It never ceases to amaze me the spirit of this young man I birthed. A boy who has entered manhood as evidenced by the answers to these questions I asked. He's Humble. He's smart. He's far from perfect but keeps his vision in mind. He's focusing on what's in front of him and not what "THEY" say about him or his past accomplishments. Read our first of many interviews to come. "In the Kitchen with Mom," just rappin about ball.
MOM: You decided to test the waters at the end of your junior year what made you contemplate doing that?
JAY: I put myself in a good position. I had a really good year and numbers wise I matched up with other top guys across the conferences and I was confident that I could play at the next level. After talking it over with my parents and coaches and finding out what the rule is with coming back to school it seemed like a no brainer.
MOM: Before you got to your first workout how did you feel? Were you nervous about what you were going to see or what the workouts would look like?
JAY: Definitly a little nervous. Going into something you have worked your whole life for you just recognize it's a crazy opportunity. It's the stage you always wanted so you don't want to mess it up. I was on edge but working out for dad all of my life I knew it wasnt going to be much harder than that so I was prepared for it.
MOM: How did your training change once you knew you were going to do this?
JAY: Dad and I had already done some stuff that was pretty intense but he upped it once the goals got so close. We had to turn it up. We worked really hard on conditioning and getting up shots because that's what it's about making shots.
MOM: Who was your first workout with?
JAY: My 1st workout was with the Hawks.
MOM: So you get there and tell us what happened?
JAY: It's like doing college recruiting all over again to some degree but 10 times better. I got picked up by staff at the airport and I got lucky because I got a chance to go to game 6 in the playoffs against the Wizards. I was able to see Wall and Beal go for a combined 80 some points. It was great to see because it's where you want to be one day.
MOM: Walk us through the morning of....did you sleep, was there a wake up call?
JAY: I got a good night sleep. Woke up at like 6 to eat to get to the gym by 7:30. Worked out at about 8. There were 4 of us. I knew of the other guys that were there through seeing them play. It was a bunch of shooting, little bit of 1 on 1, 4 on 4 against the staff and trainers.
MOM: Who was watching?
JAY: The GM. Since the Hawks lost the night before the coach wasn't there.
MOM: So, matching up 1 on 1. What was that like?
JAY: It's was just like any other workout. I have been pitted against my best friends in wars in practice for years, so I was battled tested. Dad, Coach Rod, Coach Kevin, Baltimore Best, AAU, and as I got older Baltimore United and Baltimore elite coaches made us battle for the ball, so these matches reminded me of those. We went up against some of the best teams in the country all the time. Slam N Jam, Bentalou, Assault, a bunch of teams. People don't really know that MD has a bunch a raw talent. All of that prepared me.
MOM: This happened right before exams, so how did you manage that?
JAY: It wasn't that hard. My grades were ok going in and the professors did a good job of preparing us for the exams and working with me throughout the process and travel.
MOM: What a lot of people don't know is that when I named this blog "LIFEOUTSIDETHE94" my goal was to ensure we focused on communicating about all the other things that need to be managed. The sacrifices, the crazy amount of time spent in the gym, the countless hours in the car, the studying and mom quizzes and sleep management in the car. We could also talk about how many kids that started this journey with you who we no longer see because this is a HARD thing to do for everyone. Speaking of that, how does it feel to be one of the last ones standing, after being the "UNDERDOG" for so many years. Putting a team on YOUR back and helping them improve consistently for 3 coming up on 4 years in a row.
JAY: I am proud of what I've accomplished so far but I'm aware that I am no where near where I want to be. Coming into college I had a few goals but I missed the mark on a few of them as well. I have always wanted to be in the NBA. It's all good stuff and it all feels good but I keep in mind that I'm not there yet and that's what keeps me going everyday. It's what keeps me hungry. I don't want to be just average. I've been the guy that no one's talked about for so long. I'm not worried about the success. So when people talk about me now I don't let it affect me either positive or negative. I think if you let what other people say about you boost your ego or deflate it, it can become weakness if you let it in. You gotta lace up and perform everyday. My approach is that I'm not done. Being the guy that's been overlooked before my name being out there is just what it is.
MOM: So back to the experience of testing the waters. So you leave the workouts Atlanta, Boston, Milwaukee and you feel like what? And what kind of feedback did you get?
JAY: I felt good. I shot the ball well. I did good in the one on ones. It's just a 45 minute workout. They give you feedback but you can't be judged in 45 minutes. They just kind of want to get to know you. They want to ensure you are not a knucklehead and someone that will get in trouble. They use resources to get you there so they don't want to waste it on someone that doesn't have true potential.
MOM: Were they all pretty standard?
JAY: Not really. One was formatted and one was a bunch of live action, and the other was a combo of the 2. They give you run tests to see if you are in shape.
MOM: What was your take away and what are some of your goals based on your experience? Where do you go from here?
JAY: I want to put myself in the best situation. I want to take this and run with it. The whole summer was a boost of confidence. You take the advice they give you and become more hungry. It let's me know that I am that much closer. I have been working my whole life so blind. I was never talked about but I just put my head down and worked and I'm going to keep doing the same thing and trust in my work and grind. Going into senior year I want to make the NCAA tournament and make a run. I think we have the guys to do it and I want to lead them. The individual accolades will just come with it.
MOM: Picture yourself at 8 and picture yourself at 21. Every 8 year old believes they are going to the NBA. You happened to think you were going there by way of the University of Texas. Talk to me now as a 21 year old looking back on 8.
JAY: As a 8 year old it's just a goal. It's every kids dream. I wanna be just like so and so. My favorite player growing up was D. Wade. At 8 sitting in front of the television watching games it seemed so far. You think you can do it but it's not really close. But as you get older you start doing the things to reach that goal. At 21 I'm just closer to it. But I haven't done it yet. The accolades are coming but just a few years ago no one was TALKING. I still have to get there.
MOM: What would you tell that 8 year old today?
JAY: You are going to be there. Just keep doing what you are doing. There are going to be those days when you don't want to get up. But GET UP! STICK TO IT. I'm thankful for my parents over this time. They made it so easy to get to where I am. As a kid you don't always have the mental fortitude to be like "Yo, I'm going to get up," but my mom and dad drove me hard to get up and now it's a habit. I feel like every day I have to go put that work in. I would just tell that 8 year old to TRUST YOUR WORK. No matter what, put your blinders on, put your head down, stay in your lane and keep working.
MOM: Jay that's good stuff. Thank you for taking the time to talk to mom.
Again, I am super proud of my guy. I was very excited by his opportunity to TEST THE WATERS but I also had reservations as a parent. Education is important to the family as well as chasing the dream. I just wanted to ensure he was grounded before the bright lights started flashing and he appears to be. He's maturing and I'm still here every step of the way.
LIFEOUTSIDETHE94.....A Mom, Her Boys, and the Ball