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JR Smith Interview




/ Aug 17, 2004

New Orleans Hornets rookie JR Smith jumped straight from high school to the pros. met with Smith at Rucker Park before an EBC America game for an exclusive interview.

JR Smith, New Orleans Talk bout where you're from and the court you played on when you started out.

J.R. Smith: I'm from Lakewood, New Jersey, played in the Center. It's our mini version of the Rucker. A lot of people always come out and show us love, so we basically play every night. Was basketball the first sport that you played? And when as a kid did you start getting really good at it?

J.R. Smith: I played basketball first. Football and baseball came up later. Basketball was always my first love. I started getting really good when I was like 10 or 11. I started playing ball when I was three, but my skills started developing when I was 10 or 11. My dad picked up on it, and it went from there. The local players there helped you get good, right?

J.R. Smith: Oh yeah, all the old heads around the hood helped me out a lot with my game, because I was playing with the older guys. When I play with older guys it just makes me better, especially because my dad always had me out there playing with the older people, so my game started to develop. Anyone in particular help you more than the rest?

J.R. Smith: Randy Holmes, he helped me out. He's like a playground legend. He played high school ball at St. Peters. He's taken me under his wing now. He's going to be my mentor throughout my first two, three years. He's really helping me a lot now, so when I go down to New Orleans he's going to be there with me, living with me. At what point in high school did you realize you could probably jump right from high school to the pros?

J.R. Smith: I didn't really know until after the McDonalds game. My skills were developing rapidly after that game. During the season I didn't really know I could do it as good as I was doing it. After that (game), I was really going to college up until that point, but after that point it was just, "you gotta go to the NBA." You put on a real show in that game. Did people actually say to you that you should jump, or were you thinking it on your own?

J.R. Smith: People started telling me. Even the players started telling me, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Shaun Livingston, Big Baby (Glenn Davis), everybody was just like "Yo, man, you just killed. You might as well go pro with us." So it was like, might as well. That's why I'm going to college anyway, to get an education but to get to the league anyway, so I figured this is just the quickest way. Is it almost like a club? A jump-to-NBA club with high school seniors, like the crew you just talked about. It's like you got invited by them to join the club.

J.R. Smith: Yeah, especially for us, because we always knew each other growing up together, playing AAU ball, so we've known each other for three, four, five years, growing up, so now it's like we're all brothers anyway, so we all go in together, we all show our best effort, and then they're going to say we were the best class ever. That's what we're trying to accomplish. Is there anyone you think could have jumped straight from high school to the pros this year that didn't? Players that could have but instead went to college?

J.R. Smith: This past year? Randolph Morris, definitely. He was probably one of my best friends on the AAU circuit who I think should have jumped. But jumping isn't for everybody. Him and family just decided it wasn't the best thing for him, so that's what they did. I'm behind him 100 percent and I hope he does well at Kentucky. Last year I think Charlie Villanueva should have stayed in, but unfortunately he came out and went to college, but he's still going to get there no matter what. He's just going to have to make his money another way. Did you know New Orleans was going to draft you? had you going there, because that's what the word was.

J.R. Smith: I didn't know they were going to take me, because I never worked out for them. I was figuring Miami or something. It just so happened that they picked me up. It was a big shock for me, because again, I didn't work out for them. What does it tell you, that they took you without even working you out?

J.R. Smith: I think they want me to come in and make a big impact for the team. They know I'm a good inspiration on guys in the future, like Baron (Davis) is to me now. It was just a joyful feeling.

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