ORLANDO — Former Syracuse star Kris Joseph is playing in the 2017 Orlando Pro Summer League for the Charlotte Hornets. We caught up with Joseph to talk about his overseas career, Mike Hopkins leaving for Washington, and his reasons for attending Syracuse.
The Juice Online: Kris, you had one of your best days here in Orlando. You seemed a lot more comfortable and confident today.
Kris Joseph: It felt good. The coaches did a good job of calling a couple of plays for me to come off staggers and things like that, so I could get a couple of open shots which I’m really comfortable taking. Seeing one fall leads to you feeling a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident in the next one. That’s what it was today. I was feeling a lot more confident as soon as I came in.
TJO: Talk about your journey since leaving Syracuse and where you are in this summer league.
KJ: The journey was good. I was drafted in the second round (of the NBA Draft). From there, I’m not going to say up and down, but you learn a lot of things to that point. I was able to go overseas and develop as a player. I think that really helped me for this opportunity over here. I was able to develop over there and work on certain things. I decided not to do things like the D-League anymore, more for a financial standpoint. When I was in the D-League too, D stands for development. So everything helped me so far, it aided me in becoming the player I am today.
TJO: What’s it like being able to talk to Mike (Gbinije) and Rak (Christmas) since you’ve been out here?
KJ: I’ve seen Rak. I’ve seen Mike. It’s good to see guys from your alma mater playing out here. Rak is good guy and I stay in communication with him a lot. If anybody, I speak to him the most. A couple of walk-ons, Griffin Hoffman and Matt Lyde(-Cajuste) as well. I like talking to Rak, picking his brain, just keeping him motivated through whatever he’s going through as well. It’s not always going to be a straight line. I just try to be that person he can talk to and keep him level-headed. I’m always going to be a big bro. I was a senior when he got there. I’m always going to be there for him. I know James (Southerland) is in Utah right now playing. The guys are getting ready for (The Basketball Tournament) back in Syracuse. So I’m always rooting for my Syracuse guys.
TJO: What was your reaction when Mike Hopkins left? Have you spoken to him since it happened?
KJ: I haven’t spoken to him personally. I wrote him on Twitter. I just saw a picture of him and his family on Twitter just now. Hop didn’t recruit me, but he took me in like his own. That’s what it was like at Syracuse. Literally a family. As far as your question goes, I was surprised personally when I heard the news. I was expecting Hop to come to the head coaching role next year. When it broke that he was going to be the head coach at Washington, I wasn’t understanding what was going on. I thought it was a hoax. I had to go on Google and find out it was the truth. But I’m happy for Hop. He works extremely hard and is always going to get those guys ready and where they need to be as far as a team, as far as the school. He’s going to lead those guys.
TJO: Who were the main guys recruiting you and what enticed you to go to Syracuse?
KJ: Coach Rob Murphy recruited me. I went to high school in Washington, DC. He came up to see me and he was speaking to my family. One of the main things for me is that Carmelo (Anthony) was, and is one of my favorite players in the NBA. He went to Syracuse. Syracuse is a 3 1/2 hour drive from Montreal, four hours if you’re driving slow. That gave my family an opportunity to come see me play, which they did throughout my four years. That was big for me. They could get in a car and not a flight. My whole family. My mom, my sister, nieces and nephews for my family to come see me play.