By Rahul Lal
The NBA Draft quickly approaching (Thursday, June 23rd), and organizations will be looking for that missing piece to help them bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy. Fans’ anticipation is sky-high.
JR spoke with two players who expect to hear their names called very early Thursday night: Brandon Ingram and Kris Dunn.
One is former Duke star and likely number two pick: Brandon Ingram. Ingram spoke on how he plans to stay on the ride side of the headlines in this week filled with jitters. How had he been advised to deal with today’s social media age?
“Integrity; doing the right thing when no one is looking and knowing that someone is always looking,” said Ingram. He added in that it is important for him to “stay low-key.”
Ingram’s experience at Duke with Hall of Fame basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski gave him a great foundation and “made [him] a better person.” Ingram felt that his experience improved his work ethic, that he is always improving as a player.
For a prospect as humble as Ingram, being drafted means more than just a new chapter. It’s a chance to show his community that “hard work pays off” and that dreams do come true.
“I’m selling the dream for everyone else, these little kids in my hometown and telling them they can do the same thing,” said Ingram. “Don’t listen to everybody. Keep dreaming and just know that one day your dreams will come true if you put the hard work and dedication into it.”
Providence senior Kris Dunn, one of the top point guards in the draft, also faced plenty of uphill battles. Like Ingram, he never lost sight of what is truly important in this whole process. Talking about the draft process up to this point, Dunn responded:
“Phenomenal. I’m just enjoying the process. The biggest thing for me is I want my family to enjoy it.”
But the process is changing his view of the NBA, and bringing about a new approach to his career.
“I didn’t understand how much of a business it is and how much time you’ve got to put in; it’s a nine to five,” said Dunn. As he put it, the biggest thing for Dunn is to “take care of [my] body and bring that attitude every day for that NBA grind.”
Comparisons are always drawn during the draft process and Dunn expanded on what an NBA team would get when they draft him.
“They’re going to get a dog; someone who’s coming in to work and someone who’s not afraid of anyone.”
In an age when many top players only stay one year in college, finding players like Dunn who chose to stay an extra year to secure his degree is a rarity.
“I know a lot of kids who wish they could run off to college and so I try to get an education and really show kids where we come from that you really got the chance to make it out,” said Dunn. “There are other guys who want to be in my shoes… I try to take advantage”
Dunn is trying to to be more than a basketball player — Dunn wants to be an example and role model for those growing up in situations similar to his.
“I have two sisters going to high school, I want to be a role model. I want my family to set the standard that graduating [from college] should be a normal.”
When asked how he best plans to capture the moment on draft night and beyond, Dunn showed a grounding that will serve him well in his career.
“I came from poverty; I’ve been through so much adversity at this point. I can’t get too hot on stuff because I know what the low feels like. I have a great support system that keeps me humble.”
Listen to the full interview, covering these topics and more, on the latest episode of JR’s podcast, JR Sport Brief.
Rahul Lal is an LA native stuck in a lifelong, love-hate relationship with the Lakers, Dodgers and Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter here.