If defense is what you need, then Chris Singleton is your guy. The 6-9 forward with a freakish 7-1 wingspan wowed NBA scouts during his time at Florida State with his ability to play lockdown perimeter defense. Considered the best overall stopper in the country, Singleton led the Seminoles in 2011 to an 8-3 start in ACC play, including a gutsy 66-61 win over then-No. 1 Duke. But in mid-February, Singleton fractured his right foot, which forced him to watch from the bench as FSU limped to a 3-3 finish heading into the NCAA tournament.
He returned in time for the Seminoles’ first-round matchup with Texas A&M, but was a shell of his old self throughout the tournament, averaging just 19 minutes per game during FSU’s run to the Sweet 16.
Since his season ended with a devastating one-point loss to Virginal Commonwealth, Singleton has been focused on getting back in shape and adding a new dimension to his game. In this exclusive Q&A, we caught up with Singleton as he preps for the June 23 NBA draft.
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Dime: A lot of young guys don’t really want to invest on the defensive end. When and why did you develop your identity as a lockdown defender?
Chris Singleton: I think I’ve always had the ability. I just never used it. I was always quick; I was always athletic. But, I mean, just going to Florida State, the principles, and the teachings that the coaches taught me really, really pushed me to go to another level. And then the things I learned from [former Florida State standout] Toney Douglas, I feel like that pushed me also to another level. [In high school], I always got the rebounds and the blocks…but I didn’t take it as personal as I did when I got to college.”
Dime: People have been saying that you have the ability to defend the one through four positions. Where do you feel most comfortable playing on the court?
CS: I do think I have the ability to play one through four. It’s all a mindset and just gotta stay in shape and keep working to get better. But it’s just whatever the coach wants me to play at, I’m going to play at to the best of my ability.
Dime: We’ve been hearing a lot of comparisons made between you and Ron Artest. Who would you compare yourself to?
CS: I really don’t compare myself to a lot of people, but when I do, I try to compare myself to some of the greats because at the end of the day, I want to be great. I compare myself to Scottie Pippen because I feel like, just like him, I feel like I can do it all. Just his passing, his defense. If he had to score, he scored. He did a lot of stuff.
Dime: People have been talking a lot about your ability on defense. Do you think that people are overlooking your offensive game?
CS: My defense definitely overshadowed my offensive game. I don’t think I was as aggressive as I should have been in college. I think I’m developing it. I’m trying to prove all the doubters wrong and try to show them I can play offense and just go from there.
Dime: How’s the foot doing?
CS: The foot’s 100 percent right now. I’ve had no setbacksâ€”just gonna keep chugging along.
Dime: What aspects of your game have you been working on since the college season ended?
CS: I’ve been working on my offense and just my quickness, just trying to get that back. I had a layoff for a long time, so I’m still trying to get back into shape from before I got hurt. My shooting consistencyâ€”I mean I think that was a big problem. People don’t think I shot as good enough as I should have. I’ve just been working on it. Just repetitions every day. More and more shots. I’ve been working on that, my pull-up jump shots, and my dribble. As long as I get better at those, I mean, I’ll be all right.
Dime: What’s your NBA workout schedule been like?
CS: I’ve had five or six workouts. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the court. Every time I get on there, I’ve got to show these people that I can play basketball.
Dime: What kind of feedback have you been getting from NBA coaches and assistants the last couple of weeks?
CS: I’ve been getting good feedback. A lot of people are interested just ’cause of my defensive abilities, but I’m just trying to show them that I can score too, and they’re surprised by how much I can do on the offensive end. I’m just going to keep just trying to push and try to get better each and every day.
Dime: Who have been some of your favorite guys to go up against in workouts?
CS: Marcus Morris, then I’ve been going against Jordan Hamilton. Everybody that I go up against, I just try to bring it to them every time.
Dime: I gotta ask, you went to high school in Georgia and college in Florida. Do you think you can handle the northeastern winter if you get picked by a team up here?
CS: I like the cold. I don’t think it’ll affect me that much. I’m just going to do whatever it takes to get better.
Dime: I know you don’t have much down time these days, but what do you like to do in your free time when you’re not working out?
CS: I like to just be activeâ€”get out, walk, and just see things. I like to travel. It’s something special every time. Not a lot of people get to see the things I see and do the things I do, so I just try to take advantage of it.
Dime: I saw one ranking that had FSU ranked as the 11th best party school in the country. Do you think it deserves that high a ranking?
CS: [Laughs] It’s definitely a party school when exams aren’t going on. There was a lot of partying going on.
How good of a defender can Singleton become?
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