Did you have a mentor when you were a young boy growing up?
My mentor was my grandfather, Richard Austin. Of course my mother and father were too, but my grandfather was a huge influence on me. He was a baseball fan, and I played a little because of him. But then I realized I liked basketball much more. He was the kind of guy, he didn’t say much, but when he did, you listened!
How about now…is there anyone you play with now that you consider a mentor?
Well, I’d say Chris Paul. I know him real well; I’ve known him for a long time. When I first turned pro, he was someone I would go to with questions. Also Carmelo Anthony, because he’s from my hometown of Baltimore. And also Damon Stoudamire; he’s been good since my first day in Memphis. He’d always be in my ear, and not always good stuff! But he’s honest.
Did you come from a big sports family?
I’m from a big family, and we all played. My brothers, my sisters—well, they tried to play—we all played basketball and baseball.
Were you and your friends big sneakerheads?
Oh yeah! We were into shoes. But when I was younger, I couldn’t always afford to get the newest. I had one pair to play in and one for school. And my mom would get mad when she saw that I didn’t change shoes to play! Our favorites were the Foamposites, the blue and black Foamposites that Penny Hardaway wore. I wish I could get some of those now!
Do you have any special memories of a particular pair of shoes, like from a big game?
I will always remember a game when I was in AAU, with the Cecil-Kirk team. I wore a pair of Nike Shox, I think they were the first version ever made. Josh Boone played on the team with me; I was playing up a year. He scored 40 and I had 30, but since I was playing up, it was a big deal.
What are you wearing in games now?
Right now I’m wearing the Nike Vis-Air Sweet. I’ve worn a bunch of different styles over this season, but these are definitely my favorite.
What are your memories of the Draft and do you have advice for those coming up this year?
The day of the Draft, I was so nervous. There was so much up in the air with where I might get picked. I was definitely nervous. People tell you all sorts of things, rumors. I hate rumors! But eventually, it turned out OK. I would tell the guys coming up now that they should be patient and work hard. They aren’t going to be able to control the situation, so they should just be patient with where they end up and work hard.
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