By the time today's athletes make it to the pros they're usually trained to be guarded, politically correct, and—quite frankly—boring. Not Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, though. From deciding to bypass college and play in Europe to rockin' the Gumby hairstyle that was around before this '90s baby was even born, dude has always marched to the beat of his own 808. It's only fitting that Jennings is the signature athlete for Under Armour, the performance brand that's jumping into the basketball-shoe game this fall. The NBA sophomore's first model, the Micro G Black Ice, will drop the second week of October. As he prepped for his shoe's release and the upcoming NBA campaign, Jennings sat down to discuss Black Ice, his goals for the 2010-11 season, and why he thinks LeBron James is a "funny dude"...

Interview by Ralph Warner

Complex: Why did you choose to sign a deal with Under Armour as opposed to a more traditional basketball brand?

Brandon: Well, I knew it was something different, something unique. You know, I'm different, I like to do different things. It's like how making my decision to go over to Europe was different. So, when I saw that Under Armour was interested I said, "Why not?" It was something different and it's up-and-coming. It was also great to bring the league something different from Nike and adidas.

Complex: Would you say that going against the grain has always been a part of your personality?

Brandon: Yeah, it's my life. So you know I'm going to make decisions that I think are best for me and my family. So, when I make these decisions, of course I'm going to ask people for advice, but at the end of the day, Brandon Jennings makes the decisions. And I feel like the decisions that I've made so far have been successful. So, at the end of the day, I'm not trying to say that people don't have the right opinion but I have to live my life. And right now, I'm living it and I'm loving it.

Complex: What does the Under Armour brand mean to you? How does it separate itself from other brands?

Brandon: Well, we're different. [In me] they have a guy that's the face of basketball, who's different and doing things in different ways. I'm sure it's kind of hard for them to do anything because I'm always changing up my style. [Laughs.] It's something that everybody's scared of. Everybody's scared of Under Armour, because they know that once Under Armour gets it, it's over.

Complex: What was your feeling when UA made you its signature athlete?

Brandon: It was a humbling experience. Everybody dreams about getting to the NBA and everybody dreams about having their own shoe. But when you're the face of a brand, you've got to kind of back off and let it all soak in a little bit.

Complex: How involved were you in the design process of Black Ice?

Brandon: I was really involved. If you look at the shoe right now, the stitching along the midsole represents my mother and my brother. The name itself, Black Ice, is from my favorite car-freshener brand. And the reason why it's all black is because I was so in love with the movie The Dark Knight that I told them, "We need to make a shoe that's all black."

Complex: The shoe looks like an all-purpose shoe that can be worn on the court or off. Is that something you emphasized?

Brandon: I told them, I'm only going to wear them if I can wear them with jeans, too. [Laughs.] If I couldn't wear jeans with them, I ain't wearing them.

Complex: What would you say was the best part of the design process?

Brandon: Just being able to have an input. Being able to share my thoughts and for them just to listen. Just like with the stitching on it—the fact that it represents myself, my mom, and my brother. I think that right there was awesome.

Complex: What was the biggest lesson you learned during your rookie season?

Brandon: Get a lot of rest—82 games is a lot. But overall, I think I did pretty good my rookie season. We had a successful year and made it to the playoffs. We also had 'em a little scared, because everybody was scared that we'd beat the Hawks. That's always a good thing.

Complex: What are you looking forward to the most in your sophomore season? We heard your goal is to average a double-double.

Brandon: I'm looking forward to everything. I feel like with the talent that we have, and the guards that we brought in, I think I'm able to average a double-double. We'll be getting Andrew Bogut back, signed John Salmons, Corey Maggete, Drew Gooden— you know we have a lot of pieces. So with those pieces, I feel like I can average a double-double this year.

Complex: What's the biggest part of your game that you've been working on this offseason?

Brandon: I think it's just been consistency. Being a consistent shooter, I've been working on my legs a lot more, so that's been getting me through. When game 50 comes, I want to be able to keep on finishing and lasting through the last 30 games. So, I've put a lot into my leg strength and conditioning this offseason.

Complex: Speaking of this offseason, what were your thoughts on LeBron's decision?

Brandon: I mean, you've got to think about it this way: He made everybody in Cleveland a lot of money, he did it for seven years, and he went to the NBA Finals. Sometimes you have to change. You know change is always good, and he made a decision that he felt was best for him and his family. So, good luck to him. I probably don't agree with the way he did it, though. You don't have to go live on national TV  just to have an hour-long press conference about where you're going. That's a funny guy for him to say, "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach." That's funny. I really got a great laugh out of that one. [Laughs.]

Complex: Who would you say was your biggest NBA influence while growing up?

Brandon: Allen Iverson, hands down. Everything, from the fact that he was short to bringing the tattoos and cornrows to the NBA. He made little guys like us go out there and believe that we could be great. So I'd have to say Allen Iverson, hands down.

Complex: What artists are currently on your iTunes playlist?

Brandon: I'm a little bit of an R&B guy, right now. You know I listen to The-Dream, I listen to Trey Songz. I like The-Dream because he's always talking about going through relationships with women and things like that. Trey Songz, you know that's late-night music, so I'm just going to leave it at that. [Laughs.] I'm from Compton so I've always got to rep my man The Game. My man Bow Wow, too, because that's one of my close friends. Kanye West, because he's different and I can't wait until his album drops. I also like Rick Ross, he's doing his damn thing. And also Drake, he came from nothing to something, and I like that.

Black Ice
AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE in October for $110