by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13
A point guard who plays the game about as smoothly as possible, LJ Rose from Houston, Texas is the highest point guard available on the board according to most scouting services and is also the top lead guard in the SLAMonline 2012 Fresh 50–not to say that any of that matters, and it certainly doesn’t matter to LJ. Blessed with a close family that has helped to keep him grounded as he has grown up, Rose has maintained a steady head on his shoulders despite all of the rankings and hype that have come his way.
Having a father that has played in the NBA and knows what it takes helps, but make no mistake about it: the hype that this high school junior receives is well deserved. Rose sees the floor and makes passes that are simply ahead of the curve–he reads plays and makes well informed decisions that most other guards his age don’t even know are possible. His jump shot is picture perfect and has range past the NBA three-point line.
And all of this isn’t a coincidence: Rose works on his game constantly.
Here’s his take on all things basketball thus far in his young career.
SLAM: So what does that first name of yours stand for and when did people start calling you LJ?
LJ Rose: LJ stands for Lynden Jr. I’m named after my father. People have been calling me that ever since I can remember either that or just “L.”
SLAM: Your game is smooth in many ways. You have range that reaches past the NBA line and you pass the ball with relative ease. What else do you want people to know about your game at both ends of the floor?
LJR: I think I’m more athletic and I’m a better defender then most people think. I am a leader and that’s something I need to continue to show.
SLAM: What players have you modeled your game after over the years and why?
LJR: I’ve tried to model game after Magic Johnson. He’s a close family friend and I’ve always looked up to him as a player/person. Also Steph Curry and Deron Williams because during my high school season I usually have to score more, but I still get my teammates involved and I also have some size. Both of those guys do a great job with that. (Note: Magic is a close family friend because LJ’s father, Lynden Rose, was drafted by the Lakers and became very good friends with him.)
SLAM: You recently told Scout.com “I think it set me back more with my conditioning more than anything else. I haven’t played since July and that part has been hard for me.” What did you do to learn about the game in this time?
LJR: I watched a lot of games with my dad. I’ve always been a student of the game but this really helped me take my knowledge to a new level.
SLAM: You have a lot of time, but what do you need to improve upon the most before you get to the college level?
LJR: Mainly my quickness and strength but that is starting to come.
SLAM: What is your attitude like when in the pre-game? What do you do to get your mind right?
LJR: Before the game I’m always loose. Cracking jokes and different stuff like that. In my opinion it helps my teammates just relax and have fun out there.
SLAM: What are you like in the practice setting?
LJR: In the practice setting I’m always trying new things or looking for ways I can better my game because that’s the only place mistakes are somewhat acceptable
SLAM: Aside from playing with your high school and AAU team-Second Baptist and Houston Hoops respectively–what else do you do to better your game?
LJR: I’m always in the gym with my dad. He really pushes me to be the best I can be. He often drops a few words of knowledge, helping me not make the same mistakes twice. I’m blessed to have a lot of great people around me who want the best for me and being mediocre isn’t an option.
SLAM: Your high school coach Roger Kollmansberger said in the same Scout.com story “I think he’s the best passer in high school basketball. I don’t even think it’s close to be honest with you. He makes our guys look real good. Not only can he pass to the open man, but he passes to the guys where they are comfortable making shots.” How have your passing abilities developed over the years? What measures have you taken to keep improving these skills while also reading defenses?
LJR: Growing up I used to watch a lot of Pistol Pete videos on his passing and from then on I started to pick up different things. Also my vision helps me see things that sometimes many of teammates don’t even see [laughs].
SLAM: Marcus Paige, a point guard from Iowa recently committed to North Carolina. You were offered by them but with that commitment I’m sure they take somewhat of a hit in recruiting you…
LJR: I honestly think its a good commit for them. Paige is a good kid and he can play. I wish nothing but the best for him and Coach Williams.
SLAM: Along the same lines, Rodney Purvis is committed to Louisville, Yogi Ferrell to Indiana. You are the highest rated point guard left on the board in most rankings and the recruiting intensity is sure to heat up. What are you anticipating and how do you plan on handling it?
LJR: It was already crazy but I am just going to keep on working and everything else will take care of itself!
SLAM: Besides UNC, you have offers from Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, Kansas, Wake Forest, Illinois, Virginia, Florida State, Miami and LSU. Who am I missing and what, exactly, will you be looking for in your school of choice?
LJR: Pretty much all the schools that are recruiting me have offered at this point except for Duke. I’m just looking at playing style, relationship with coach, and wherever I feel is the best situation for me.
SLAM: When will you make your decision and why?
LJR: I’ll make decision whenever my family and I feel the time is right and I feel comfortable about it
SLAM: Are you more comfortable in the half-court or in the open court and why?
LJR: Either one is fine for me. In the half court it is all about concepts and reads I think that’s what I’m becoming pretty good at.
SLAM: Who is the toughest opponent you have ever played against? Toughest to contain defensively?
LJR: My toughest opponent I’ve ever played against is probably Rajon Rondo and hardest to guard is Tommy Mason-Griffin.
SLAM: What do you do in your spare time for fun?
LJR: In my spare time I’m usually hanging with friends or in the gym. I also spend a lot of time with my family.