Q: When did you first begin to think about being recruited as a major Division 1 college basketball player?
A: When I was about 8 years old I used to see the ACC on TV, and my idol was (former Maryland guard) John Lucas. I wanted to be like him and I wanted to play bigtime college basketball as he did.
Q: Were you better than the people you played with right from the start?
A: I think I was just as good as the older players, but I was more into it. Worked harder. I wanted to be better than most kids my age.
Q: When you were in grade school what kind of hours did you spend (playing) after school?
A: I used to play from maybe 3 til about 5 and go home and eat dinner and come back and play a bit more that night.
Q: When did the recruiting process start for you?
A: It was when I was a freshman here at Woodson. I first got a letter from Davidson College and that was the beginning of my recruitment.
Q: As a sophomore did you start receiving more letters? Did the coaches start calling?
A: I got a lot of letters from my freshman through my junior years. The calls really didn't start until my junior year. Then my senior year we had to cut the calls to my home off.
Q: The first letter you got -- you were 14 years old at the time?
A: Fourteen years old.
Q: How many letters would you say you got from the final six schools?
A: I would say from Maryland I got maybe 25 letters. From Duke I got 25 to 30. Virginia, I didn't receive that many. Eight to 10. American, I got five. Boston College, about 10. Several of the schools had alumni write.
Q: Whose decision was it to cut off phone calls to your home from coaches?
A: That was my coach's decision. I needed to concentrate better on my studies at night. I wouldn't have the phone ringing every 10 or 15 minutes.
Q: Before you cut them off, were there a lot of calls?
A: Yes, I was really kind of hassled. This one would call and just say "Hi." Not really a great conversation. They just want to make sure that you know they're interested in you.
Q: Was there a time when you and your family sat down to draw up a game plan as to how you were going to be recruited?
A: My coach did that. Also my mom and my dad did that with me.
A: The beginning of my junior year.
Q: That early? You removed a lot of colleges from your list around when, the fall?
A: I narrowed it down at the beginning of my senior year.
Q: With your basketball and your grades, you pretty much had your pick of where you wanted to go. When you narrowed the list how did you go about it?
A: I knew I wanted the ACC. I had maybe four schools in the conference that I would consider going to. One school would have a better academic reputation than the other. One school would have better weather. Or they would recruit the type of people that I would like to be around. And the type of coach that I would like to play for.
Q: You narrowed it to ACC schools finally?
A: Maryland was in my final six until they signed the point guard Keith Gatlin. So we eliminated each other. But my final five was Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest, Boston College and American University.
Q: Why those the six schools?
A: Okay. Maryland. I've grown up knowing Maryland all my life. I've known Coach Driesell every since I was in the fourth grade. I went to his camp. I always liked him. John Lucas was my idol. He went there. My sister goes there now. I've seen the campus. I really like it. I like the players.
Duke I didn't know too much about. I knew they had a great academic program. Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski (also known as "Coach K.") recruited me for two years. I got to know him very well. I knew it was a very beautiful school.
Virginia has a great academic program. They have one of the best coaches in the country, Coach Holland. It's not too far from home.
Wake Forest I didn't know too much about. I just knew I liked the way Coach Tacy came across to me. He had a nice, gentle way of recruiting me.
Boston College I really didn't know anything about. I knew Coach Gary Williams when he was at AU and he was a very nice coach. I liked him. I wanted to be recruited by some of the top schools in the country and that was definitely one of them.
American University was one of the area schools. I've been over there many times. One of (Woodson's) former players is an assistant coach there. They have a great academic program also.
Q: When you were a freshman and a sophomore were your instincts that you were going to end up at Maryland because of Lucas?
A: As a freshman and sophomore it was a dream. Play at Maryland.
Q: When you were a kid and you went to camp did you meet Lucas?
A: Yes, I met John when I was in the 4th grade and we've been very, very close ever since then.
Q: Have you talked to him?
A: Oh definitely. Many times.
Q: What kind of things do you talk about?
A: About the type of situation that would be best for me. He advised me to go to the University of Maryland. He told me it was a great school for him and he thought maybe I could follow in his footsteps. He thought I was tailor-made for the type of game that they run. And he really wanted me to go to Maryland.
After I went to Five Star in my junior year -- every coach you can think of is at Five Star.
(Five Star basketball camp in Pennsylvania is the most prestigious of the many camps run for high school basketball players around the country. At these camps college coaches usually get their first look at up and coming young players)
I started receiving an awful lot of letters. At camp they aren't allowed to talk to you. So they all write to you to tell you how much they like the way you play and why they think their school would be good for you. During my junior year I played pretty well. Made all-met and a lot of coaches came to my games. The letters got more frequent then and the calls started coming in too. By the end of my junior year I knew which schools really wanted me and which schools I really wanted. I liked Duke because they singled me out -- almost specialized in Tommy Amaker.
