One hundred of the best players from the DMV area came together for the The Red Bull Midnight Run in Washington, D.C. earlier this month to compete for a chance to eventually be one of the final eight players chosen to represent their city in the national finals in Brooklyn. There were players like NBA D-Leaguer Mike Anderson, who flew in from Europe the day before to attend, Baby Shaq, the legendary streetball player, Corey Allmond, the man who once broke the Rupp Arena record for triples in one game and even John Wall, who came in to help judge the talent.
While the action was fast and aggressive – you can check out a full recap here – I had a chance once it was all over to sit down and talk to some of the standouts…
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Dime: Where are you playing at right now? Around D.C.?
BS: Yeah, I just got finished playing in the ACPBL. We just won the championship. We are chilling out right now. We gotta play in a Weekend Warriorz tournament in North Carolina. That’s June 1 so we are just chilling out until then.
Dime: Are you playing in the Goodman League this summer?
BS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The outdoor Goodman League and the Urban Coalition, the indoor league, I’m playing in both.
Dime: Did you come down here with a group of five guys?
BS: Yeah, my teammates from the season I just played in. We went in there to get them some exposure because I already did my part with Red Bull. I just came by to show love and let my boys get on.
Dime: How did you find out about this?
Corey Allmond: They called me. I got a call from Red Bull, asking if I wanted to do it. I was for it.
Dime: Was this what you expected with the talent?
CA: I knew a lot of the guys. We played in a tournament earlier today and we won it today so I kinda knew who was coming. I didn’t know all of the out of state guys were coming. I knew they had a bus coming, but I didn’t know where they were from. But it was good, it was good. Guys that we already know… guys we didn’t know about. It was good competition.
Dime: You come with anyone you knew?
CA: I came with Boo Jackson. But I didn’t play with him. I actually played with some others guys. We did pretty well, won our first two games and then lost to [Dele] Ojo and them. They was beating everybody, the Goodman Team.
Dime: Where did you learn to shoot? John Wall is always talking up your shot…
CA: I mean I couldn’t shoot in high school man. That’s what’s crazy. I was just a driver. I would just drive and I really couldn’t shoot. Then one summer, I just kept working on it and working on it. It came together my senior year of high school, and then just got better in college. We went up to Kentucky and played John Wall and them. Coach ran a lot of plays for me coming off screens, and just getting me open.
Dime: You set a record there?
CA: Yeah. The most threes made as a visiting player coming in. I made 11-16.
Dime: What’s that like having a relationship with someone like John?
CA: It’s great. That’s the type of guy that can get your foot in the door. He’s got that type of pull here in D.C. with the Wizards. He’s going to be here for a long time. He’s gonna be a great player. That’s a guy that I lean on, like saying to him “John, I’m a guy that’s working to get in and you know what I can do. You’ve seen what I can do.” With his credibility, he can just get me in the gym and I can take it from there.
Dime: Are you from D.C.?
CA: Yep. Born and raised right here.
Dime: What are your favorite spots to play at here?
CA: Favorite spots to play at would a little rec center called Marlow Heights. I go to Run N’ Shoot to play. I just bounce around. Anywhere that guys know the game of basketball… I know guys that are out there just to play. I’ve played against guys that are trying to go somewhere, either played overseas or played in the D-League or played somewhere, that’s going to make me better.
Dime: How do you think the talent in D.C. is compared to anywhere else?
CA: Oh, unbelievable. Unbelievable. There are a lot of guys out here that people don’t even get a shot at, or are in the streets. They get in the gym and it’s all lovely. They can do it all. We got a lot of them guys that can do it but can’t get out them streets.
Dime: Coming in to this, did they tell you everything that was going to happen?
CA: I didn’t know John was going to be here. That kind of surprised me. But now that I think about, this sponsored by Reebok, why wouldn’t he? He should be the face of Reebok so why wouldn’t he be here? I came in knowing that this can give me a look, somewhere, somehow if I keep moving into the top 35 and then the top eight, I’m already came here. This can make a career.
Dime: Did you finish up recently in college?
CA: Nah, I graduated in 2010. Then I played my first season in the D-League. Then went over in the summer and played my first season in China. I came back to the D-League this year, which was one of my best years. We probably had the best team on paper with the Mad Ants, but we didn’t come together right. When the lockout ended, we lost six of our guys, our starting guys. I was coming off the bench. That moved me into the starting position. I was a returner. I was a leader. Our first game, I went for 32. I tied the record for the Mag Ants with eight threes. It’s just all about opportunity. That’s basically what it comes down to, an opportunity. I’ve been in the D-League. I’ve played in Turkey. I hyper extended my elbow. That’s why I came back home.
