Dime: What did you make of North Carolina’s loss the other day? Was that a bump in the road, or something more?
JW: I think it’s a bump in the road. All top teams struggle when they go into Tallahassee. If you remember, when UNC played there last year, Harrison Barnes made a three at the end (for a 72-70 win). Regardless of whether Florida State loses to Harvard or Princeton, when Carolina comes to town, they take it to a different level. Also, they’re the top defensive team in the country; they’re holding their opponents to 36 percent from the floor. Deividas Dulkys suddenly scores 32 points – he scored more points in that game than in his past nine games. UNC is going to take everybody’s best shot.
Dime: How about your alma mater? What does Duke have to do to get to where they need to be?
JW: I think they’re still developing a certain element of toughness, still trying to find out what their strengths are. The interesting thing for them is they’re still trying to figure out how to play perimeter defense. They haven’t been able to extend as much as they used to, like last year when they had Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith, those quick guards that can play the passing lanes. Now with Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins, they play more of a containment style defense. Austin Rivers is still working on his shot selection; he’s a very competitive guy, he can get lost in a one-on-one battle at times. They need Mason and Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly to step up down low. Also, Mason Plumlee needs to make some free throws!
Dime: Rutgers, obviously, is very close to where you grew up – what do you think about their progress this year?
JW: First off, when I go back home and spend time with my dad, I love getting involved in conversations around our neighborhood about who the best team is… in New Jersey! We haven’t had a conversation like that really ever, since I was growing up there. So now, who’s the best point guard, Rutgers’ Myles Mack or Seton Hall’s Jordan Theodore? Herb Pope is doing his thing down low with Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall is having a fantastic year, and it’s great we can finally have that debate. And Mike Rice has done an exquisite job with Rutgers, beating Florida and UConn, they’re playing really good basketball.
Dime: What’s the most common thing you tell young players?
JW: Something you have to get them to understand, all these young kids, is the importance of education. All the top tier guys who are planning to play in the NBA, you have to get them to start looking at this whole thing as a business. You get to a certain point where hopefully you can be in a situation where you can make a lot of money. And you have to run your own company as if you’re your own CEO.
Everyone wants to be the first pick in the draft, and I love asking kids, ‘How much money are you slated to make? What percentage are you going to pay your agent? How are you going to set up your taxes? Did you know you get taxed in every city you play in? What kind of retainer are you going to put your accountant on? How are you going to funnel your money? Do you know about gift taxes?’ And kids look at you in amazement like, ‘I had no idea.’ You really need to start looking into things like that, because if you’re blessed enough to get to that level, that’s your business.
You have to capitalize on the time you have, because the average life span in the NBA is what, four or five years? If I can get that across, I can make a difference.
Dime: You recently moved down to Miami. How’s life down there?
JW: Life is great. I have to tell you, the other day, I woke up around 7:30 and I went outside to the beach and I sat at this café. I was having some café con leche. I was reading the box scores of the games the night before and I said, ‘How could this get any better?’ My job is to watch sports, I was at South Beach taking in all the sights, it’s 80 degrees outside in January… I’m living a dream.
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