words & images_Zac Dubasik
The final player in our series of incoming college freshman interviews may be the most exciting (and best) Duke recruit in recent memory. This week's draft will see plenty of one-and-done players chosen near the top, something you never expect from Blue Devils players. If Irving lives up to his potential next season though, and chooses to make a quick exit to the NBA, don't be surprised to hear his name among the most talked about come draft time in 2011.
High School: St. Patrick High School; Elizabeth, NJ
After averaging 27 points, 7 boards and 7 assists per game in his senior season, Kyrie Irving was viewed by many as the top point guard of the 2010 class. After seeing his spectacular performance at the Jordan Brand Classic, where he was named co-MVP, it only strengthened his case for that claim.� His play was so impressive that it only seems right that he would be heading to join the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils next season. Sole Collector was able to catch up with Irving to talk kicks, college and about his time at the JBC.
Zac Dubasik: How did you first learn that you’d been chosen to be part of the Jordan Brand Classic?
Kyrie Irving: My father told me. Someone told him, so he found out before I found out. But once I found out, I was happy.
Are tournaments like this something you thought about during your senior season?
From the beginning of the season – like H. White talked about, writing down your goals – I had a goal list from my freshman season all the way up until now. This was one of the goals I wanted to attain at the end of the season.
How does this game compare to the other national games you played in?[Irving also competed in the McDonalds All-American game and Nike Hoop Summit] This one is so special, because this is the last game of my high school career. This is very special for me, and especially to experience it with all these guys here – they are all great guys. We all have so much fun because we all get along together. That’s very special to me and to be picked for this game is an honor.
So have you actually known a lot of these players from prior to this game?
I know all of them – I know every personality here. I myself am like one of the leaders here, and everybody has their own personality. And we are all special in our own way.
When did you make the decision to go to Duke?
I decided last October. I committed on ESPNU. And once I chose Duke, that felt like the best decision of my life.
What’s it like to play your senior season already knowing you’ve made it to such a big school at the next level? When you’ve already made it like that, what keeps you motivated?
Personally, for me, I’m self-motivated. You always want better for yourself. There’s always someone working, so you have to keep that in mind. Everybody here is trying to make it, so what are you going to do to separate yourself from everybody? That’s something I take into account all the time – just to separate myself. Whether it’s getting up at 6am taking shots early, or working out after practice, or getting those extra shots up. Not everybody is going to do it. Greatness isn’t for everybody.
Do you have any expectations for your first season in college? You know, my expectations are probably exceeded by Coach K’s. Coach K probably expects more than I expect for myself. I plan on making him happy, but also making myself happy. The next level is going to be very difficult in the beginning, and I’m going to have some trial and errors. I’m just going to get back up and continue to grow. That’s what it’s all about.
Are there any big changes you are expecting as you transition from the high school to college game?
Everybody talks about the pace of the game, but the thing most people don’t talk about is time management. That’s the most important thing in college. No one is there to tell you to make your bed or do your homework. So time management and being disciplined is one of the most important things for adjusting to college.
Have you been a Jordan Brand fan for a long time?
Jordan Brand is my favorite sneaker. Come to my house – I am a shoe collector, and I have most of the Jordans.
Do you have a favorite Jordan?
I like the XIs. I like the all white XIs, the grey XIs, the original ones. And the Space Jams. The Space Jams are the hardest ones to find. I still can’t find them. But I have the grey ones, white ones and the all black ones with the red bottoms. But I can’t find the Space Jams.
Are you constantly on the lookout for new sneakers?
Definitely. I’m always looking for a new pair of sneakers, either to give as a gift to someone or for myself.
Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to about this weekend’s game?
Just having fun. This is my last high school event. I’m just relaxed – more relaxed than I was at the McDonalds game or the Hoop Summit. I’m at home basically. I live right over the bridge, so this is my home, and I’m gonna end it right.