Dime: Do you play the one or the two?
CA: I think that’s what the problem is. I think that’s the problem with my career. Everywhere I go, they put me at the two because I can shoot and can score. But at the next level, who am I gonna guard, Kobe? C’mon. Who am I gonna guard at the two? So I gotta be at the one. I’m trying. It’s a transition, but I will get. I’m gonna get my point guard stuff down. I watch Chris Paul and all the elite point guards, see what they do and put it into my game.
Dime: That’s what you’re working on right now?
CA: That’s what I’m working on now. It ain’t the handle. It’s decision-making. You gotta know everything that’s going on on the floor. That’s basically it. I know the game. It’s just little stuff that Chris Paul and John Wall and them guys got that I gotta get as far as court vision and all that stuff.
Dime: How would you grade yourself today? Did you play up to the way you wanted to?
CA: Yeah. I thought I played pretty well. I shot the ball pretty good. It’s just about playing your game at stuff like this. When you got guys out there trying to do things they normally don’t do, then that’s when they look bad. But if you’re out here and you know the game and just play your game, then you will stand out regardless.
RALPH HEGAMIN JR.
Dime: How did you hear about this? Did they contact you?
Ralph Hegamin Jr.: Coach Walt Webb for Atlantic Shores High School down there in Virginia Beach, he contacted me. He’s from Slam City. Really, he’s been around my life the past couple of years of my pro career. He’s always helping me out whenever there are opportunities like this which is a big opportunity coming out here for the Red Bull 5-on-5. He hit me up and let me know what was going on. I said “yeah, yeah. I’m ready to go.”
Dime: Where do you play right now?
RHJ: I played overseas in England and Portugal last year. This year, I switched agents, got new representation. He’s actually based here in the D.C.-area. I really had some opportunities to go overseas but they really weren’t the right ones so I turned them down. I’ve just been working out, working hard every day.
Dime: Where are you from?
RHJ: Virgina Beach. I’m 6-8.
Dime: What position do you play? Small forward?
RHJ: Yeah, small forward. I can probably play the two, the three or the four. Back in high school, I played center but I’ve been trying to move away from that because I’m not the tallest guy anymore. Yeah, so I’m like a small forward.
Dime: With someone like this, is the hardest thing playing with guys you’ve never played with before. You know nobody really wants to pass in something like this…
RHJ: Yeah. You know. When guys come out here in a setting like this and it’s based on individual performance, you know guys want to come out here and try to do everything themselves. But the guys I was playing with today, we actually all game up from Virginia Beach so I’ve been playing with them since middle school and high school. I’m used to playing with them, and we all share the ball and we all want to see each other succeed. I’ve known them for a while now, probably 10, 12 years. We used to all play together into the gym down there and play pickup during the summertime. The guys that came up here and sort of like a brotherhood from the area.
Dime: How would you describe your game? When I was watching you had a lot of nice passes…
RHJ: I like to be a versatile player. I liked to pass the ball and that in turn gets me open looks because guys can’t double-team me. But yeah, I consider myself an all-around player. I can shoot the three, can go off the dribble, jump, get some nice dunks but at the same time once I start creating for myself, it’s going to open up shots for others. Get good dishes, that’s how I like to play and try to be as versatile as possible.
Dime: I was with John Wall for a while, and I noticed he gave you a shoutout.
RHJ: Yeah, yeah he did. That was pretty nice man. He’s at the level that I would love to get to, so for him to do that, it was cool. That was a confidence booster. The dude is an All-Star so when he did that, that was nice. But at the same time, I want to get to where he’s at. Competition-type thing, “good look, yo.” But I’m trying to be there too. “Thanks for recognizing me, but I’m trying to be where you’re at.” That’s how I look at it. But it was cool, a nice compliment.
Dime: Speaking of the NBA, if someone were to say who do you play like, who would you say?
RHJ: I’d try to model my game like Carmelo Anthony. On the wing, 20 feet in, I can post up. Like I said, I had that background in high school. I had to post up. But then also face up, be able to do a whole lot of everything. I’m a similar height that he is â€“ 6-8. I weigh 230. Similar weight. I just like his ability to score, not just shooting the ball but being strong and attacking the basket, creating for others.
