Worth the Wait
A Q + A with Chase Budinger.
Chase Budinger has the kind of game that has made him a well recognized face amongst NBA GM’s for the last three seasons. A solid all-around game built into an athletic 6-7 frame has allowed the Arizona forward to dominate defenders since his days as a prep All-American in California where has also doubled as a top flight volleyball player. Despite the lure of NBA riches and a two year drama surrounding the head coaching position at Arizona, Budinger has waited until now to submit his name to be called in late June.
After a season that saw him reach career bests in nearly every statistical category, he now finds himself far from home in the Windy City prepping for individual workouts. Budinger is working alongside other big names from the college scene such as teammate Jordan Hill and Syracuse’s Paul Harris in hopes of being in peak condition when his auditions for coaches and scouts begin. A grueling schedule of two workouts per day on the floor, plus a weight lifting session, has been his daily routine for the last two and a half weeks and he shows no signs of slowing down.
After several years of anticipating what heights he can take his game to at the next level hoops fans will finally get the opportunity to see. With his life and his career set to take off in the upcoming weeks, Budinger was nice enough to take some time after a workout this week to talk about his preparations for the upcoming draft.
SLAM: You’ve been talked about as a first round pick ever since your freshman year at Arizona. Why wait until your junior year to cash in?
Chase Budinger: I just feel I’m more ready this year. After my freshman year I didn’t mature enough and I felt I needed more time in college to get my game right; to get that confidence so that when I move to the next level I’m ready to face those guys. I feel ready for that now.
SLAM: The last couple of years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Arizona’s program due to the coaching carousel that has taken place. At any point did you consider leaving for the NBA just to avoid all of that?
CB: There was some of that going on, there were so many changes, so sometimes there was the thought of just getting out. But it was a personal choice to go back and I think it helped me. The coaches last year did a great job keeping the team together and I was able to help myself get even better as a player.
SLAM: This past season your numbers improved a bit from your sophomore year, but you became a much more efficient and well-rounded player. What was the reason behind your development this season?
CB: I felt that as opposed to last year, I attacked the rim a lot more this year so my shooting percentages went up. I just tried to be more of an all-around player; my rebounds, my assists, steals, those all went up. That’s the kind of player I am, I can do a lot out there. Like you said, I just became more efficient out there on the court this year.
SLAM: What aspects of your game are you trying to improve upon before individual workouts start?
CB: Well the biggest part of training is always to get your body in shape. It’s a grueling time going to all these workouts, all of the traveling and of course the playing. The biggest key is to prepare your body for that and right now that’s what I’m doing. I could tell you that first week of training is tough on the body, but you get past that point. I’m doing a ton of work on fundamentals. It’s a short time to be training so you can’t really try anything new, so we’re working hard on getting the body in shape and hitting those fundamentals.
SLAM: What about the draft process are you most looking forward to?
CB: I think the biggest thing for everyone is just finally being able to play in the NBA. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was little, and now I’m just so close, it really excites me. It’s a dream come true.
SLAM: What aspects of your game are going to make you appealing to a pro team?
CB: I think my all-around game is really going to appeal to coaching staffs. I think I have a pretty good basketball IQ. I can play defense and I’m athletic too; I think all of those things together are solid.
SLAM: Is there a certain style of play that you think would be best for you to play at the next level? Are there any particular teams that you think would be a better system for you?
CB: Not necessarily. I think I can pretty much play in any system just because at Arizona I was put into all sorts of different systems and in different situations and I was able to adapt. I feel that going into the NBA I’ll be able to adapt to any situation or team that I get put on.
SLAM: Being a native of California, would it be a big deal if you landed with one of the NBA franchises from your home state?
CB: It wouldn’t be a big deal at all. I’m just happy to be picked up by any team and I’m hopeful that I can be taken by a team that I’ll be able to help in both the short and long term.