Getting to Know The 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team: Abdul Gaddy
Feb. 26, 2009 - Colorado Springs, Colo.
Early this April, Abdul Gaddy (Bellarmine Prep H.S. / Tacoma, Wash.) will make the short trip down I-5 from Tacoma, Wash., to Portland, Ore. He will arrive as one of 10 elite members of the 2009 USA Basketball Junior National Select Team, and he and his USA teammates will have just two days to gear up for an international showdown against the World Select Team in the 2009 Nike Hoop Summit on April 11 at the Rose Garden.
While Gaddy is looking forward to wearing a 'USA' across his chest, he has short-term goals as well, such as leading his high school team to the state tournament. With just one district playoff game remaining in his way, Gaddy spent some time with USABasketball.com to talk about the 2009 USA roster, who he is as a basketball player and what he loved about the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team.
What does it feel like to be selected to this team?
It's a great honor to represent my country. It's just great for me. I've worked hard for it. When I found out I was really excited. It's one of the greatest things that has happened to me so far in my career.
Who are you most looking forward to playing with?
I am looking forward to playing with Avery (Bradley). He used to be one of my teammates, so it will be really great to play with him again. Mike Moser, he's one of my good friends. John Wall, he is another friend of mine. They are all great players.
wonderful, but what makes it even more
enjoyable is that he is just a really great
kid. His teammates love playing with him,
and he is a very likable person in our
like that. He is a very intelligent basketball
player, and a team player. And he's tall. He
is 6-4, and for a point guard, that's pretty
good, and he's not done growing. He still
has a baby face.
years old. In reality he should be a junior,
and that's because he skipped the third
grade because he was doing so well in
school. Really, it's pretty unique. I think one
of the things that sets him apart is that he
thinks the game really well, both offensively
and defensively. For him, I think the game
really slows down in his mind. He seems to
be able to think one, two and three steps
ahead of the competition pretty consistently.
He is very skilled. He dribbles very well, he
passes extremely well, he shoots very well.
He is skilled, he's intelligent and he's
Bellarmine Prep High School
Who came up with the nickname Fire and Ice for you and Avery?
My coach made it up - coach Salazar. He thought Avery was always aggressive on the defensive end and offensive end. I complimented him because I was more cool and relaxed on the court. I didn't show as much emotion, whereas Avery was always aggressive. That is how we got the nicknames and everybody, the newspapers and stuff, kind of just went with it.
Did you watch the Nike Hoop Summit last year?
I did. I watched the replay of it. It was a really good game. I was familiar with a couple of those players, and I liked it a lot.
Have you ever played international basketball before?
A little bit. I played in the Global Challenge last summer. That was competitive, playing against the Puerto Rican players. They were pretty good. That really surprised me to see that players were that good from different countries.
Are you looking forward to playing in an NBA arena?
I have never played in an NBA arena before. It will be real fun. It will be a new experience for me, and I'm going to really enjoy it.
How would you describe your game?
I try to be a pure point guard. I try to get my teammates involved. That's how my parents always brought me up, to always get somebody else involved. Not to always be about yourself, be a person for others. I kind of try and take that with me on the court. I try and take advantage of opportunities to make my teammates better. But I also try to just run a team. If I can score, I'm gonna go score. I look for my teammates, and I try to get assists and rebounds and be a great all-around player. On the court, you're just trying to get wins. That's is the main thing.
What area of your game are you most focused on improving right now?
Right now, I'm trying to focus on becoming a better all-around player because the college game is much different. It's much more physical, you have to be more fundamental, and I really have to work on the defensive end. That's where you can really get exposed at the college level. So, I'm really trying to work on that side of the ball.
What is your least favorite workout or drill?
I would say my least favorite is probably defensive drills. I don't really like to do full-speed defensive slides up and down the court. That will get your legs tired. Especially since I have to keep doing it over and over. It's tough.
What motivates you?
My motivation really is just being a role model for my little brother (Donald). He watches me all the time, and we always watch basketball together. And also my grandmother. She passed a while ago, but she used to always talk about basketball with me. She was kind of like my best friend. I always think of her when it comes to basketball, just pushing through all the little things. There is always a lot of adversity in basketball, so when I think of her, she always makes me stay passionate to push hard.
My goal is to place at state. We are trying to get to the state tournament. We have to win two in a row (to get to the state tournament), so we kind of have a tough road, but it's definitely doable. I've done it before. A lot of people didn't even think we were going to make it out of our league, so we already did what people thought we couldn't do. Now, we are just trying to qualify for state. We just have to take it one step at a time. I think we can be state champions. We just have to put the work in.
What is your favorite high school memory?
There was one game last year when I scored like 42 points, and then Avery scored like 38. It was just weird. It was like switching off plays. One play he'd score, then I would score. The crowd was just chanting. They would call my name, and I would score. Then they would call his name, and he would score. It just kept going like that the whole game. It was just really fun.
Why did you decide to play at the University of Washington?
Well, it's close to home. I'm going to be with my family. A lot of people talked to me about how it's a great school, with a great academic program. I like coach Romar a lot. He's a big reason for my choice. He's a good guy, great coach. I can really relate to him. He's a good role model for me. (Romar has twice served as a USA Basketball assistant coach, and in 2006, led the USA Men's U18 National Team to a 5-0 record and gold medal at the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.)
Another big factor is that Isaiah Thomas goes there. He is one of my closest friends. He is like a brother to me. He's a person I look up to because he is from this area. We're just trying to make it to the NBA, me and him. We're just trying to show players it doesn't matter where you are from, you can make it from anywhere.
Yes, I did watch. One of my favorite players, Chris Paul, was on the team. I watched him and how seriously he took his leadership role. And just how everybody sacrificed their personal game for the team was impressive It was really inspiring. It shows that it takes a team to win. It's not about one player. It's about representing your country. Especially players like Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, to see them sacrifice their game for the team was just like, wow. That shows that if they can do it, we can do it, too.
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