Brandon Jennings is the Early Candidate for Rookie of the Year…Interview of the Year, Not So Much.
November 6, 2009 – 10:20 am by Chris Fedor
I remember watching Brandon Jennings in High School on TV. He played at a high profile program, Oak Hill Academy, and he just looked like he was better than everyone that he was on the floor with. Early indications were that he was going to play his one season of college ball at Arizona. However, he shocked everyone by deciding to go over to Europe and play one season there. It didn’t look like it was a very bright idea at first on his part because he played out of position at times, spent most of his time struggling with his shot and never got consistent minutes to improve his game. However, with the way he has played to start his season, it looks like going overseas was exactly what Jennings needed to prepare himself for life in the NBA.
At one time, Jennings was thought to be a top-five pick, but because of the lackluster showing overseas and the fact that he couldn’t hit a jumper, Jennings slid to number ten and was the fourth point guard selected. Many people felt he was a risky pick, but the Bucks snatched him up and he has made them look brilliant so far for doing so. It’s only been three games into his young rookie season, but Jennings looks like nothing like a first year player on the court for Milwaukee. He’s averaging 22 points and 5.3 assists per game in nearly 35 minutes per night. It’s certainly too early to anoint him as the NBA’s top rookie and throwing out nonsensical comparisons as there is a lot of basketball left to be played, but his play is very impressive and he is making a lot of people forget about Ramon Sessions who left in free agency.
Brandon Jennings joined WSSP in Milwaukee with the Big Show to talk about his time spent over in Europe, what he learned from playing overseas, whether he expected this kind of start to his rookie campaign, playing in Milwaukee and who his top five point guard in the NBA are. (Note: After listening to his first response, I decided it would be best to remove the “you know’s” from the transcript because I counted six of them in the first sentence and needed to take off my shoes to count the rest of them in the next response. The total tally of you know’s by Brandon Jennings in this interview is a whopping 113!)
(Editor’s note: This is an indictment of his agent and the Bucks PR staff more than Brandon Jennings. He’s still a kid, but it’s their responsibility to add some media polish to him. They failed by about 109 you know’s!)
On whether he ever envisioned this kind of start to his season:
“Actually, no. I was just expected just to come in, try and fit my way in and just keep learning.”
On whether he feels like he has to pick up his scoring with Michael Redd injured:
“Not really. The shots were there. A lot of them were just floaters and things like that. I thought Andrew Bogut played really well that game. He had a double-double so we were just trying to establish him more that game.”
On whether he feels like he has rejuvenated Milwaukee with his play:
“Actually, no I don’t. I’ve just been trying to keep working hard, trying to keep my play up and just focus on the game of basketball.”
On what he learned from going over to Europe:
“Well, going to Europe, you’ve got to be mentally tough. It is an adjustment because you are a long way from home, you’re living in a different country, but I think it just made me stronger as a person and I think it just showed how mentally tough I was. Even though I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time, that adversity that I’ve taken not playing as much really just humbled me a lot. Now that I’m here in the NBA a lot of the things I see now, I’m used to.”
On where his mental toughness comes from:
“I think I learned it in Europe just playing against those guys. Those guys are like 27 and 30. Over in Europe it’s more physical. You can grab, you can push, you can nearly punch a guy out if you wanted to. You can do all those things. I think just coming back over here now a lot of guys can’t touch and grab. Also the physicalness is nothing compared to overseas.”
On playing in a small market like Milwaukee:
“Actually, I love it. It’s a laid back town. I’m able to go out without getting harassed or anything like that. The only thing people say is ‘good luck this year, thanks for coming to the Milwaukee Bucks, hopefully you can lift our team up and things like that.’ Milwaukee’s been good to me so far.”
On whether he thinks he is a top five point guard:
No. Not at all. My top five would have to be Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash and I like Chauncey Billups.”
“On whether or not his confidence has returned after losing some if it overseas:
“Yes. My senior year in high school I averaged 35 points per game. I broke the single scoring record with 63 points in a game. That was the game where I hit 13 threes. There I had my confidence and everything. Then in Europe I wasn’t playing my position, I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time, so I wasn’t able to do what I was able to do.”
Listen to Brandon Jennings on WSSP in Milwaukee with The Big Show
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