Dime: What did you think of the talent here?
RHJ: It was good. Some guys stood out more than others, like usual. It’s a tough game. Some guys are going to come out here and be successful. Others aren’t. All in all, I thought it was a good crowd. You had Baby Shaq out here. John Wall was out here. There were a lot of guys from my area. They can hoop, man. I had a lot of respect for the guys out here, which in turn made me play better because I wanted to turn my game up with the crowd that’s here.
Dime: Besides your five, did you know any of the other guys?
RHJ: I knew… there was our five, and then there was about eight other guys that all came up on the same bus and I knew them. So I was on the sideline rooting for them. Mike Anderson, who ran with us, he was the one-on-one champion from our area. Me and him go way back, so it was nice to play with him, being a fellow D-League guy. Guys go off. We had a couple of guys go overseas. I was here. Mike was in South Dakota. So when guys come back in the summer and there are opportunities like this. It’s nice to get away from all the distractions and just go hoop with your boys.
Dime: What did you think of the gear?
RHJ: Oh I’m happy with it. I couldn’t be happier. When we first walked up, I saw guys with the red Reeboks on. I said “Oh, I gotta get the red ones.” Luckily, I opened that box, and there they were. It’s cool, man. Now I can go back home and say I talked to Dime Magazine and John Wall shouted me out, I was hooping and got some gear on top of that. Nothing like free stuff, man (laughs).
Dime: How did they reach out to you?
Christian Jackson: This was an all right event. This was an all right event. You know what I’m saying? All of this gear, c’mon man!
Dime: What’s the hardest part about playing in an event like this? Is it playing with guys you don’t know?
CJ: Yeah, I just believe if you play your game then you will be noticeable. If you don’t try to take all the shots… a lot of times that makes you look bad. The thing to do is really be a team player and share the ball, and you will get your touches. Everybody is from different places, everybody is trying to shine but that makes the game kind of sloppy. The best thing to do is make the game come to you and settle down and you do get noticed. We lost the first game because guys were trying to take every shot and get themselves noticed. You don’t get yourself noticed like that. You get yourself noticed by playing hard and picking your shots.
Dime: You’re from D.C.?
CJ: Yeah, I’m from Carroll High School and went to Manhattan. I played for the Jaspers as a freshman in 2006. We won the conference that year, and it was a great experience. Bobby Gonzalez, he gave me a chance not only to play the game of basketball but to change my life and better my life. I appreciate him for that.
Dime: Are you playing anywhere right now?
CJ: Right now I’m just finishing school. I’m in my last semester of school and hopefully after this, I’ll try to go overseas and make some money. If not, then I’ll just use my degree. I work with kids and have my own camp. It’s Boo Jackson Skills Camp. That’s about it.
Dime: I saw that you were talking some smack out there…
CJ: (laughs) I’ve been playing with these guys since I was young. A lot of these guys are older than me but they gave me a chance at a young age. They never looked down on me or put me off the court. They allowed me to play with them, so by allowing me to play with them, you get that grit and you get that confidence and develop that confidence. Basketball is all about confidence, and just to have that confidence to go out there, have fun and play your game, you can’t beat it. Confidence is everything. That’s what I try to do. A lot of times I’m not the fastest or I’m not the most athletic. But when it comes to confidence, I know I’m probably one of the most confident people in the gym. That’s what carries over into my game.
Dime: How would you describe your game?
CJ: My game is just an old man’s game… just take what they give you. Don’t overuse your dribble. It’s sort of like a Paul Pierce game, just pick my spots when I’m comfortable, when I’m gonna make shots. That’s my game. I like to shoot the outside shot, get that going early and then after that you can drive to the basket and create a shot that way. If not, you can create shots for your team. I’m playing for a team now where my coach is always telling me I’ll be better when I start using my teammates and learning the pro game. I’m so used to playing on the college level where everything is me, me me, I, I, I. When you see the floor, and get guys shots especially when you drive to the basket and guys suck in, all of these good shooters like Corey Allmond, they knocking down shots and makes it easier for me. That’s just learning the pro game and what I’m doing right now. It’s fun and I enjoy it.
Dime: Was the talent level what you expected?
CJ: The talent level here was great today. Guys played hard. Everybody got along other than a little scuffle. You had a lot of D-1 guys, a lot of pro guys. It was great. It was great exposure. I appreciate Reebok and Red Bull for putting on this event.