Transcript of former SDSU basketball player Jalen McDaniels interview

Credit: Go Aztecs

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Credit: SDSU Athletics

On April 16, the East Village Times interviewed the Charlotte Hornet’s, Jalen McDaniels.

Not all of his comments made it into the subsequent article (you can find the article here).

Below are his comments in full.

Charlotte Hornets

What have the last ten days been like been for you?

I feel like a lot has changed in the last ten days. From not playing a lot and then a few guys go down and then getting into the starting lineup. I feel like coach is always just going to talk about next-man-up mentality. So I feel like when I wasn’t playing, I still was grinding doing all my stuff. So I stayed ready for my opportunity, really. That’s how these 10 days have been going.

What are the Hornets focused on during the last handful of games in the regular season?

Just getting better as a team on the defensive end. Just clicking even more trying to be top-10 defense and just show that we can play over these last few games. We got to get some wins to solidify our spot. We’ve got to take it one game at a time and not really think about that until it’s here, so just take it one game at a time. That’s how we are going to do it.

What do you think it will be like playing Kevin Durant?

It’s going to be crazy, actually playing him in real life. He’s someone I always watched, looked up to –  it’s crazy – wear his shoes. We are on the court now, so you got to compete. It’s going to be fun, you know, got to compete, playing against a great player like him. We got to do our best and just play hard defensively and do what we can do.

Why is it important to you to accept coaching?

You really need to understand what the coaches want and what they’re saying because that’s how we’re going to win. We have the overall play, but they’re putting us in like the best position to win. Buying in and listening to what the coaching are saying and asking questions. Like, sometimes, I might mess it up if I don’t do something (right). I’ll just ask, “Yo, coach, am I doing this right or wrong” and stuff like that. When they see that you’re bought in, they trust you more because they know you’re going to do the right thing on the court.

What was it like playing against your brother in the NBA?

It was crazy. We really never talked about it like, ‘we going to be in NBA together.’ When it got here, that’s when they were like, ‘okay, now we got a game against each other like a couple of days.’ Now it’s starting to set in. We are really playing (in the NBA). When I’m watching him play, and I don’t have games, I’m like, ‘he’s really scoring, he’s really doing his thing when I watch him. So it’s crazy—little bro doing his thing.

How excited have your parents and friends been for you and Jaden?

Our parents are definitely excited. Our friends (say), ‘Bro, you guys are really in the league. Both of you.’ They always talked about it. They always said, ‘y’all are going to make it one day,’ so they always seen it. I guess you could say, honestly. There were like, ‘you all need to just work out a lot, y’all going to make it. Just keep going with y’all are doing. I appreciate them.

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

What is something about the NBA that you could only learn by being in the league?

Having so many games, we have practice, but we really don’t practice a lot. In college, we’re practicing like every day – you might have off day – but we have games like every other day in the NBA. We have so many plays that you got to remember. We didn’t have a real practice because we’re on the road for two days. You’ve got walkthroughs. Having walkthroughs to get you prepared, you really got to lock-in. You’re guarding different men every night, different teams, different styles of play. You really just not lock into the details. It seems like a lot like what the coaches are saying. It’s a lot of info but, you just gotta lock-in. It’s your job to go out there and win. You really get to prepare a lot more in college for games than you do in the NBA because it’s such a quick turnaround in the NBA.

You were scheduled to play LeMarcus Aldridge tonight before he announced his retirement. Could you comment on his announcement?

LaMarcus Aldridge is a great player. It’s sad to see him have to retire so early. It was out of nowhere when I saw the news. I hope everything is all good on that side. He had a hell of a career.

Is playing for Michael Jordan as special for young players today as it is for middle-aged fans?

It’s special for me at least because the family’s from Chicago, so they always used to talk, ‘you gotta have the Jordans that come out.’ They would set the tone. When I was growing up, I knew Michael Jordan. Me and my cousins used to watch Michael Jordan game tapes. We weren’t alive to watch him live – maybe they were, but I wasn’t. Growing up, I had to have the new J’s, had to try to get them anyway (I could). When I see him, I’m like, ‘That’s really Mike. I got his shoes on right now. It’s crazy.’ Every time I see him, I’m like, ‘That’s really the GOAT.

San Diego State Aztecs

How did your redshirt year at SDSU prepare you for your path in the NBA?

It’s really crazy. It’s literally the same thing like they’re really like the same thing. When I talk to people, I always (say) ‘it’s just like redshirt year.’ I wasn’t playing in the games. It was strictly all practice, extra workouts – that’s all it was – extra weights. So I was already used to working out and working hard so much. When I got here, it was the same mentality, really. I always bring it back to when I redshirted my freshman year.  It helped me a lot.

What advice would you give Jordan Schakel and Matt Mitchell as they enter the NBA draft process?

The advice I would give them is: during the workouts, just go hard. It’s going to be rough, but you gotta stay positive, get through it. Hopefully, they get picked up. When they get to the league, I feel like they’re definitely prepared to play. We’ll just have to see what’s up.

What lessons from Coach Fisher and Coach Dutcher still speak to you today?

They were always (said), “don’t get to like high or too low. Always stay level-headed.” I always have kept that in my mind. You have a good game, but you have a game tomorrow, so you have to do it again. You can’t be too stuck on it, saying, “Oh my God had a good game!” But you need to do the same thing tomorrow.  Just staying level-headed, not getting big-headed. And just staying positive, really? That’s the biggest thing.

What message would have for Aztec Nation?

I want to thank the Aztec Nation for always showing support for me all the time. It’s much appreciated. San Diego’s like a home to me. Literally, I love it there so nice, beautiful. It’s a part of me. It made me who I am today. I really appreciate that I got the opportunity to go there, San Diego State, and being in the city.

Were you always the best player on your team in high school?

I don’t feel like in high school. I was really a phenom. Now, my brother, Jaden, he was ranked top 10. I was never in the rankings. I was kind of under the radar. I guess you could say. Towards my junior year of high school, I started to get more offers from the AAU circuit, and then, senior year, I committed to San Diego State.

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What was your growth spurt like during high school?

Freshman year of high school 6-3 maybe. I don’t even know the weight. … Really, I was just growing every year—so tenth grade. I was like 6’ 5”.Then. The next summer comes around, I’m like 6’7”. When I hit 6’ 7” and I just grew to 6’9” ½, 6’ 10”. As the ages were going on, I just kept growing. It was crazy.

Is it fair to say that at every level, you start low and have to work your way to success?

I guess that’s just how it is. Sometimes I question, ‘why do I have to do all these extra type of steps?’  I guess that’s just the path for me. Everybody’s path is different. Every time an obstacle comes or something like that, I just know how to work through it. I have already been here before. I feel like that’s my path, like that’s just always who I’ve been I have to just work the extra hard. I wasn’t always the best. That’s just who I’ve been.

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