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Transcript: Rick Pitino talks NBA Draft, his freshman class, and gives a team update

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the full transcript from yesterday's show. There's a lot to digest here.

Have you been staying in contact with Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier during this time?

I have. More so with Terry because I've probably spoken with 12 scouts or general managers in the last week regarding Terry. And I've spoken to maybe eight about Montrezl.

Are there two teams that you think fit Harrell and Rozier better than others?

Well when you get into the 20s, it's not so much their needs as it is the best player available. When you get in the 20s, you're looking at free agents as well as draft picks so you're just going to take the best basketball player available, not so much need.

What player stands out to you as a guy you really developed?

Well you'd like to think there's a large body of work. One guy that stands out to me -- and I'll give you an example: I walked into his high school in Chicago, and the high school coach said to me, "Rick Pitino, what the hell are you doing here? There's no Antoine Walkers in this gym." I said, "no I'm here for your big guy, Nazr Mohammed. I wanted to check him out." And he started laughing hysterically. He said, "you're more than welcome to watch, but Nazr Mohammed, the biggest school that's taking a look at him, and they don't think they'll take him, is Chicago Illinois Circle."

So I watched him play, gave him a scholarship, and the coach I think thought I was crazy. Nazr, I think, spent 17 years in the NBA. As much as they say about guys losing their money and everybody going bankrupt, Nazr Mohammed is the direct opposite of that because he probably is one of the wealthiest guys in the NBA.

How much have you talked to Wayne during this process? Could he be another guy who plays somewhere professionally for a long time like Larry O'Bannon?

You know, Larry O'Bannon, I'm glad you mention him because there's four guys on that 2005 Final Four team that have had long, outstanding careers. And also, did you all watch Danny Sheas today on ESPN?

We did not

Well he wrote a book. I forgot the title of it, but I mentioned it to Jordan because I want to give it to every team member. And his whole thing was that it's almost like the whole system is for every NBA player to go broke. And I think he called it something broke. He thinks the system is set up for every NBA player to go broke. By that he means, you start out with the realtor who knows you're going to make all these millions, so rather than sell you a $800,000 to $1 million home, they sell you a $5 million to $10 million home because they know you're going to have to sell that home some day and they're going to get to be the realtors to sell it as well.

The same thing with insurance, the same thing with instead of selling you a Lexus they sell you a Mercedes. So it's almost set up for the athlete and the family to go broke, because now you develop a lifestyle, while you're in the NBA, of living a certain way and family members living a certain way. Then you turn 33, 34, 35, and you want to keep living that same lifestyle, and you've actually saved $5 - $7 million, but that's not going to last too long because if you put it in the bank you're only going to get 1 percent, or if you put it in a mutual fund you may only get 7 percent, and it's taxable.

So he made some great points about understanding what money is all about. He had some great terms that he used, and I thought it was a really, really special interview that he gave. People need to read that book, because whoever gets drafted should read Danny Shea's book.

Now with Terry and Montrezl, I think they're going to be terrific pros. But that 2005 team, you've got Taquan Dean, Larry O'Bannon, Tello Palacios -- who just won the championship -- you had Francisco Garcia who's played all those years and I think wants to play one more year, and you had Otis George who I think is still playing. I want to tell you something about that team: they're all worth well north of seven figures, saved in the bank.

Should there be a mandatory money management course for potential professional athletes?

Yeah, well he was talking about being able to have financial intelligence -- it escapes me at the moment the exact term that he used. But his whole concept was that you've got to work at something from 35 to 70, and you better understand the financial world and you better understand how to get a job.

You know I was speaking today, Chris Carr, who I coached for a short time with the Boston Celtics, was telling me kind of some sad stories. Remember Latrell Sprewell who made the comment that he wasn't going to accept  $5-7 million from a team, I think it was the New York Knicks, because it was an insult? Well Latrell Sprewell, he just saw him last year, and he was working at Costco. And then he told me another player who played at Indiana and made in excess of $40 million was working as the doorman at a club. So it's interesting that people don't understand -- I know one, I don't want to embarrass the man, but I know one great New York Knick who has a difficult time paying his union dues in the NBA. A legendary New York Knick.

So as much as it is -- you need to understand finances, you need to understand how to run your finances, and you really need to understand how to live a humble life. Nazr Mohammed, in the NBA for 17 years or 18 years, he lived a very humble life. I don't want to tell you what he's worth, but it's north of $30 million. He was living basically off of his per diem.

Any team updates after your most recent practice?

Obviously we've only had a couple practices, and I'm not going to give you my over-exuberance of, because I love their attitude, but these young men are of the highest character I've dealt with. There's a lot of Peyton Sivas on this team in terms of high moral and just tremendous character in the way that they act.

