Rookie vs. Intern: Brandon Ingram

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C.J. McCollum, Guard / Portland Trail Blazers - The Players' Tribune

What’s up, everybody? I’m interning at The Players’ Tribune this week, and despite what your Twitter comments say, nah — I’m not just fetching coffee. I’m in Photoshop. I’m in Google Docs. I’m out here making content.

Since it’s NBA Draft Week, I invited a few of the top picks to sit down for a relaxed conversation at the TPT offices in New York City. We even let some fans get in on it through the magic of BlueJeans video chat.

Next up is Brandon Ingram from Duke.

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C.J.
He led all ACC freshmen in scoring, rebounds, 3-point percentage, minutes played, and double doubles. He’d be a huge asset to any NBA team. From Duke University, welcome Brandon Ingram.

Brandon
Thanks, C.J.

C.J.
I had a few brief, brief interactions with Coach K. Mainly us beating them in the NCAA Tournament back in 2012. A lot of us aren’t sure of his personality and what he’s like as a coach. What’s it like to play for him, and how has he made you a better player?

Brandon
First off, he’s a very down to earth guy. He was very cool during recruiting visits and selling his program. I just knew it was the right move for me. Coach K, he’s very enthusiastic. At his age, you wouldn’t expect the things that he does day in and day out. He made a big impact on my life and a big impact on my family.

C.J.
Yeah, he’s got a lot of respect from me and the rest of the basketball world. I think he’s going to be stepping down from USA Basketball after this year, and he’s had a heck of a run. But what did he force you to work on? You said before, he pushed you. He was there for you in high school. He would come into games and kind of give you that support. Knowing that you’re gonna go to the NBA, I’m sure he had some things in mind that he wanted you to work on. And what did he force you to work on that you think will translate well?

Brandon
Coach K made me be a leader. I think all year he forced me to be vocal. So just coming in, Grayson and me and Luke were the main scorers, and we didn’t talk much. I mean, we didn’t talk at all. So he told us that in going up to the next level, that’s something that you’re expected to do. You need to lead as much as you can bring a rookie at the next level.

C.J.
I think the vocal leadership is huge. That’s something that translates right away and I think you, obviously get respect from the veterans from your work ethic, but once you show that–being able to talk with hunger.

So the Draft is on Thursday. I have to tell you a story about my Draft experience. I picked out the suit. I had everything in place. I went–had to get me a nice, I’m a watch guy. I like watches. So I picked up this nice watch and he told me I could keep the watch, pay $8,000 later on in life, or I could bring it back the next day. Naturally, me being the cheap guy that I am–I had no salary, I was broke at the time–went out, I enjoyed the post-Draft festivities and returned the watch the next day. Have you gotten your Draft suit yet? And will you get a watch, accessories?

Brandon
I’ve got my Draft suit. Nothing too flashy. I will be wearing a watch, of course.

C.J.
You can never go wrong with a nice watch but–you’re gonna make good money. I hear you could go No. 1 or 2, so you could pay that $8,000 or $200,000, if necessary. Let’s open it up to fan questions. What’s up, Spencer?

Spencer (fan question)
Hey, thanks for doing this, guys. C.J., this question is for you. I know that you’re really into journalism. I was wondering if there was a sports story this year that kind of flew under the radar that caught your interest.

C.J.
Yeah. Great question, Spencer. I think a story I’ve seen most recently would be about 2 months ago, I was in Turkey visiting my brother and I’ve seen a story released about LeBron James and D-Wade’s friendship. And how, obviously they’re not on the same team anymore but they still have the handshake, they still go out to eat together before games. D-Wade went on the record saying that LeBron sleeps at his house sometimes in the same city and vice versa when they’re in Cleveland. So just being able to see that relationship and understanding that they were drafted together in ’03 and played against each other, played with each other, and played against each other again. And it was interesting to see that relationship and how the outsiders reacted to it. Brandon here’s gonna obviously get drafted with some friends. He may not be on their teams. And he’s gonna have a relationship with them so I think it’s gonna be interesting to see people react to it because we all have friends within our agency, within other teams. I thought it was interesting. Next fan. Hello, Alex.

Alex (fan question)
I’m from Portland, C.J., so I’m a huge Trail Blazers fan. My question for you guys is: you’ve got an off day for a road game, how would you spend your time?

C.J.
I’ll go first. He hasn’t had many off days in the NBA yet. For me, I like to sleep so I would probably sleep in and then I would probably get a full body massage because I love massages. I’m a mani-pedi guy, so, I would definitely get a mani-pedi. You gotta really enjoy off days. You don’t get ’em a lot. If Brandon is not familiar with that yet, he will be, because it’s a long season. You gotta take care of your dogs. I see you got no socks on, so. You’re gonna be wearing open-toed sandals, it’s something you need to have.

Brandon
Hahaha. For me, I think, of course, sleep, because it’s what I do most of my day when I’m not playing basketball. But other than that, I like to sketch a little bit, so probably some drawing of my favorite cartoon characters, or my favorite basketball players.

C.J.
Next question. What’s up, Ethan?

Ethan (lil’ fan question)

What advice would you give someone my age, 12, that loves basketball and wants to maximize his ability?

C.J.
Ethan, that was a–did you make up that question on your own? I think the biggest thing–you know, you’re young right now so you have to enjoy life. You know, watch cartoons, sleep over at your friend’s house. But in the back of your mind, understand what you want to accomplish in life. So I would just say, enjoy your youth. Don’t press and think about the future too much but understand that if you want to achieve certain things in life, you have to work hard towards that and you have to begin limiting some of the fun you have. Once you become a certain age, you have to make a decision on going to parties with your friends or studying versus working on your sport. So I would just say, have fun but then there’s gonna be a time where you gotta cut the fun down.

Brandon
Well first, you gotta get a Duke shirt. Other than that, I would say just keep dreaming. There’s gonna be people out there that’s gonna try to shoot your dreams down and tell you that whatever you want to do, other people are trying to do the same thing. But just keep your dream alive and work hard and you’ll succeed.

C.J.
Thanks, Ethan. We want to thank the fans for all your great questions. We want to give a special thanks to Brandon Ingram, Jamal Murray, and Wade Baldwin IV. Catch the NBA Draft on June 23rd. Best of luck to all the NBA hopefuls out there. 

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