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NBA / Aug 29, 2012 / 12:00 pm

Dime Q&A: Kendall Marshall On Playing In Phoenix And Angry Birds

Kendall Marshall

Kendall Marshall (photo. Jeffrey Camarati/UNC Athletics)

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, John Jenkins, Meyers Leonard and Dion Waiters, and today you’ll hear from Kendall Marshall.

He’s too slow, he can’t shoot, he can’t defend. That’s what people have said about UNC’s Kendall Marshall, but there’s one thing they can’t deny: he’s an elite passer. Marshall exudes a control over the game that few others, in college or otherwise, have ever done. His 9.8 assists per game last season at North Carolina were not only unbelievable in number, but exhibited his intellectual mastery. He’s never going too fast, never wowing with athleticism. He plays at his own pace, simultaneously dictating that same speed to the rest of the game. This, we believe, will translate extremely well to the NBA, especially in Phoenix’s up and down offense.

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Dime: A lot of turmoil this offseason with the Phoenix point guard situation. How do you feel about how it all turned out?
Kendall Marshall: I feel it’s a great situation. Added a lot of youth to our team. Got rid of a couple players that were great assets. I feel like we’re going to be good. Obviously a lot of growing pains were gonna go through, but we still want to get back to that elite level. We have full faith in the coaches and we know we gotta work hard.

Dime: First Phoenix signs Eric Gordon to a max offer sheet, and now reports are saying that they’ll go after James Harden next offseason? What do you think of these moves?
KM: Well they want to win, and that’s why I think it’s a great organization to be a part of. They’re going to do what it takes to get to that next level.

Dime: How much of you regrets that you won’t be able to play with Steve Nash?
KM: I won’t say regret, but I was looking forward to the opportunity. You know he’s a great player, I feel like I really could have learned a lot from him. But you can also learn a lot from playing against him. We get to see him four times, that’s also exciting.

Dime: You were slated to be the starting point guard before the Suns signed Goran Dragic. Was that disappointing, or was it somewhat mitigating by playing in a system that fits your game?
KM: That’s what I’m most excited about, the uptempo offense. I feel like getting up and down with the pieces we have on our team, we can really play to our strength. As far as playing time goes, starting or coming off the bench, that’s all up to the coach. He’s going to do what’s best for the team.

Dime: Looking back, what do you think of your decision to leave school, after not being healthy in the tournament and missing out an NCAA title?
KM: I am. I feel like this was my greatest opportunity to fulfill my dreams. Obviously one of my goals was to win a national championship in college. But I do have other goals I want to accomplish, and one of them was getting to the NBA, so I don’t regret how anything happened.

Dime: What kind of conversations did you have with the other UNC guys who came out, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson?
KM: This started last year, when Z, John and H were all contemplating whether they were leaving or not. I was praying that they would stay for one more. I think that the lockout helped with their decision to come back, especially knowing that we were going to have a great team. With this year, we felt like, we tried that once. Let’s chase more dreams and goals that we had.

Dime: So are you worried at all about your rating in NBA 2k13?
KM: I am, definitely worried about it. In college I played for Twitter followers. I played well so I could get more followers. In the NBA, I gotta get my rating up. That’s all I’m worried about.

Dime: What do you think you’re going to be rated?
KM: I’m just hoping for a 70. If I can get a 70, I’ll be happy and just build from there. My passing better be at least a 95.

Dime: What have been your first purchases with NBA money?
KM: Well the first thing was finding a place to stay in Phoenix and a means of transportation. Other than that, I really haven’t spent too much else. But I’m going to spoil the hell out of my sisters. Good thing that they’re younger so spoiling them is like two or three hundred dollars so I should be alright.

Dime: What kind of stuff do you do pregame? Music, rituals, etc.
KM: Music-wise, I listen to a lot of Wale pregame. He gets me hyped. The Eleven One Eleven Theory, mixtapes. And last year in college I played Angry Birds before every game. Right now I’m really feeling Bejeweled.

Dime:How good at Angry Birds are you?
KM: You know it was frustrating. I could get three stars on almost every level, but literally for like two months, there were two parts of the game where I couldn’t get three stars, so I really just stopped playing because it was too frustrating.

Dime: How long would you play Angry Birds before games?
KM: Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Dime: How did Roy Williams feel about you sitting there playing Angry Birds for an hour?
KM: Well everybody pretty much did their own thing. I got my headphones on in my phone. He might think I’m reading inspirational quotes, and stuff, but everybody had their own way to get ready for the game and get to work.

Dime: When did it hit you that you’re actually an NBA player now?
KM: Didn’t hit me until today. Seeing my teammates, guys I played in high school with on the AAU circuit, guys in college that I met and played against, and to us in these NBA jerseys. This is the first time I’ve worn my jersey. Well, last night, at 1:30 in the morning. To see these guys wearing them, you finally realize, okay, we’re actually in the NBA.

Dime: Was there any rivalry among the UNC guys for who got drafted first?
KM: Not at all. We knew H [Harrison Barnes] would probably be the highest pick. We thought he was going to go somewhere from 2-5. Me, Z and John, depending on who you ask, were all in the same five pick area. We were just happy for each other. We all wanted to go lottery, of course, but it doesn’t always happen like that. We’re just happy we could represent our university well.

What do you think?

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