You know (director of academic services) Anthony Wright, I thought he was going to tell me all about Donovan Mitchell and Trey Lewis attitude wise, but he mentioned Ray Spalding. And I was kind of caught off guard because Ray is not as quiet as Quentin Snider, but he's sort of got Larry O'Bannon's personality. He said to Anthony, and Anthony repeated it to me, he said "Anthony, do you have children?" He said no I don't, why do you ask? And Ray said, "well I just wanted to wish you a happy Father's Day." Anthony was like, boy there's not too many guys who would have hit me with that.

So what I'm impressed with is the high character of these individuals like Donovan Mitchell, like Trey, like Damion Lee, who I speak to all the time, and certainly Ray Spalding. What I'm impressed with right now is not the play of Ray Spalding, but the potential of Ray Spalding physically. I've not seen too many 6'10 guys run like him. I've not seen too many 6'10 guys with a 7'5 wingspan -- remember Montrezl Harrell is 7'4, Ray is 7'5 and a half. So I'm very impressed with these freshmen -- Ray Spalding, Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel -- are very impressive people who just have great character, great moral fiber and great character to them.

On the improved state of high school hoops in the area

It's interesting because we're a basketball state. We're one of the few, last basketball states in terms of the collegiate and high school level. Everything else has turned to football. We're great in football as well, but basketball is coming back in this state. There are some players in this state at a very young age that I'm very impressed with right now.

I know the Card Chronicles of the world, you know, they say I've offered scholarships to certain people. And Card Chronicle is usually accurate in knowing what I'm thinking. How they get that information, I don't know. Mike must be bugging my children, I think, bugging their phones. Because he gets the information -- my children must speak to him. I tell them, "stay away from Rutherford and stop telling him information."

On Chinanu Onuaku shooting underhanded free-throws and making the USA U-19 team

Yeah, what were his final stats today?

I saw he had nine boards at one point and was 3 for 4 at the line, but that was in the middle of the game, so I didn't get a final line

Boy you are really slipping, man. That's not the Mike Rutherford I know. I guess being a radio star celebrity has really got you coasting a little bit. You're not that poor, hungry, driven man I knew once.

No, Nanu is -- I spoke to Archie Miller and he told me that he really was impressed with his work ethic. Nanu came in in bad shape, and now he's in very good shape. The fact that Mangok made the Australian team and Nanu made this team, we're very impressed with that.

I tell you, we came in today and we had a great workout today. I was real, real impressed with the attitude of our guys and with the work ethic of our guys. I'm gonna tell you something, Trey Lewis, he's as good a leader as I've seen in quite some time. I'm really impressed with him.

Is the characterization of fundamentals disappearing in American basketball fair?

Well I don't know if that's totally fair. It's like the people who say AAU does more harm than good. Well there are a lot of AAU coaches who do a lot of good. I know the AAU coach of Takeover, where Kenny Johnson was working. That coach is really, really good, tough on his kids, flat out coaches really well. There are some that are good and some that aren't very good, and the same is true of high school coaches, college coaches or pro coaches.

There's a lot of good out there right now. There are some that aren't teaching the fundamentals, but there are a lot of high school coaches who are teaching the fundamentals. Certainly the young man that we have, Ray Spalding, this young man is well-schooled, well-drilled fundamentally, and so is Quentin Snider. So there are a lot of real good high school coaches out there, and we've got the results of a lot of those coaches. Donovan Mitchell's high school coach at Brewster is outstanding as well. That's why these guys are so good character wise. Character wise, I've gotta give their parents a lot of credit. Fundamentals wise, I've gotta give their high school coaches a lot of credit.

I know you're not big on social media, but did you catch the David Levitch to Jaylen Johnson alley-oop?

You know I don't mind that stuff on social media. I'm actually very bullish on certain parts of social media. I'm not really big on tweeting. I don't mind Instagram because it's sending pictures, I like that a little bit. I don't like tweeting because you're almost saying like, "look at me, look at what I have to say." I don't like that. I like you guys tweeting, because that's your industry. But I don't like players tweeting and saying, "look what I have to say."

You know I have certain high school kids that go around saying, "hey can you tell the Card Nation to follow me?" So they can tell people how many people are following them. That type of stuff, that ego-centric stuff is not good for humility and not good for a person. So I don't mind social media, it's just certain parts of it are not for me.

How's your Spanish coming along for the Puerto Rico gig?

Well I've got buenos dias down and buenos noches down. I've got a few "good mornings" and "good byes." I am working on Rosetta Stone for about an hour a day. Balado speaks so damn fast in Spanish that I can't follow him. I tell him, "slow down, Mike." And he says coach it sounds fast, but it's really not.

I have to redeem myself. I've got Chinanu Onuaku's final stats from today: 9 points, 12 rebounds, 3 of 4 from the foul line, 3 of 5 from the field.

How many minutes did he play?


