Kyrie Irving: High School Hoop’s Surprise Superstar
Words. Jason Jordan
Kyrie Irving isn’t comfortable with the label, but at the same time he can’t deny that’s it’s fitting.
Has Irving officially made the transition from star to superstar?
He certainly leads the life:
Bombarded with media requests daily? Check.
Swarmed by autograph seekers? Check.
Crazed college fans attending his AAU events in droves? Check.
And in the first few minutes of our conversation, Irving averaged a beep-in a minute with people blowing up his phone.
“It gets a little crazy at times,” says Irving, a 6-1 point guard from St. Patrick’s High (N.J.). “I’m good now…”
Then on queue, another beep-in. Only this time he can’t hit the ignore button.
“Oh man that’s (Indiana head) coach (Tom) Crean,” says Irving. “Can you hold on for just a few minutes?”
It’s safe to say that Irving’s ascension to superstar is at least in the pre-launch stage.
“I don’t know about that,” says Irving, who will decide between Duke, Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Seton Hall and Connecticut. “I’m just humble. I just go hard on the court.”
No player in the country has been as productive over the last 30-40 days as Irving. Whether it was scorching the nets at AAU Nationals or winning MVP at the Nike Global Challenge, Irving has been stellar while playing against the nation’s best…
HighSchoolHoop: In our inaugural rankings we had you barely making it in at No. 50. I imagine you think that’s too low?
Kyrie Irving: You know, now that I think about it, I did see that. Yeah that was a little crazy to me.
HSH: But our rankings disregard class and after reevaluations we shot you up to No. 16.
KI: (Laughs) OK, cool. That’s decent.
HSH: Let’s talk about what you’ve done recently – MVP of the Nike Global Challenge is pretty major.
KI: We played against a lot of good teams like Brazil and Canada. We really took it upon ourselves to play team ball and it worked out for us.
HSH: So think back with me to the first practice at the Global Challenge, what was it like to learn that you wouldn’t be starting?
KI: Hmm, about that one… Yeah that was something…
HSH: How did you handle it initially?
KI: Well, first I called my father and talked about it. I wasn’t mad or anything I just wasn’t used to that so it was an adjustment. But I settled into the role of being the spark off the bench.
HSH: Did you end up finishing every game?
KI: I did.
HSH: That’s all that matters then.
HSH: You’ve had a ridiculous run over the last month or so. What have you averaged over that time?
KI: About 29 points, six assists and six rebounds.
HSH: What was the motivation behind you coming on so strong?
KI: Well, the main knock on me was my defense and that sometimes I don’t play as hard every play. I wanted to work on my consistency and giving it 110 percent and never taking a play off. Never. I think that I’ve really matured as a player over the last month. I can really see how I’m growing, and I want to keep it at this level and keep getting better.
HSH: So let’s talk colleges, you recently said that Indiana and Duke will definitely be getting official visits?
KI: That’s correct. I’m visiting Duke on Sept. 18, and I’m hoping to setup the rest soon.
HSH: What’s the appeal for you with Indiana?
KI: Indiana was there when I wasn’t playing and I had to sit out for 30 days because I transferred. I really took that into account. I just have a great relationship with the whole staff. When I went out there for my second unofficial visit during the adidas May Classic, there were more 2,000 fans there to see my AAU game. That really stood out to me. After that tournament, it was premature now that I look back at it, but I named Indiana as my favorite. I know now that it was premature to do that, but I was so excited after seeing all of those fans.
HSH: Understandable. What’s the appeal for you with Duke?
KI: Well, Coach K is one of the greatest coaches in the land and has produced a lot of great NBA players. And they were out in full force in Orlando. Coach K was there at all four of my games and all of the showcases. That was really big for me.
HSH: Are you definitely taking all five visits?
KI: I’m not gonna go say that I’m definitely taking all five visits, but right now that’s the plan.
HSH: Throughout the process what coach had the best personality?
KI: Probably, (head) coach (Tony) Bennett at Virginia. I think it’s because he’s young, but he’s got a really good personality.
HSH: What schools do you talk to the most?
KI: Duke, Indiana and Georgia Tech. Those are the main ones I talk to regularly.
HSH: What do you talk about with these coaches?
KI: It depends. If I’m coming back from an event they’ll tell me how they thought I did there and what I could’ve improved on. Then they’ll tell me, more importantly, how I will fit in at their school.
HSH: So Indiana and Duke are your top two?
HSH: Well, let’s deal with your top two: How does Indiana say you will fit in?
KI: They see me as a tough, versatile point guard.
HSH: And how does Duke see you fitting in?
KI: Well, they told me that they think I can be another Jason Williams. At first, honestly, I thought that he (Krzyzewski) was just saying that just to say it, but then coach K said it again. After I got to know coach K I learned that he doesn’t really throw comments out like that. So it’s an honor to be compared to him.
HSH: What’s important to you in deciding on a college?
KI: Family atmosphere, great coaching staff and great academics.
HSH: Do you want to take your official visits during the basketball season?
KI: Yeah because then I can take it all in. Most likely I’ll be taking my officials during the season. I’ll probably go to a couple of games. We’ll see.
HSH: When would you like to decide?
KI: When my family and I sit down and talk it over and I get that gut feeling.
HSH: You have a family tie at Kentucky?
KI: Yeah my uncle Rod (Strickland) is on the staff there.
HSH: Talk about Kentucky.
KI: When it comes to Kentucky all you can think about is guards because coach (John) Calipari has done a great job with guards. But with Kentucky it’s kind of like a week-to-week thing because you hear about so many new players being recruited by Kentucky, that you don’t even know what to believe anymore.
HSH: What was your best matchup this summer?
KI: Probably when I went against Josh (Selby) at the NBA Camp. We won the first game and he won the second game.
HSH: Who won the matchup?
KI: Uuuuh… I don’t know. I’m not sure.
HSH: Good answer. What about your best highlight?
KI: Beating Team Final and All Ohio Red in Florida.
HSH: Yeah I heard about the Team Final game.
KI: Yeah I had 37 on them.
HSH: We talked a lot about your play over the last month and the elite level you’re at right now. Are you the top point guard in the class?
KI: I don’t know about that. There are a lot of great point guards in the class. I think this is one of those things I’ll have to leave up to you guys. I feel like I’ve patched up any knock that I’ve heard on my game. So with that said, I’ll leave who the best is up to you to decide.