Getting to Know The 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team: Mason Plumlee
March 6, 2009 - Colorado Springs, Colo.
Mason Plumlee (Christ School / Arden, N.C.) is one of three 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team members with prior USA Basketball experience, and no doubt USA head coach John Olive will expect him to lead by example when the team reports for two days of practice on April 9 in Portland, Ore. But if the past is any indication, the World Select Team will have its hands full with the 6-10 forward who is a proven winner. Plumlee helped the USA to a silver medal at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Argentina, and he has led his high school team to three state titles and an impressive 99-8 record in his three seasons with Christ School. With his high school season over and the 12th annual Nike Hoop Summit just weeks away, Plumlee talked with USABasketball.com about his USA Basketball experience, his decision to attend Duke University and why his mom's food isn't always his favorite.
What does it feel like to be selected to your second USA Basketball team?
It's another big honor. I was ecstatic when I figured out more about it, but honestly on the front end, I didn't know as much about it as I did the 18-and-under team. I feel honored to be a part of the Nike Hoop Summit team, and I'm really looking forward to playing in the game.
Who are you most looking forward to playing with?
Probably John Wall. I think he is still looking at possibly coming to Duke, and I've played against him probably five or six times, but I've never had the chance to play with him.
From The Sideline
'I've coached for many years and had a lot of fine players, and Mason is as competitive a kid as I've ever coached. When he knows what his weaknesses are, or I point them out as his coach, he will work it to death. He came to us as a skinny 10th grader and his shot was not very good, he had side-spin on the ball and it was inconsistent. In season, out of season, he just constantly worked to improve. Mentally, whether it's a drill, 3-on-3 or 5-on-5, for three years he has just hated to lose. He is always working whatever angle, in a good way, to find a way to put his team on top. What that did for us, is it translated into three state championships. I don't think it's a surprise that he was a part of three winning teams. He is just a winner who will work his rear end off.
'Maybe the strongest part of his game is his ability to see things happen. He is a 6-11 guard. He is a wonderful passer and has a wonderful feel for the game. He handles the ball like a guard, he is also very good at involving his teammates. His three year high school career here, we were 99-8, playing a pretty high-level schedule. We could play him everywhere. We could post him up, we could play him at the top of the key, and he could bring the ball down in transition. He is a very versatile big man.
'He is a loyal friend, a very humble young man and someone that we have gotten numerous compliments on. He is pretty laid back. He is not the most talkative guy in a group. He was more of a leader with his actions, but he would pick his spots. When we needed a player to step up and be verbal, he didn't have any reservations about challenging his teammates. You knew when he spoke it was important to listen because he just doesn't ramble.'
- David Gaines, head coach
Did you watch last year?
I did watch a rerun of the game last year, and that was kind of the first time I had heard about it. And then once I got the information, I realized what a big deal it is. It was really neat to see some of the foreign players, especially since a couple of them went straight to the pros. You don't get to see those guys through AAU or anything. It was cool to see how the American players matched up against them.
As a member of the 2008 USA U18 National Team, what did you learn about international basketball?
It is completely different; everything from the ball to the rules. Little things like being able to knock the ball off the rim could end up determining the outcome of a game. They really stressed that to us with the U18 team, and I'm sure they will do that with the Hoop Summit team. It's just different. I think all-and-all, I like it. But I think we have a really good group of guys, and I don't think it will be that difficult of an adjustment.
Are you looking forward to playing in the Rose Garden?
I have never played in an NBA arena before, and I really am looking forward to it. I think my mom will be coming, and we have family in Seattle, and they are going to come down to Portland for the game, too.
How would you describe you game?
I just like to defend and rebound, and I try to be a playmaker when I get the ball. Those are the main things.
What area of your game are you most focused on improving right now?
The main thing is just getting my body ready for college, trying to stay in the weight room and put on some muscle and strength so I can go into college in shape and ready for the conditioning.
What is your least favorite workout or drill?
I wouldn't say it's a workout or a drill, but it's the nutritional aspect. My mom is a dietitian, and she's always trying to make me eat and drink all this nasty stuff. I'm always telling her, 'Mom, I can't do it.'
What motivates you?
Just knowing that you don't get many opportunities, especially in games. You work so hard to prepare for games year-round, and I just want to know that I did everything I could to be ready. You never know when your last game could be.
You led Christ School to three consecutive state titles. Can you talk about what it felt like to end your high school career with your third title?
As a team, we have about 10 seniors. I know that we all just wanted to end the season the right way. We all had such high expectations going into the season that if we were to not win state this year, it would have been a disappointment. It was almost a relief to win it. Everybody was happy and also a little sad because it was our last game together, and we have all been together for so long. We were definitely happy that we were able to end with a win.
*Christ School finished its 2008-09 season with a 36-2 record and captured the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 3A state title with a 62-54 win over Ravenscroft School, which featured Plumlee's USA U18 teammate and future Dukie Ryan Kelly, on Feb. 28. It was the third consecutive state title for Plumlee, who was named to the 2009 NCISAA 3A Boys All-State Team.
What is your favorite high school memory?
Probably my first year, my sophomore year, when we won state because we weren't supposed to win state at all. We were one of the biggest underdogs. And I was playing with my older brother (Miles). He was junior and I was a sophomore. That was our first year in North Carolina, and we were able to win it. That was huge. My brother had like 20-plus in the final game, and in the final four I had like 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists or something. My best game of the year was in that final four, and his best game of the year was in that final game.
Why did you decide on Duke?
Really, it was just Coach K and the coaching staff. There are a lot of good schools that recruited me in terms of location and academics. A lot of that stuff was tempting, but after I talked to Coach K and got to know him, I just knew that was where I wanted to go. Going there you know you are going to win and you are going to have a chance to win national championships and ACC championships. Also, playing for a coach who has coached the best players in the world, like LeBron and Kobe, he knows what he is doing. You don't have to worry about him screwing you up or anything.
Did you watch the 2008 Olympics? What was your favorite moment?
Just watching them play together. They had so many great players, and it's not always easy to get so much talent to play well together. I though Coach K did a great job with that.