Well how about 12 rebounds in 16 minutes? That's pretty darn good. You know the NBA likes to see one rebound every 2:45-3 minutes. So that's darn good, I'm proud of Nanu there.

Nanu drew high praise during the USA tryouts for his motor and work ethic. Is he doing the things so far this summer that you want to see him do?

Well that's what one year of being a Louisville man is all about. You know, you become a Louisville man and you learn what hard work is all about.

For every McDonald's All-American and every great player, there's the Russ Smith story -- a 2-star athlete -- there's the Larry O'Bannon story who comes as a walk-on. What we try to teach -- I guess Sporting News did an article and I said I had 8 guys that could potentially be professional basketball players. And yeah, I look at this team, and I'm not saying they all could potentially be NBA players, but they could be Tello Palacios and they could be Larry O'Bannons or even Junior Mohammed's still over there playing, and they could be guys playing overseas and doing quite well. Having a great living and prospering in life, learning to speak other languages, learning other cultures.

Then there are also the Brad Gianinys of the world, who are on Wall Street right now and, I don't want to embarrass Brad, but making great livings. Or the Will Scotts of the world who are research analysts on Wall Street. Or guys like Luke Hancock and Mike Marra who are working in town here. Tim Henderson, doing very well in the insurance business. Stephan Van Treese who's playing overseas in Japan. These are guys who are going to have long lives, not just in basketball but in investments, and that's what it's all about: being Louisville men, being successful, and carrying yourself with great humility.

Any players who have surprised you with their improvement so far?

Well, Quentin Snider doesn't surprise me because he's a gym rat. He's always in the gym, always working on his game. Jaylen Johnson has got to get his body fat down. He's a hard worker, but his body fat is way too high right now.

Quentin Snider, everybody says when he got his chance he delivered. And yes, without question that's true. But the reason Quentin Snider delivered is around February, he was 183 pounds and we asked him to get down to 173. When he lost those 10 pounds he became a lot quicker and a lot better. That's been the key. So he's staying at 173, and he's also very strong in the weight room. I'm very impressed with Q, because he's a gym rat. He's always in the gym, working on his game, working on his arc. He's someone who I know is going to deliver because he puts the time and effort into it. These freshmen are the same way, and I'm very impressed with them.

This freshman class now, I'm not going to tell you they're blowing me away in the gym right now, but they're blowing me away with their work ethic. This is not like last year where I said Chinanu's gotta get in better shape and the young man from Nebraska's gotta get in better shape -- Akoy Agau who's at Georgetown now but who still keeps in touch with us. I just don't have a whole lot of negatives that I can say about this class, this class is pretty darn special.

On the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis and getting back to the Bahamas

I'm very excited to get back to the Bahamas. I'm very excited to go to the Barclays Center this year, very excited to go back to the Garden. You know I've been coaching over 40 years now, and this will be the toughest road schedule I've ever played in my lifetime. When you talk about at Michigan State, at Kentucky, at the Barclays Center playing against St. Louis, at Duke, at North Carolina, at Virginia, at North Carolina State, at Miami, at Pittsburgh. You know, those "ats" are pretty darn tough.

We've always been a good road team because we've always had a lot of veterans who have understood what Louisville basketball's all about, and they take great pride in winning on the road. So we've gotta build that culture this year, and that's why Puerto Rico is so important to us. To go over to Puerto Rico -- and now I'm picking the national team right now and putting it together and I can tell you that if we can beat the national team one time, I'll be very surprised. Because you're talking about men that are 32, 35, 36 year old guys who are professional players overseas and in the NBA. They're gonna go against Moe Harkless, they're gonna go against JJ Barea, they're gonna go against a lot of guys who are playing professional basketball and who are very good at it. So if we can beat some of those guys one or two games, we'll need to give Kenny Johnson, Ralph Willard and David Padgett a raise, because Mike and I will be coaching the Puerto Rican team.

Did you enjoy the Taylor Swift concert or the Pitbull concert more?

I didn't like Taylor Swift as much as I liked Pitbull because I couldn't sit down at Taylor Swift. They stood up the entire 2 1/2 hours and I had to hold my grandchild for 2 1/2 hours. But she put on a great concert, and we've got some great concerts here.

Certainly I'm looking forward to the NBA Draft. Somebody asked me the question today of who I think is going to win Rookie of the Year. If I had to pick one guy I'd pick D'Angelo Russell to win Rookie of the Year. Or, according to Ralph Willard, who was scouting for the Thunder and watching a lot of film -- I can't say his last name right right, but Mario Hezonja. He said he's the most talented offensive player in the draft, and Ralph is a great evaluator of talent. Now he's not sure he's going to come over here and play when he gets drafted, but he thinks he's the most talented offensive player in the draft.

Thanks as always, coach

Guys, let's talk from Puerto Rico because I'm heading there on Tuesday or Wednesday, so let's talk from Puerto Rico.