The Madness Is Here


Y'all. Welcome to the party. Smith's America podcast is all you forty seven repre- you taking the time to hang out with us again this week last week, you guys really enjoyed my rambling dribble about everything that I had experienced over the past several weeks. And so we're going to continue that theme this week albeit with a couple of interviews this past weekend. I engaged in the second annual ESPN tournament challenge marathon during which I visited eight different schools. We were on a bus. I was on a bus with eight other news for almost fifty hours smelled like a barn by the time. We got done we went to Murray state, and then we went to Louisville, and then we went to Lexington in the university of Kentucky, and then we left there and went to Knoxville Tennessee to the university of Tennessee. And then we went over to Gardner Webb experiencing its first ever. NC double A tournament experience. Then we went to Wofford right before they left to head off to their turnament game. We interviewed one of their players and their coach at seven thirty in the morning, and they got on the bus at eight. So they waited for us to go. We appreciate that from Wofford we made our way to Chapel Hill and the university of North Carolina where I hung out with coach ROY Williams, Luke maye and Cam Johnson. And then we finish the tour in Durham at Duke University where I hung out with trae Jones and Javan delory. So it was quite a trip. We learned a lot we spent a lot of time with various members of these programs. I played knock out against the ladies at Louisville Asia Dir and Dana Evans, they're great players for a two-time ACC player of the year. And I got one shot up and the ladies not me out. Basically the same thing happened later that. Same day at Kentucky when Macy Morris and Taylor Murray. The great guards for the Wildcats knocked me out immediately. Travis I also tried to make they have this REU at Kentucky the ladies basketball team where you have to make twenty five three pointers in two minutes before you can leave the floor. I made sixteen cold not awful, not great not awful. And then I went down in Knoxville, and it again took one shot a hung out with l'amante Turner. And Jordan Bowden from the university of Tennessee who they are now on their way to the Sweet Sixteen and just a lot of fun man Gardner Webb was wild five o'clock in the morning. Four fifty in the morning. There are hundreds of students in the stands utterly coming on glued losing their mind that the mardi party was in town. I was gonna ask you about that you've gone a lot of places mardi party tracks. A lot of craziness where does that rank way up? And all of the context needs to be noted because I mean, again, it was four fifty in the morning, we leave Knoxville sometime around midnight. Maybe twelve fifteen I think after hanging out with tort Turner and Bowden in Thompson Boling arena. It was awesome to be in there getting shots up, by the way. I appreciate that. Because I mean, look man, they're they're college students. They're getting ready to head off the ANSI AA tournament. They got a lot going on a lot of stress involved in that. And they took the time at eleven o'clock at night to show up at the gym. And do an interview with us live on the tournament challenge show. So I'm so appreciative of those guys and everybody's university of Tennessee for taking the time to do that. So we leave there and head off to boiling springs, North Carolina. I passed out on the bus, and I wake up at the they wake me up Tommy Ingle and Patrick Abraham's my boys that kinda ran the the show. They're put together all the logistics. They shake me awake. They're like, dude. Where Gardner Webb get up your on TV? Eight minutes. So I'm like pound and a Cup of coffee. I walk into the gym. And it is Bo is bad lem in their kids were losing their minds have signs there. There's a guy dressed like some sort of the range Dale who was like a mini game. It was like game day game day, and they came the showed out. It was awesome. And we appreciate it so much. They gave me sandwiches. Apparently boiling springs is the liver mush capital of the world. So they on the way if I would've known that those sandwiches were there and to their credit, Tom and Patrick again. My producers they clued me in that the running BULLDOGS were going to give me a liver must sandwich. I was a half asleep and wasn't really thinking. And if I would have thought about it, I would've taken a hack out of that Livermore sandwich on TV. But alas I did not think about it and the coaching staff. Handed me this ten like this big ten full of the sandwiches to take on the bus with us. And I think they're still on the bus. I feel like that would have been a bad decision that might have toppled topped your philophical eating liver. Mush that doesn't sound real op still working on philophical. I think man, it's a good thing that had liver mush then. Anyway. So we leave the madness at Gardner Webb. And at this point it's five thirty or so in the morning, and we're once we're we're going to get our ETA at Wofford is like seven so going back to sleep. After pounded this Cup of coffee. We only have ninety minutes. It didn't make any sense. So we route our way over to Spartanburg to where Wofford colleges, and they are waiting on us, man. They were crazy too. There was like fifty dudes. Their main building is called old main on campus, and they have this tradition where when you enter the building at the top of these steps, very steep steps. There is this. There's like a a sign on the wall right in front of you. It's like a big plaque. And there's a misspelled word. But Nissen, I think the word is been beneficent or benefit one or one of the other. But either way. They're supposed to be an e and there's an I in the students take their thumb and rub that I for good luck before exams, and you can see where they do it every day. I mean, the the plaque is a bit soiled right because it's old. But man, the brass gold whatever that is is bright as day where those students participate in that tradition. So I show up at the old main. And I'm going to interview real plan put together to live live moment. I'm going to interview their senior center, Matthew Pegam, great kid. He could be my younger, brother. He had a great red beard. He looked like me twenty years ago and a foot taller and great great young, man. So he's going to explain to me that tradition. Quick comment about ball and going to AA tournament as a seven seat great year they had and then I was going to run down those stairs through a student tunnel to. Their head coach, Mike young who. Also, let me tell you about awesome, dude, man that guy he's from Niro GRA. He knows so many peop- starts on about. Steve Ragsdale, it's my legendary high school football coach jobs high school