The validation of being the top-ranked player at your position and the respect that accompanies that appointment is priceless.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who was rated the No. 1 point guard in the ESPNU 100 in 2010, said being the best in high school is a process.
“I can totally understand that,” said Irving, who was picked No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft in June by the Cleveland Cavaliers. “It’s every high school player’s dream.”
Where the disconnect comes in for Irving is the mindset of how and when those players plan to reach that goal.
“They want it right now,” said Irving, who averaged 17.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds for Duke last season. “But my question is what are you doing to get there? It’s not gonna just happen overnight. You’ve got to have a plan.”
Irving finished high school as the No. 1 point guard and No. 3 overall player in the 2010 ESPNU 100, but he’s quick to point out that he “wasn’t always thought of as the best.”
“I can remember thinking about how I was gonna get to where I wanted to be,” said Irving, who starred for St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.). “This is where I think kids mess up. My plan wasn’t to be the top point guard in the country right away. First, I wanted to be No. 1 in my city, then my state and then my next goal was the country.”
Irving’s logic was simple: The smaller goals were more realistic to achieve in a timely manner.
“Just to jump to No. 1 in the country isn’t realistic for a lot of different reasons,” Irving said. “You have to know it’s going to be a process and you have to love the process. You really do. When you have the smaller goals first, you’re constantly achieving things throughout your process.”
Ironically, the biggest detractors to attaining your ultimate goal are triumphs, according to Irving.
“It’s crazy because you could blow up for a big game at a big tournament and immediately you think that should put you on top,” Irving said. “That’s not how it works. You just keep working hard and the rest will take care of itself. It’s not an easy process, but it’s necessary. You just have to love it and be realistic about your goals. It will work out the way it’s supposed to, but you do everything you can.”