NEW YORK — Dion Waiters was at the Westin Hotel in Times Square, Manhattan, on Wednesday afternoon to answer questions before the NBA Draft tomorrow night in Newark. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: What is going to be the biggest adjustment in the NBA?
A: Probably the speed. It’s more faster. A lot of guys are stronger. You have to adapt to it quick. But at the same time, you got to take your time, don’t try to rush nothing, just let the game come to you.
Q: You came off the bench at Syracuse. Are you trying to be a starter in the NBA?
A: I’m striving to be a starter. At Syracuse, I had to play that role because of the situation I was in. Coming behind two players that had been there before and had been there for a while. I had to adapt to it. As a freshman coming in, you’re used to everything going your way, being top 15 in the country. I didn’t know how to handle it. My second year, coming in, I already knew my role, I just had to work hard and when coach called my name, I had to be ready.
Q: Are you going to be a point guard or more of a combo guard?
A: I can score the ball really well. But at the end of the day, I know I can play the point guard position. I’m just trying to go into a situation where they can use me the most.
Q: Your cousin, Scoop Jardine, broke his foot during a predraft workout. Did you speak to him?
A: It was tough. It messed my day up. I didn’t know what to say. I just told him that I’d be there for him, to keep his head up. It really knocked me back a couple of steps. I couldn’t believe it. I knew he worked so hard to get where he at. Just to hear that, it really messed my mood up. I told him to keep his head up, stay confident, rehab, and do what he needs to do to get back.
Q: What did you take away from your experience at Syracuse?
A: The good and the bad. I went there as a boy and left as a man. That’s the biggest thing. Coach Boeheim helped me mature faster. Just everything.
Q: Are you nervous about the draft yet?
A: It’s regular to me. Like I said, it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m just going through the motions. Hopefully tomorrow I won’t get too nervous. I just have to let it come.
Q: What will you get with your first paycheck?
A: I don’t know. Probably something nice for my mom. I don’t want to get her nothing too crazy where she can’t enjoy it. Just surprise her with something. I don’t know.
Q: Could you see yourself being in this position after struggling your freshman year?
A: Honestly, I could. The work I put in after the season going to the gym 3-4 times a day, I just had this feeling in my mind that I knew I was going to have a breakout season. I just kept working. I changed my diet. Got in the gym 3-4 times a day. When I went back to Syracuse, I was in tip-top shape. Lost weight. My knee wasn’t bothering me anymore. I was just ready to go.
Q: Was it tough not being a starter your sophomore year?
A: It’s tough but coming into the season, me and coach talked and we came to an agreement. I’d work hard and continue to play defense I’ll play more. That was my main focus to come in there and play defense and to try to change the game. I knew my offense would take care of itself, but I had to work hard at the defensive end.
Q: What is the best case for you?
A: I’m just trying to go to the best situation that’s right for me, the perfect fit. So if that’s 5, 10, 14, it don’t matter to me. So long as I go to a situation where I get a chance to play.
Q: Do you think playing in the Big East prepared you for the NBA?
A: The Big East is the best conference. Day in and day out every game was tough. We had no easy games. We probably made it look easy toward the end, but it definitely wasn’t easy.
Q: People have compared you to the Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade. What do you think of that?
A: I’m honored to be in any discussion with Dwayne Wade, two time champion. Just hearing things like that make me want to be better than D-Wade. So I just have to continue to work hard and let everything else take care of itself.
Q: Why haven’t you worked out for NBA teams?
A: I didn’t have to. I don’t know. You have to ask my agent.
Q: What advice did Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim give you?
A: Coach Boeheim just said to soak everything up. I worked hard to get where I’m at and he said to enjoy. Enjoy your process, and that’s pretty much it, and he’s there for me if I needed it.