The final goal is a spot on an NBA roster. To get there, though, college basketball's best spend the months between the end of the NCAA season and the NBA Draft working on everything a organization will analyze from on-court skill to physical conditioning to how they interview. The IMG Academy basketball program has successfully prepared prospects for the NBA Draft combine, private workouts and NBA career for years, including names like Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Jrue Holiday, Iman Shumpert and many others.
He was putting together one of the best statistical seasons ever by a point guard and leading his Tar Heels team to a possible national championship, then Kendall Marshall crashed hard to the ground after a foul in a 2nd-round March Madness game against Creighton. Now nearly recovered and prepping for the NBA Draft at IMG Academy, Marshall talked about his innate point guard nature, meeting President Obama and how a retired Rasheed Wallace can still get buckets.
Kendall Marshall on...
...instincts as a point guard: I've always preferred passing over scoring. My dad used to get frustrated with me not scoring. He'd make little bets with me like if I took 10 shots, he would give me money. I had teammates who wouldn't be able to catch, so my coach told me, âThrow it at their face, and I bet you they catch it.â
Do I get sick of talking about passing? No. It's what I do. You wouldn't go to a car salesman and ask them about lottery tickets.
...playing Duke: It was one of the best experiences of my life. You can just feel the difference on campus. You get off the bus and they're chanting already. I'd be lying if I said I treated every game the same. That game is different. And it's not even the players, I've played with most of them growing up. It's something about that jersey, you just want to perform when you play them.
...what would have happened if he didn't get hurt: It's hard to say âWhat if?â because there are so many variables in basketball.It was tough to deal with. I didn't want to end my career on the bench in a suit and tie. I almost felt helpless. I couldn't support my team. But you have to deal with the circumstances life throws at you.
...the status of his wrist: My wrist is almost 100 percent. What people didn't know is that I also fractured my elbow. That's been the toughest thing for me to deal with, still not being able to go full contact. Hopefully, I'll be ready to go by the Combine.
...when he knew he could be a pro: The end of my freshman year of college. I felt like I was pretty good, but people started asking me after my freshman year if I was coming back. I was like, âWhere would I go?â It didn't even occur to me.
...meeting President Obama during the season: Before the game when we met him, I remember him saying something like âGood job last year once you started playing.â I'm like, âWow, he knows who I am!?â
...best advice he's received: I'll never forget my father once telling me âBig-time players step up and make big-time plays in big-time games.â He used to say it all the time.
...Twitter haters: In season, I get anywhere from 15-25 Tweets per day of just pure recklessness. Keeping it PG, it's stuff like âYou suckâ and âYou can't shoot.â Now, it's âYou're overratedâ and âYou're not going to get drafted high.â Even some Carolina fans come at me sideways now because I left school early. Maybe one every couple days I'll give them a sarcastic response. You have to be able to laugh because these people don't understand that you're human and not on a pedestal.
...NBA players returning to UNC for summer games: Their skill set is amazing. Every guy can shoot. They have man strength. There were guys like Brendan Haywood - he can play. Rasheed Wallace comes out and nobody can guard him - and he's retired! Ray Felton, Sean May, all these guys. It's a humbling experience. It shows you how much work is left to be done.
...choosing IMG Academy: I feel like what I needed wasn't on the court, it was off the court. IMG does a tremendous job of taking care of your body. With the NBA workouts, you're not going to surprise anyone. They've been watching you play for years. I'm not preparing for the Draft, I'm preparing for the season. My ability to change directions faster, being more athletic, eating healthyâ¦ It was definitely the right choice for me to come here.