Q: You were first recruited by Duke by an assistant coach, right?
A: No, by the head coach
Q: You were recruited by Coach Krzyzewski?
A: Yeah. From the start.
Q: What is it about him that appealed to you?
A: I could really feel that he understood the type of things I was doing. I think a lot of coaches don't appreciate certain things that people in my position do. They like guys that jump high and slam dunk. I think he really had an appreciation for the little things that I do.
Q: Athletes receive special treatment don't they?
A: Some schools might. But the schools I visited, they were real straight about it. They said this is how it's gonna be if you come here and you're gonna do everything exactly the same way. So if you see something you don't like you better ask about it right now.
Q: Is there anything that made the visits hard for you?
A: Yes, all the schools make it seem like this is the best for you. Every last one of them. It's a tough process of making the final decision on which school is the best for that student.
Q: They do a real selling job, don't they?
A: Exactly. They're all going to mgake it seem like that is the only place in the world that you want to be.
Q: One thing that an athlete goes through is having the coach coming to their home to talk about the school. Can you describe your home visits?
A: All my home visits there was a routine. The coaches would get comfortable after dinner and then they'd talk about the academics and then the social life and then they'd talk about basketball. They would break down each little thing. They would talk about the courses you might take as a freshman. Or they would talk about their academic standards. What you would be expected to do. Then they would tell you about the social life. The interaction with the other students. The activities on campus. Then they would finally get into the basketball situation. Where they'd hope that you could be of help to their team.
Q: Tell us a little about each visit starting with Coach Lefty Driesell from Maryland.
A: Okay, first Coach Driesell came in. He came in with an assistant coach and with John Lucas. They brought in some film of the school. A videotape to show me what the campus looked like -- in affect took you on a little drive on campus. They showed me some clips from some games too. They really, really pressed the point that they think it's one of the best schools in the country.
Q: Now what about the University of Virginia?
A: Coach Holland came with one of his assistants and it was basically the same routine. Coach Holland was very straight up. He told me that they had two guards down there and that they were going to play. But when you come down and we see you, you might play right away.
Q: Now when Duke came in with Coach K.
A: He seemed like he wanted me the most. When you come down to it that was the difference. The feeling like you were really wanted by someone. The fact that he seemed interested in me as a person -- not just as a player -- impressed my parents. All coaches say that, but with Coach K. it seemed really sincere. He had asked people what kind of person I was, not just what kind of player I was. He checked me out. I liked that.
Q: How much studying of the NCAA rules did you do?
A: I think I had a pretty good understanding of what they were going on. What could be done and what couldn't be done by a student athlete. What type of things the coaches may try to do. What was illegal or legal or whatever.
Q: I assume that as a kid you read about some of the abuses that go on in recruiting?
A: I feel that many times it's overplayed. I think that's what the public wants to hear about. The ones who are recruited honestly have no problems. There are a lot of those, too, you know. People tend to forget that because they hear these other stories.
Q: Why do you think the public wants to hear about that?
A: They consider college basketball to be a big business. Which it is. So they want to hear about the big money and who gets it and how they get it and it seems like that's all there is. The most any guy I've ever been around got from a college was a pair of sneaker. I've never been around anyone who got a car or house.
Q: Do you see potential dangers with kids 14, 15, 16, 17 being treated as if they are special people at that age and what it might mean for them?
A: I think they feel that they're going to be treated that way all their lives and it's not going to be that way at all. All that attention that they receive at that age, they should realize that it's only temporary. Fifteen years down the road, maybe they'll get a chance to play pro ball, maybe they won't. They have to keep that in perspective. They should always understand that all the attention is temporary.
Q: On the flip side of it, do you ever worry that people will be just looking at you as a ballplayer?
A: Yes, that happens. Sometimes you just hear little things. Somebody makes a crack or people are whispering. Maybe he didn't do something right. "Yeah he's a dumb jock." Most of the times that I have received this it has been on a friendly basis. As a joke. But sometimes it makes you wonder if that's how they really gfeel or how they think.
Q: Do you worry about the day when the cheering stops?
A: No I don't. It's an ego problem when you start worrying about people not cheering anymore. I think that's when you have to keep everything in the right perspective -- where you want to go and what you want to do in life.
Q: Do you think about pro ball?
A: Yes I think all basketball players who want to be good think about pro ball. But you also have to realize the numbers that do make it. It's not going to be easy at all.
Q: You've sat down and thought about that?
A: Yes I have.
Q: That influenced your decision on where to go to college?
A: Yes, very much so. I wanted to go somewhere that wouldn't just be four years of basketball. Because after four years I have a very good possiblity that I'll be looking for a good job. I'm going to try to get that. I think that the college I choose is going to have to help me develop as a student.
Q: What's that school?
A: Duke University.