Draft day is upon us! If you think you’re excited, imagine being a projected top-five pick like former Providence point guard Kris Dunn. We interviewed the reigning back-to-back Big East Player of the Year hours before the Draft.
Is there an NBA player you patterned your game after?
I’ve taken a lot from different guards. Because there are so many great guards. John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose. Rajon Rondo. Rajon Rondo, I think he is one of the best point guards in the league. Because he impacts the game without even taking shots or scoring. He’s had games with 20 assists. If that’s not impressive, than I don’t know what is.
Describe the feeling of beating your man off the dribble and attacking the basket, pre-dunk, and you just know you’re going to hammer it home in front of 20,000 people? What’s the feeling like in the moment just before you finish the play?
It’s definitely kind of crazy. Because you don’t know what kind of reaction you’re going to have when you dunk the basketball. And for me, I’m a very emotional payer, so the excitement just comes out of me. It’s not like I’m trying to do it; it just happens. The adrenalin is just pumping so fast, the excitement of it. When you see the crowd is into it, it brings a whole different person out of you. I think that’s the most exciting part of basketball – when the crowd is involved and is feeding that energy, it brings out a different player in me.
Where does your enthusiasm – some people call it aggression, but I don’t think that’s accurate – come from? Is there a single moment you can think back to that stoked that fire in you?
I think it’s a factor of a lot of things. You can look into my background, who I am as a person. I just want to be the best I can be. And that’s part of the competitor in me as well. I try to be the best player on the floor every night. That’s what makes me so emotional. If I make a mistake, I get really upset because I know I’m better than that.
Would you rather take someone to the cup and dunk on them or hit a step back three?
I would definitely want to dunk on them – definitely. If anyone had a choice, I think dunking on somebody is the best option for everybody. Not everyone can dunk on somebody.
Since you declared for the NBA Draft, what’s been the biggest thing or biggest change you’ve noticed in your day to day life?
I think just how much you have to do in one day with the training. In college, you’re probably done with everything within three hours. But with training for the NBA there is a lot more involved. Your nutritionist. Then you have to lift. Then you have to do individual workouts with other players that are in the same facility as you. I think the everyday grind is the biggest change. There’s so much you have to do in a day, but I just think of it all as fun.
As far as the NBA Draft when you were growing up, is there a particular draft you remember watching as a kid?
Not specifically. But one of the coolest drafts that I liked was when coach Calipari had five of his players drafted in the first round. It just showed how much they worked as a team. I thought that was really cool.
Have you been paying attention to the rumors as the draft gets nearer?
The rumors definitely come back to me. But I try not to pay attention to it. There’s so much going on – anything can happen. I’m just trying to enjoy the process because you only get it once.
Talk about staying for your senior year. What did you develop the most?
Definitely my jump shot. I put a lot of work into that over the summer. I really believe that I improved and have the confidence to shoot the ball. And this year, I think I showed it. I hit a lot of big shots and I think it shows how confident I am in my own game.
How much of that decision was based on proving you could stay healthy after a couple injuries early in your career?
No, that really didn’t factor into it at all. I felt confident in my shoulders. I am 100% healthy.
What’s your favorite moment or signature play in your career?
I would have to say against St. John’s in the Big East Tournament, the alley-oop to me. You could just see and you could just feel the energy in the building that day. We put a stamp on that game to let the league know that we were here and we weren’t messing around. That would be my signature play. But if I had a signature moment, it would be moving past first round of NCAA Tournament. That was our team goal.
What does being named Big East Player of the Year the last two seasons mean to you?
It was a blessing to be back-to-back. I appreciate all the coaches in the Big East. I appreciate the people who supported me. I had great teams, so they made me better. Having all those guys around me, in my life for the past few years. It wasn’t really an expectation, but I went out to try and play the best that I can. If you lock onto your individual goals, you’ll start to lose sight of the team and winning, and start worrying about yourself. Then you become a selfish player. I have to thank the Big East, my teammates and my coaching staff.
What are you going to wear to the NBA Draft?
I’m going to go with a classic look. I like to dress nice, but I definitely don’t want to be too loud. I want to represent my family
Why are you able to be so effective on defense as far as disrupting passing lanes?
I think it’s the football in me. I used to be a football player in high school. And I played defensive back and safety. My strength and speed are good, but my instincts, reading a play before it happens, that comes from football. And that’s a blessing for me. That I could have my defense be my greatest strength. I may not be having my best offensive game, but I’ll always play great defense.
What’s it like to work with Coach #Speedman and Speed Stick?
It was exciting – he made it very easy. He just told us to be relaxed and confident. And to just have fun with it – I think that was the most important part. The whole cast was great and made a really comfortable environment.
Coach Speedman looks like he’s kinda ripped. Is he a strong guy?
Ha, yeah! He actually says he works out a lot. He’s big on sports.
How tall is he?
A little shorter than me – probably like 6’2″?
Could you take him down to the low block and have your way with him?
Ha ha! I think I could! He might get a little more physical down there though.
He’s probably got no left hand, so you got ‘em!