The first time NBA draft prospect Chris Singleton met Amare Stoudemire was at the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas last July. Then the Florida State junior hung with STAT in August at SLAM magazine's Team USA party at Slate lounge in New York City, along with Rajon Rondo and Renaldo Balkman.
The third time they connect might be in September, when the Knicks open training camp -- barring a lockout, of course. That's because the blue and orange have high regard for Toney Douglas' former 6'9", 230-pound teammate, who's regarded as the best perimeter defender in the draft (hint hint: he's a back-to-back recipient of the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award). NBA.com's David Aldridge had this to say about Singleton: "Has one of the best physiques of all the draft prospects, and displayed the defensive chops that have NBA types imagining just how many positions he'll be able to guard." Many mock drafts have league commissioner David Stern calling his name anywhere from the 12th to the 25th pick on June 23 at the Prudential Center, a first-time host. ESPN.com's NBA draft expert Chad Ford has him going to the Utah Jazz at No. 12.
This past weekend at Chicago's ATTACK Athletics, the same training facility Singleton has been working out since early May, the main NBA pre-draft combine was held featuring the top prospects in the draft. Players went through basketball drills, measurement testing and team interviews. One of the roughly 10 teams Singleton met with was the Knicks and he said, "I felt very good leaving there."
This afternoon, Singleton and I spoke further about his interview with the Knicks, thoughts on the combine and who most impressed him, preparation for the draft, prediction for which team will pick him and back-up plans if there is a lockout. Turns out, he's already helped launch a business. Read on.
How did your meeting go with the Knicks?
There were 12 people in the room when I met with them [laughs]. Donnie Walsh, Allan Houston, Mike D'Antoni and others.
Was that the most people in the room for one team?
Oh, yeah, definitely. It's just you and you meet with them for 30 minutes. They just ask you questions. It was cool. It's basically one person that runs it and asks the most questions [Singleton didn't remember the person's name], but anybody's able to hop in and ask you a question.
How do you see yourself playing alongside Amare and Carmelo?
I feel good, knowing every day you're playing with two of the elite guys in the league -- two top 10, top 15 guys. I mean, I'd love it. I just know that at any point, these guys can get hot. I'll be happy if I have to just sit in the corner and just watch [laughs].
I know you've seen Amare twice. Has he given you any advice?
He just told me just to keep working. [He said], "You have to learn how to carry yourself. A lot of people are going to be looking at you, but you gotta just clear yourself."
Have you talked to Toney at all during the pre-draft process?
Nah, I haven't yet. I'm sure I will.
How would you feel about playing within Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced system that encourages perimeter shooting, a strong suit of yours in addition to defense?
I mean, it's definitely a good system, but I'm willing to go anywhere. I just want to play basketball.
So how was the overall experience in Chicago?
It was good. I think I really helped myself in the draft by participating in it. It's been good. I think I did well. I got a lot of positive feedback, no negatives. I'm just looking to go forward from there.
What other teams did you enjoy meeting with?
I enjoyed meeting with all of them. I met with Detroit, Golden State, the Nets, the Utah Jazz, Miami, the Hawks, Milwaukee. I enjoyed everybody I met with.
What was your mentality coming in? Was there anything you wanted to prove about your game that you thought was previously overlooked?
It's probably just my scoring, my shot. A lot of people say I have a problem scoring, but I feel that at Florida State, I just kind of held back because of where we were and what kind of team we were. I felt like I had a coming-out [in Chicago]. I was consistent and showed everybody that I've been working on my game. I felt like at Florida State and working with [Michael Jordan's former trainer, and Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade's current one] Tim Grover and Mike Procopio [at ATTACK Athletics], I was really prepared for it.
Where are you hearing you might go in the draft?
I mean, I feel like when you go on the interviews, these teams go in there and they tell you that they like you. But, I mean, they might be telling that to other people. It's one of those things that you just hope they pick you, but you still can't just believe all that. You just gotta be like, "I'll just go wherever the dice rolls, I guess." You're just out there; you can be the Jameer Nelson of the draft [Nelson was projected to be within the top 10 picks in 2004, but he fell to No. 20 to the Magic].
