Dime had a chance to catch up with a handful of NBA rookies at the NBA Rookie Photo Shoot last Tuesday. On Thursday, we began unrolling our Q&A’s with these future NBA stars. So far we’ve brought you Bradley Beal and John Jenkins and Meyers Leonard, and today you’ll hear from Dion Waiters.
Dion Waiters had an embattled career at Syracuse. Arguably one of the most talented players in the 2012 NBA Draft, reported character issues dogged his reputation as his enormous talente was mitigated by off the court problems. Well, the Cavaliers felt his sophomore season at Syracuse proved that all of that was behind him and selected one of the best pure scorers available to help lead Cleveland back to the promise land alongside Kyrie Irving.
We followed Dion throughout the entire draft process with his diary, and now that he’s settled in with the Cavs, we caught up with him again at the NBA Rookie Photo Shoot.
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Dime: Tell me about your pre-draft journey. Not many people expected you to go No. 4 to Cleveland, so how do you think it all worked out?
Dion Waiters: I mean it was great. It was like a dream come true. All the hard work that you put in, it finally paid off. I think the big issue is you can’t listen to people, doubting you before, saying you shouldn’t go, you should wait ’till next year. And I think I made a big statement on that, the time was right.
Dime: How do you think you played in Summer League?
DW: Honestly, I didn’t play great. I was coming in there out shape, I really hadn’t do nothing. Hadn’t worked out for anybody, or anything like that. I really had to do other stuff, besides that. I got my feet wet, it was a great experience for me. Learned a lot there, definitely motivated me also. Like I said, it was a great experience.
Dime: Does a part of you regret leaving early, not getting that national championship at Syracuse?
DW: Definitely. I definitely wanted that national championship. I thought we had the right team for it, great leaders in Scoop [Jardine] and Kris [Joseph], and those type of guys. The bond we had this year, and everything we went through to overcome all that, everything that was going on off the court. I think that really brought us together, and better than that to win a national championship to go on top of all that.
Dime: There were a lot of rumors swirling about Andrew Bynum heading to Cleveland. How exciting was that prospect?
DW: You hear a lot of things, with what’s going on in the media. That’s out of our hands. We don’t know what’s going on. We just hear speculation. Like when you go on Twitter, people say a move happened but it didn’t. So at the end of the day we gotta go with who we’ve got. I feel comfortable with the guys we got right now. It’s going to be a work in process, to get back to where Cleveland used to be, that’s what we’re trying to do.
Dime: What’s on your pregame iPod?
DW: Meek Mill. He’s from Philly, we know each other, like personally. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Jadakiss, Drake, T.I., that’s really the main guys I listen to.
Dime: What are your pregame superstitions or rituals?
DW: My pregame ritual is eat, get my mind right, go out there early, get some shots up, and do a prayer before every game. I talk to my family who passed, and I talk to the man above. I pray for everybody in my family.
Dime: You didn’t work out for anyone before the Draft. Did Cleveland give you any indication they were looking at you at No. 4?
DW: I hadn’t talked to Cleveland at all. We didn’t talk, nothing. I didn’t work out for nobody. Nobody. So they must have gone back and watched some tape, saw what they liked and knew that me and Kyrie would make a great backcourt one day.
Dime: What role do you foresee yourself playing on the team next season?
DW: Yeah, I want to start. But like coach Scott said, I gotta come in there and work for it. It’s gonna be good for me, I just gotta come in and continue to keep working, do what I gotta do, handle my business.
Dime: What do you want people to say about your career 20 years from now?
DW: He was a tough player, hard to guard. He was a hard worker. He was a professional at the highest level. I want people to remember me for all positive things.
Dime: How excited are you to see yourself in NBA 2K13? That’s gotta be pretty sweet.
DW: It’s definitely cool, to see yourself on a video game.
Dime: You worried about your rating at all?
DW: No, not at all. If it’s low, I’ll go out there and prove why it should go up a little bit, and if it’s high, that’s proof too. It’s a game, at the end of the day, and you can never go by that.
Dime: What kinda stuff do you plan on spending your NBA money on?
DW: You know you gotta always treat yourself and treat your family first. First thing I did was buy my mom a car, before anything. You know you gonna go out there and buy things you want to buy. I’m not a flashy guy anyway. I like clothes, things like that.
Dime: You a big sneakerhead?
DW: Yeah I’m a sneakerhead. I like Jordans, LeBrons, Kobes. I wear more Kobes than anything right now. At first I told myself I’d never wear a low top sneaker. I’ll probably try to switch it up and carry some Durants. Try a pair of ‘Brons one game.
What do you think?
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