Nolan Smith is in Las Vegas for a week with Duke teammate Kyle Singler and a number of other college players training with the USA Select team. This squad was hand selected by a panel of college coaches and USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Committee to train against the USA Men's National Team and gain valuable experience in the Olympic program.
This article was originally published at http://DukeHoop.blogspot.com. If you are interested in sharing your website's content with SCACCHoops.com, Contact Us.
Duke Hoop Blog's Lara Lee caught up with the two players before they set out on their second day of practice. Here's the first interview with Nolan:
Duke Hoop Blog: What does it mean for you to be chosen for this Select Team?
Nolan Smith: It's a huge honor to be out here, you know, to play alongside these great college guys and also get the opportunity to play against some of the best NBA players. It's a great honor, and it's very exciting to be out here.
DHB: What do you hope to take away from this week, for yourself?
N: Just learn a lot about my game. I'll really know what I have to do to improve, not only for next season in college basketball, but going forward in my game at the next level. To see myself against the NBA guys, I'll really get to test myself and test my game.
DHB: You've had a really busy summer so far. You said that yourself yesterday... you've been all over the place. What do you think you've gained from going to the different camps and things like that?
N: Oh, I've gained a lot. In my next blog coming out, I'm actually going to talk about that. I've gained a lot. Learning from guys like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, LeBron... all of them have really just given different pieces of their game that they have. And then all the trainers that I've been working with all summer, you know, I've tried to just soak it all in. Keep my game the way it is, but add different pieces that they have. I really feel like I've grown this summer.
DHB: Speaking of the blog... What brought that on?
N: You know, just my personality. Really wanting to become one with my fans, Duke fans, and basketball fans. I really think that they appreciate it. People that love sports love to hear what we're doing, love to hear and see our personalities. And I love giving out to them, so it's just something I want to do to really just spend my free time, you know, when I'm just sitting at the house, and really just do it for the fans.
DHB: So is that your ultimate goal with the blog, give more the insider view of your life off the court?
N: Oh yeah, definitely... give an insider's view, allow people to ask me questions, and I'll try to answer as many questions as I can, and really just try to connect with everybody. I'm a people person; I love putting a smile on people's faces. That's just me.
DHB: Most people were under the impression earlier in the spring that you had no thoughts of declaring for the draft this year. And then after the fact we got a little bit of a different story. How come you kind of kept your thoughts to yourself for a while there?
N: That was just the way I wanted it. You know, I really didn't want to deal with the questions, deal with the interviews asking me about it. I wanted to keep it inside Duke, and keep it with the coaches, keep everything just really low-key. If I would have decided [to leave], then I'd have been prepared for any questions. But then when I decided to stay, it was kind of like, everybody was expecting me to stay, and that's just the way I wanted it.
DHB: What does it mean to you to be a captain coming up this season?
N: It means a lot to me. You know, especially the captains that we had this year, they set a high bar. You know, Jon and Lance... and Zoubs wasn't a captain but he really was, just our senior leadership. This year it's going to be Kyle and myself, and we're ready to try and do the best we can, like last year's guys did. And we're ready for it, you know, leading by example but also being very vocal with our freshmen and our guys coming up. So, it's a huge task and we're ready for it.
DHB: Along that same line, it's a very different team coming in this year personnel-wise, but also the outside expectations for this team are very different this year from last year. How do you handle that, starting out?
N: Just try and be humble. You know, as long as we get everybody on the same page, and play to take it one game at a time. We know the expectations are going to be very high for us. But we just have to stay relaxed, and we got to expect that after winning a championship, the expectations are always going to be high. But even more so with the guys coming in, Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry, who was sitting out, you know people are expecting a lot out of those guys. So we're just going to have to all keep it together. If we play together, then everything will just fall into place.
DHB: Are you going to make it to any of the DC Assault games while you're out here?
N: I definitely plan to. Our workouts here are pretty much over by 2 or 3 o'clock every day, so I definitely plan to go support DC Assault kids and just watch my guys.