Is there a team you see yourself fitting in with, whether it's a system you prefer or the opportunity to complement a certain type of player?
I just feel that wherever I get picked, I think I'll be a great fit for any team. Whatever happens, I'm just going to go out there and try to play my best and put everything on the line.
But you're hearing first round obviously?
I mean, I am, but I'm still planning if they don't pick me then.
Who else looked good in Chicago?
I'm always impressed with my boy, Marshon Brooks. I think he really helped himself too. I think that was both our mentalities coming in -- that we had something to prove, that we can play with the best of them. Overall, I think we did it.
Was there anybody with a high profile coming in who you thought was overrated?
Nah. I mean, a lot of it is just if you have the right people around you and you know the right people. It can carry you all the way to a high pick in the draft. I was just looking to try to, with everybody in front of me, take over and be aggressive.
What's so unique about Tim Grover's philosophies and methods?
It was nothing. I just felt like I had a good relationship with him. I got to know him well at Nike camps, adidas camps. I just thought this was a perfect fit for me.
What kinds of things is he working with you on?
A lot of dribbling, ball-handling and getting into my shot, like pull-up jumpers. I'm doing a lot of set shooting, keeping my shot consistent. And for conditioning, we're doing all sorts of stuff [laughs].
What's your training schedule like?
I'm working out twice a day, relaxing at night. I'm working out with [draft prospects] Durrell Summers, JaJuan Johnson and Marshon Brooks. Since then, I think we've just bonded. We're just rooting for each other. We're excited. It's my crew up here. We always get together and watch [the NBA playoffs]. That's the only thing we can do, is watch other basketball.
How nice is ATTACK Athletics? What amenities does it have?
It's pretty nice. They have a hot tub, cold tub, an underwater treadmill, a barbershop, a media room, a players' lounge.
Do you think the pre-draft combine is a good measuring stick for ranking prospects? Do you think it's missing something or is it good enough?
I think it just needs more on-the-court things. Some things are not taught to others, but I think that we should have more drills to go up against each other -- show everybody their skills.
What was the biggest surprise this past weekend?
Probably the hospital thing. We had to go to a hospital two days in a row. I think it took quite a bit out of the day. They measured our heart, conditioning. We did a stress test.
During the interview process, what kinds of questions did team coaches and executives ask you?
What position am I, is anyone coming with me if I get drafted by them, who do I see myself as right now in the league [Singleton compares his game to Scottie Pippen's], what do you think off the bat you are able to bring to the team, are you fine with sitting on the bench?
And of course you said no?
[laughs] I mean, I'm cool with it. I feel like at the end of the day, they still gotta pay me. I'm still going to work.
Speaking of getting paid, obviously there's the threat of a lockout. Are you worried about it or you optimistic it'll be prevented?
If it happens, it happens. I'm just going to go back to school and get my degree, and then I'm going to find a job. I'm going to do social science. I'm 21 hours away.
Well, I hear you have a clothing line.
Yeah, it's just a little T-shirt company [called Doughpe Clothing]. The style is targeting the hip-hop, rock generation. [The words on the shirts will be] something motivational, something we think is like slick. It's kind of a little urban. We're launching it July 1. Right now, we're just hyping it up for people to know what it's about.
Are you on the design or business side?
A little bit of both. I don't design anything; I just give input on what they can improve on.
Is that something you would focus on more if there is a work stoppage?
I mean, yeah, if I feel like it's going to profit well at the time.
So what's next for you? Individual workouts?
I still might do some group workouts, but a lot of teams are trying to schedule me and just look at me one-on-one. I think with my agent [Bill Duffy of BDA Sports], we're just going to sit down and pick them. I think the whole month of June, I'm going to be in the gym for individual workouts [Singleton has a planned one with the Knicks]. I'm just going to be flying everywhere.
I know you started a video blog series on your website. Are you going to be continuing that every day?
I'm going to try to do it every day, but this time there was too much happening at the combine.
Will you be doing anything else on the site?
I'm probably going to do a T-shirt giveaway.
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