The NBA Draft is what sweet dreams are made of. It's a special night when all that hard work put in from a very young age finally pays off. They have probably imagined hearing their name called and maybe even how the handshake with commissioner David Stern will go down. It is a magical, once-in-a-lifetime moment for all of these upcoming rookies and the beginning of many fantastic professional careers.
Earlier this week, we spoke with Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Shane Larkin, Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee, and Raul Neto at the NBA Pre-Draft Luxury Gifting and Style Suite from Conversion Sports and Entertainment, produced and organized by CC Carnie to see what they had to say about everything from the random questions they had to answer during the NBA Draft interview process to what album they simply can’t live without.
Interviews by Rafael Canton (@RafelitoC7)
What has the draft process been like for you this week?
Alex Len: It’s been tough. The last two months have been difficult because I’ve had to travel a lot and I was on crutches. It’s been tough to get around places like airports, but it’s been an exciting time, with my dreams coming true. I brought my family here and we just can’t wait ‘til Thursday night.
Shane Larkin: It’s been cool. I’m really chill about it. My last workout, I was just feeling good and I felt like I did my best in all of the workouts. I gave everything I had, so I have no regrets. I hadn’t been nervous or anxious, but now that I’m actually here in New York, the nerves are kind of kicking in because you don’t know where you’re really going to go. It’s been cool, but you never know with this whole process.
Cody Zeller: It’s been enjoyable. It’s been crazy with a lot of interviews and media photo shoots, but I'm just trying to enjoy it.
Raul Neto: It was a very good experience. I practiced with guys who are going to play in the NBA, and I think I proved a lot this summer.
We were in a room like this, and they asked me, 'how many basketballs do you think fit in this room?' I’m sitting there, like 'how am I supposed to know that?'
What has been the hardest part of the draft process?
Nerlens Noel: I would say that there hasn’t been a hard part. I’ve just been enjoying it and taking it day by day. I want to remember this because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Victor Oladipo: Just being a little bit anxious getting to that day. Thursday is the day that you’ve been dreaming about all of your life and for it to actually be less than a week away, I have some butterflies. But it’s an exciting moment. I’m glad to experience it with my friends and my family.
Mason Plumlee: Just kind of letting go of where you’re going to end up because you only have so much control of that situation. You have to realize that it’s up to you only to a certain extent. You can work out well, interview well, but after that, it’s out of your hands. So it’s not like college, where you can pick your city, your coach and all that.
What do you think your reaction will be after you first hear your name called?
Noel: There will definitely be a lot of excitement. I’m going to be very anxious and nervous but to get it all over with will be a relief since it has been a long time coming.
Len: I don’t know. I’m trying to get it together. I might even cry.
Oladipo: My heart’s going to stop for a second. I’m just going to thank god, turn around and hug all of my family, go up there and not hug David Stern and I’ll have a big smile on my face. Looking forward to it.
Larkin: I was thinking about that the other day while talking with my family. I really don't know. I might drop a couple tears. All I know is that I’m going to be extremely happy, so that will be the best moment in my life.
Zeller: It’s going to be a surreal experience just because I’ve dreamed of being drafted and shaking David Stern’s hand and all that. It will be a great experience.
Plumlee: I’ll just be excited to throw the hat on and run up there.
Neto: I’m just going to hug my dad, who’s right here with me. I’m going to be very, very happy.
What’s the weirdest question that you’ve been asked during the NBA Draft interview process from teams?
Noel: They’ve all been pretty much the same in terms of questions and I’ve just been answering them all in the same way. I just want to show my personality.
Len: The weirdest question was “if you meet Barack Obama, what would you ask him?” and somebody asked me “how many basketballs could you fit in this room?”
Oladipo: I remember in one of the interviews, a coach asked me “what does a one-in-one mean to you?” I didn’t really understand that question and he just said, “it can mean a whole lot of things.” So it was kind of interesting. He wanted to be the one that they said asked a weird question. Other than that, it’s been a great process, and people have been just asking the same old questions on my background, and how I got to this point. It’s been all fun, and I’m just trying to enjoy this because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Larkin: I think I was interviewing with the Mavericks. We were in a room like this [the suite we were interviewing in], and they asked me, “how many basketballs do you think fit in this room?” I’m sitting there, like “how am I supposed to know that?” They were just like “take a guess.” I said like one hundred. I was off by like a thousand five hundred.
Zeller: Most of the time you meet with a psychologist and they ask you some weird ones. One of them asked me "how many basketballs could fit in the room?"
Plumlee: Dallas asked me why are manhole covers round and not square? and then they asked me what the word "recalcitrant" means. [Ed. Note: "Recalcitrant" means having an obstinate uncooperative attitude toward authority, according to Merriam-Websters Dictionary.]
What is the first thing you’re going to buy after you sign your first NBA contract?
Noel: I’m going to be very conservative and put a lot of my money in the bank, but I’m going to give my mom something nice.
Len: I probably will buy something for my mom. I don’t know what it will be yet, but something for my mom.
Oladipo: I might buy a vehicle, but I’m definitely going to save my money. I’ve been around a lot of people and I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum, so I’m going to be smart with it.
