and point guards.
[Jerry Tipton] Is there pressure with that?
No, there’s no pressure at all. I just try to go out there and focus and play.
Would you be open to Duke as well? I know you mentioned before about being a childhood fan of UNC.
Oh, shoot, yeah. Coach K is a great coach! I’d definitely be open to Duke. Absolutely.
Has Coach Krzyzewski or another Duke coach communicated with you?
Yes, yes, Nate James has spoken with me. Coach James.
How do you feel about being on the road a lot during the summer? Do you like it?
Well, I’ve been on the road a lot, but it’s been great. Just coming out and meeting new people and meeting other great players and talking with new people like you guys has been great.
Have any other players or your teammates been talking with you about attending or encouraging you to go their school?
P.J. does it a lot. Reggie Bullock does it a lot. Oh, yeah, and Marquis Rankin for Virginia Tech has been encouraging me to go their school so, you know, it’s like all of my teammates have been encouraging me to go their school, once they’ve committed. It’s fun though.
Does it just go in one ear and out the other or does some of it stick with you?
Well, I mean it would be great to play with one of my AAU teammates. I mean I think about it, but not a lot.
Are any of them going to be in college by the time you get there?
(laughs) That’s a great question, but I doubt it.
[Jerry Tipton] How close do you live to John Wall?
Ten minutes maybe. Before he left for the NBA summer leagues, I went over to his house and talked with him a little bit about different things.
[Jerry Tipton] How do you think he feels about being the first overall pick?
Right now, he’s overwhelmed. He’s a lucky kid, well, he’s not lucky because he works for everything he got. He’s a local kid from Raleigh, North Carolina, who made it and now his work ethic is going to take him over the top. You know how some guys they’ll come in and not live up to the hype because they don’t want to work and improve. Well, that won’t happen with him. With the amount of work that he put in, he’s going to be successful.
Do you have a similar work ethic?
Oh, yes, absolutely, anytime that I can, I’m in the gym.
Thank you for your time.