While the action this weekend in Boston at the Red Bull King of the Rock tournament was fast and furious, I still found the time to sit down with some of the best players from the afternoon, guys like Daniel Munn, Marcus Barnett, Aljo Mrkulic, Sedale Threatt Jr. and Tony Lee.
All of them have interesting takes on their journeys, how they got here and what lies ahead in their basketball futures…
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Dime: What is your basketball background?
Daniel Munn: Well I grew up playing basketball. I’ve been playing since I was five years old. I played a lot of intramural basketball at [UC Davis]. I played with Brandan Striplin, who you guys did a feature on. He plays in the D-League now. I’ve been coaching sixth grade AAU basketball for the past two years. I tried out for the team at UC Davis but I didn’t make it. But that is one of the best intramural basketball systems in the nation right there. It is real competitive.
Dime: What makes it so competitive?
DM: All of the athletes play in it. Even the basketball players that redshirt play in it. We have football players, water polo players, good refs, everything.
Dime: What did you think of Brandan Striplin’s game?
DM: He was a hustler. He wasn’t the most fine-tuned player but this guy could hustle. He knew how to play defense. Whenever he showed up to play and there was someone tough to guard on the other team, he would guard him. I loved going head-to-head against him because it was always just a battle. You know when people are playing defense in pick-up games it is real basketball!
Dime: Why do you think he got cut?
DM: To be honest, I don’t know. He had the best tryout out of eight of us. I thought three of us had a good shot of making the team, but I don’t know. Apparently something just fell through with the coach. That coach is gone now. Brandan definitely deserved to be on the team, I mean he just got signed a contract in the D-League.
Dime: At 6-6, what position do you play?
DM: I’m a guard. I grew late in high school so I’ve always been playing guard.
Dime: How tall were you before?
DM: I was 5-10 my freshman year in high school.
Dime: Who do you compare your game to?
DM: That’s a tough question. I’m a tall shooter, so I’m a tough matchup for some people. My idol is Dirk Nowitzki. I’ve been following him since he was a skinny 19-year-old in the NBA. I don’t have his shot; I’m working on that. I definitely think I play a little harder on defense than Dirk. I’m a hustler so maybe I’d compare myself to a Kevin Love or Kris Humphries.
Dime: What do you plan on doing in the future? Staying around basketball?
DM: Yes, definitely staying around basketball. I want to continue my coaching career. It is a dream of mine to be a coach. I love giving back to the game. And I also think that because Brandan made it, I might as well give the D-League a shot and go out to the camp they have. I might just start training hard because he proved that people who don’t have any professional or collegiate experience can make it. There are a lot of guys in the NBA that aren’t the quickest, like Jason Kidd, but if you know that game, you can make it. I think I can do that.
Dime: How do you think you played today?
DM: I played hard out here today. The guy I lost to went 5-5 from outside. That’s tough to beat in a five-minute game. I played physical. He had a bloody lip, I got smacked in the head a few times. It was fun though.