Larkin: I really don’t know yet. I’m sure it will be something nice, but I don’t know if it will be a car. We’ll see what happens when I get that check.
Zeller: Probably nothing. I don’t spend money, so I’ll probably just save it all.
Plumlee: I was on scholarship, but I still have some loans that I took out in college that I’m going to pay off.
Neto: I don’t have that in my mind, but I think I’m going to buy something for my family because they’ve been together with me for all of my career, so they deserve that and I’m going to buy something for them.
If we lost, he [Drake] could just sing or something and make it chill in the locker room.
What will you miss the most about the college experience?
Noel: Definitely the fans. I mean just the love that was given and playing in front of 24,000 people was great. Just the thrill and the excitement was great.
Oladipo: I’m going to miss everything. The fans, definitely playing in front of the Hoosier faithful. Interacting with them and how much love they showed us and playing in Assembly Hall. Some of my best memories are in there.
Larkin: The fans. Just because Miami didn’t have a lot of fans at the beginning of the year, but we just kept winning and then we became the No. 2 team in the country. Then, every game was sold out. We had like eight consecutive sellouts at home and that was something new for Miami. All of the support and love we received down in Miami this year was amazing.
Zeller: I think, off the court. Being at the Keller School of Business was an enjoyable experience.
So how did you and your family end up starting DistinXion and what does it mean to you?
Zeller: I’ve had so many people help me in a positive way growing up that it’s good for me to be able to give back to the kids. Through DistinXion, we do that. We teach a lot more than just normal basketball camps. We teach table manners, and how to shake someone’s hands. It’s more than basketball, and it’s good to influence kids.
If you could have any rapper as a teammate of yours, who would it be and why?
Noel: Probably Meek Mill because you can tell by his music how intense he is and how he really gets after it.
Len: I think Lil Wayne or Eminem would be a good addition to my team.
Oladipo: Jay-Z. It’s no question because I feel like he’ll find a way to help me win. I don’t know how it’s going to be, or what he’s going to do, but he’ll find a way to help me win.
Larkin: If I had any rapper, it’d have to be Drake. That’s my guy. He’s my favorite rapper, and favorite artist out there right now. Just for him to be in the locker room with his hype songs. If we lost, he could just sing or something and make it chill in the locker room.
If you could draft your top five female celebs, who would they be and in what order?
Noel: Beyoncé, No. 1. Rihanna, No. 2. Kim Kardashian. No. 4, Miley Cyrus, and Mariah Carey.
Len: Rihanna, Beyoncé, Angelina Jolie, and I can’t think of anyone else.
Oladipo: I’m a Meagan Good fan, Keke Palmer fan, and of course, the beautiful Miss Beyoncé. I’m a Kelly Rowland fan, and this is going to be a tough fifth one. I wish there was a top ten but my fifth one would have to go to Skylar Diggins. I’m a Skylar Diggins fan.
Larkin: No. 1 overall pick would definitely be Beyoncé. No. 2, I don’t know. It’s a drop-off after that. Beyoncé is top notch. There’s this chick named Ariana Grande. After that, I'd go old school with J. Lo. Next would be Halle Berry. Not as much now, but old school Halle. And Alicia Keys to top it off.
Plumlee: Eva Mendes, Meghan Markle, Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, and Oprah because she has all the money.
I would switch places with Jay-Z. No question. He’s just on another level, like that commercial he did during the NBA Finals.
If you were by yourself on an island, what three things would you take with you and why?
Noel: I would take my friend Ricky, my phone, and my charger.
Len: A basketball, a flashlight, and I’m not sure what else.
Oladipo: I would probably take a basketball, my iPad, my cellphone and I would be straight if I need to call someone SOS. I’d be good to get off the island, so that’s all I need.
Larkin: A basketball, my phone, and some J's. I love shoes.
Zeller: I would need a machete, a big tarp to make my house a little bit easier, and some string.
Plumlee: I would take straight survival gear and then I would take a Bible.
If you could only keep one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Noel: Probably J. Cole’s new album Born Sinner.
Len: Probably Drake’s album. Take Care was a pretty good album.
Oladipo: That’s tough. I’ll take it back. I like old school hip hop, like Biggie and 2Pac. That Biggie Ready To Die, I can’t live without that definitely. The crazy thing is that I was kind of late coming on to Biggie. I didn’t start listening to him until I was 13, 14, so ever since then I just fell in love with him and that album too.
Larkin: What was Drake’s last album? Take Care. I got to.
Zeller: I’m a country music fan, so probably anything by Kenny Chesney.
If you could switch places with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Noel: Jay-Z. I mean he’s not just a rapper. He’s got a lot of power in this world.
Len: Probably Leonardo Dicaprio. I like his acting and he makes pretty good movies.
Larkin: Jay-Z. Money, Power, and Beyoncé.
Plumlee: I’m not trying to sound narcissistic, but I don’t know if I would want to trade with anyone because I’m enjoying coming up. I don’t want to be up there already.
Oladipo: I would switch places with Jay-Z. No question. He’s just on another level, like that commercial he did during the NBA Finals. Just to live the life one day would be pretty cool. Plus, Beyoncé would be my wife, so I’d be straight [Laughs].