As we enter the final evaluation period this weekend, all of the nation’s top prospects will try their best to impress their suitors one more time. College coaches will be wearing bold shirts sitting front and center to try to catch the eye of their potential future stars.
Last weekend, the Under Armour Association's “The Finals” tipped off in the Atlanta suburb of Suwanee. The event brought some of the best prospects in the country including ESPN Top 10 center Diamond Stone (No. 4 overall) and small forward Jaylen Brown (No. 8 overall). I sat down with both to get to know them better find out where their minds are at during this crucial juncture.
If you were a college coach what would you tell yourself to work on?
DS: One aspect I would tell myself to focus on would be perimeter defense, especially in Pick N’ Roll situations. I am consistently out on the perimeter defending those type of plays and must continue to get better laterally.
JB: I feel like I have many aspects of my game to improve upon. I am focusing consistently on defensive principles, not just on the ball. My shot has improved but still not where I want it to be yet. Conditioning is also a big focus for me; I feel like it could always be better. The better conditioning you have the better you can sustain an elite level of play.
If you could recruit one player besides yourself, who in the class would you recruit?
DS: I would put my focus on Malik Newman, he’s a great leader who does whatever it takes to win games. He’s a guard that will pass to make his teammates better, which means he would get me the ball.
JB: I’d pick Ben Simmons [LSU Commit], he can do it all. Has great size, distributes the ball, can score it and defends.
Do you have any rituals to get ready for games?
DS: I like to stay quiet and usually separate myself from my team to focus. I try to disconnect from distractions. I turn off my cell phone and turn on some music. Right now it is Meek Mill and 2 Chainz.
JB: I really don’t have any pregame rituals. I always pray that I stay injury free. As far as getting hyped just being on the floor does that, I really love this game.
Who in the NBA past or present do you like to watch and try to learn from?
DS: From the past I enjoy watching Wilt Chamberlin because of his aggressiveness and ability to overpower his opponent. The current player I really try to watch is DeMarcus Cousins, his overall skill set and footwork is something I like to try to add to my game.
JB: I watch multiple guys and try to take different parts of their games. From Kobe I study his jab step, how he creates space. I love watching Michael Jordan’s efficiency, he never wasted any movement. KD’s footwork is always something I focus on offensively. I also love watching LeBron James' explosive play and ability to pass with his size.
One word that describes you ...
DS: Laid back ... Usually I let my game do the talking, and when I am off the court I like to hang in my room and watch TV.
JB: Undescribable ... I am not trying to sound cocky. I just see myself as a multi-layered person.
Whose the toughest player you have faced this summer?
DS: It has to be Elijah Thomas (No. 9 ESPN Top 100), we are both so strong and battle against each other. It is a grind for either one of us to score when we match-up.
JB: The toughest guy I have matched up with is Brandon Ingram. Brandon is such a great scorer you have to be locked in defensively every second of the game.
If you could meet one celebrity who would it be?
DS: I would want to meet DeMarcus Cousins and pick his mind on everything he has learned from the game.
JB: I know he’s not a Hollywood type celeb, but I would love to meet President Obama. I just think it would be great to meet the President.
What are the most important factors in choosing where you will play in college?
DS: Playing for a great coach is the most important factor. I want good team chemistry and I want to win!
JB: There are many factors important to me in deciding where I will play. I first of all need to feel comfortable and part of a family. I want a place that even if the coach left I would still want to be there. I also have academic standards and need to know that I will be challenged.
With the recent decision of Emmanuel Mudiay's to play overseas instead of attending SMU, would you consider it an option for you?
DS: No way. I really want to play in college, and couldn’t see myself being that far away from my family and friends.
JB: I would consider it, but I have always wanted to play in college, so it’s not something I could see for myself. I am interested to see how it works out for him.
How do you define success for yourself?
DS: Success to me is when hard work meets achievement.
JB: Success means being happy in what you do, not feeling stuck. My mom always has told me if you’re passionate about what you do you will never feel like you worked a day in your life.