The 2017 NBA Draft is hours away — and, it’s the night that will change the lives of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and more top prospects, forever. So, why them? — HollywoodLife.com has the EXCLUSIVE scoop!
While we gear up for the NBA Draft — which will be held in New York City on June 22 — we caught up with the top prospects whose lives are about to take a 180. HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY went one-on-one [don’t worry, it wasn’t on the court] with Markelle Fultz, 19, Lonzo Ball, 19, Malik Monk, 19, Justin Jackson, 22, and John Collins, who filled us in on this “surreal” experience. Check out what the guys had to say before their names are called tonight from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY!
First, we met with Ball, who was as calm as one could be before entering the NBA as the no. 2 pick. While he answered questions about his father like a pro, telling reporters that he pays no mind to the hype, we picked his brain about his skills. We’ve all heard that he’s NBA material, perfect from behind the arc, and flawless when going into the paint. But, Ball admitted that he has to work on everything. “You can always get better,” he said. “Right now, I’m focusing on getting stronger in my pick and roll game. You can always get better in the gym, that’s what it’s for.”
And, then we chatted with the man of the hour — Markelle Fultz, who described himself as a player who can do anything. “I see myself as a playmaker. I feel like I can do everything; I can fill in all boxes on each end of the floor. I think I’m an unselfish, great teammate.” Although his confidence is rock solid, he only wants to get better. “I want to work on everything; all aspects of my game, offensively, defensively. As for off the court? – Fultz said, “I just want to make sure I stay the same; don’t change for nobody, keep the people that aren’t good for me, away.” Fultz is a smart guy.
While his table was filled with endless amount of reporters, Fultz, took a step back, and let us know how grateful he is to be the no. 1 prospect. “I could have not been here. I could have been one of those kids at home, listening who’s here,” he said. “Just knowing where I came from [is important]. I had to do a lot to get here and just thinking about that. Everyday, I wake up thanking God for everything, and not taking anything for granted. That’s how I look at it.”
Fultz was a late bloomer, even before college. When he was younger, he was actually cut from his varsity basketball team and was forced to play JV. Well, how the tables have turned, right? So, when we asked him what the best piece of advice he’s ever gotten is, we weren’t shocked by this reply… “Anything you want to do in life, you can do it; just put your mind to it; don’t let anybody change that; just work hard and do it.”
Then, we met up with Justin Jackson — a mature play, straight off his NCAA Championship with the Tar Heels, who credits God for giving him the keys to success. It’s no secret that he’s one of the most humble and down-to-earth players we’ve ever seen enter the draft, and he told us why. “It’s just the way my family brought me up, honestly,” he admitted. “It’s that and, I don’t look at all of my achievements and things like that as coming from me. A lot of it, and everything I’ve ever accomplished, I look at it as a blessing from God. So, how can I boast about something that’s not even mine? That’s been key for me.”
Jackson may have been a silent force during his sophomore year with the Tar Heels. But, this past season, he came out like a different person. Though, he’s trying to “fine-tune” a few things as he becomes a major asset to a major franchise. “I definitely have a lot to work on,” Jackson admitted. “For me, every day, I’m trying to get better at everything.” And, that “everything” consists of? — “Trying to shoot the ball more consistently still, fine-tune somethings as far as my strengths go, and also, work on my weaknesses. So, I’m trying to get stronger and work on my ball-handling… things like that. If I continue to do that, I think I’ll be alright.” And, we think so too!
As for what the NBA Draft means to him? — “It’s crazy to think that I’m really in this position. It’s an honor for sure. I can’t wait to see where my name might be called and to get that journey going.”
Next up, John Collins. There’s something about Collins that’s so likable. When we asked him to look around and put this experience into words, he almost became tongue-tied. “I can’t even really tell you. I haven’t had the chance to really sit down, calm myself and think about,” he admitted. “It’s been so busy with so many things going on, but surreal is the word I’m going to use for it. It’s the moment I’ve been working my entire life for and it’s almost here. So, it’s crazy.”
As for what he’s concentrating on moving forward? — “I’m definitely going to look on expanding my game away from the basket. I think I’ve been able to prove that I can score around the basket and use my athleticism.” So, now, “it’s all about being as versatile as possible, guarding your position, shooting 3’s and being able to guard out of the wing, making plays and all of that stuff,” Collins said adding, “I am pretty versatile around the basket.” And, he gets by with a little help from some of his NBA idols. “I like Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Paul Millsap, Anthony Davis; those are the types of guys I like to model my game after.”
Last, but certainly not least, Malik Monk. He’s a stand-up guy, who admittedly loves fashion. And, although he keeps it simple, he plans to shoot for the stars in his rookie year. “I’m trying to get every award a rookie can get. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said with pure confidence. “I really just want to learn more about the league. Wherever I go, I’m going to ask questions. Hopefully I’ll have a great vet there, so I’m just trying to pick up a lot on of my game.”
Don’t miss the Draft when it airs tonight, from NYC! You can watch all of the action, RIGHT HERE! In the meantime, HollywoodLifers, tell us your picks for tonight’s draft!