Virginia high school league legend. And like I was like man we're going to be we're going to be tight. I didn't realize that coach knew all these people. He the athlete director Radford university, my alma mater is Robert limber, and they're very close. And so it was just really cool to chat with coach young. What a great man and we discussed their run to the NCAA tournament. What expectations are how to define success. And then I turn out saw those crazy dudes up on top of the stairs losing their minds shirtless. I'm like what's wrong with him? He goes, I don't know, man. Maybe you take them with you. But awesome time at Wofford, and when I got to Carolina I was thinking as a team we were kind of going through, man. These guys have been asked every single thing you could possibly answer about basketball. So let's have fun. And let's go completely off the off the reservation, man. Let's go completely off script. And I'm gonna I'm gonna do rapid-fire with them pop cul. Rapid fire. And it was funny. Not even gonna talk who might go rapid fire. You ready for this? He would go favorite song favorite song. I'd have to go. Something drake. I don't have a favorite. She play unit movie should play me in a movie, I'm say, we'll Smith. Mom's best dish. Stuff, salmon, and collard greens and rice, favourite binge-watch favorite binge-watch friends. Oh, Fred friends. Thank you back. Favorite at Spotify favorite emoji sunglasses emoji greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan hands. I was gonna say greatest tar heel of all time we answer to then don't we text or FaceTime FaceTime last person. You texted last person? I'd text the probably my mom celebrity crush, Jen. Franson hope friends Aniston called him. Good. Looking young men. Last time. You cried, cried senior nights unite speech. Good job on this biscuits or corn bread biscuits. Best on the team Koby, not you know. That'd be worse on the worst hair on the team. Huff one word to describe coach Williams. Charismatic charismatic this rapid fire with Cam Johnson. Excellent fish, this is Luke maye. And it's time for rapid fire. You ready for this morning? Here. We go right off the top favorite song. Let's see pry, Honey. I'm good bye. I guess any grammar. Okay. Goodbye. Indie grammar, very good. I've not heard of that song probably should have who should play you in a movie. That'd be good lookin'. Right. Yeah. Gotta be good. Looking probably. Man's Tony stark. Tony stark. Moms bist dish. Spaghetti spaghetti favor. Binge-watch? Not a big TV show guy. Not a big binge watcher. But I've played say like I like transforming movies. Okay. Favored at favorite app. Spies degree killing killing grant favorite emoji emoji. Definitely the laughing emoji big laughing this basketball player of all time. Michael, jordan. Okay. So greatest tar heel of all time. Same answer FaceTime or text FaceTime last person you texted. Cam johnson. So liberty crush. Kate up Kate Upton. I look out for Lander looks for. That last time you cried. Senior speech saying thank AMC's gets cornbread your country. It's team biscuits based on their. The best team per se Koby, why everybody would say, yeah. On the team, Brandon Huffman. Okay. One word to sum up coach Williams winner winner. You love it, man. Thank you rapid fire. Rapid-fire Luke maye. So that was fun to hang out those guys a funny moment to Luke maye. He said Kate Upton was his celebrity crush, and I turn to the camera. I was like oh look out ver- Lander. And I wanted to make sure that you guys heard the way I started the tour and the way I started the tour in Murray Kentucky was with the tremendous young player for the Murray state racers job rant. If you guys haven't heard of this young man, you will he's going to be the second or third pick in the NBA draft. His athleticism is jaw-dropping his unselfishness as a player is tremendous and very rarely is he not the best player on every floor. He steps on. So how does it young man with that kind of ability and up in Murray Kentucky? So we went there and we took him to the park. This was selection Sunday. This was an hour before. Four Murray state learned it's NC double A tournament fate. And he was kind enough to give us a little bit of time at a nearby park. Right there off campus. And I wanted you guys. That's one reason we have the Marty Smith's America podcast is because when we go do these interviews and only the teeny little snippet make it to television. There's so much more interesting commentary there. So you're going to hear a lot of that in this podcast, not just Jaama rant. But also from John Calipari the head coach at the university of Kentucky, but we're gonna start with Joe I want you guys to hear his path and what he hopes to be his future. Does it guy of your talent end up in Murray Kentucky at Murray state university detail that path for me I start off with a lot of hard work coming up in high school. I was I fell under the radar home. I guess was a little overload Dan got invited to China Parsons camp. One of the coaches emerge aims came pizzas. Head in the bag job. I was planning on three. And he just started asking questions about me, and they stay I ended up playing one of my teammates Tevin Brown in a game. And that's what I got Murray. And they offered me a scholarship in the parking lot. So I I read where father I know he had a tremendous has had a tremendous impact on your life. I read where he told you once don't go where you think you should be go where they want you. Why was Murray right? Then they just laid out the red carpet as soon as I stepped foot in American Turkey on. Really just made me felt like this was home. I'm a big family person. And they just Romy and the treating me life family says they want and I felt like they just made it. They wanted me rather than where I wanted to go out to to pick the school. That wanted me what your personality describe your personality for me? I really I say laid back type guy, I can tell. I don't do too much really just standard. Joe? So other than that really case, they when you're growing up in South Carolina, and you're putting in work in the backyard by yourself in the dark where nobody else is watching what are the dreams. What are you? Dreaming about in that backyard really to just get to the biggest level. But I can obviously started here. Finally, got basketball dream, come true. And now chasing today. NBA? You're definitely chasing to the NBA. What's this year? Been like, how do you describe because I'm gonna be honest with you man, straight up on a six months ago. Never heard you name. It didn't take long for me to hear your name. What's this been like how has your life progressed in transition any volved over the season? Oh. Where from? Like, you said nobody knowing me to now one of the biggest players in college basketball. So really? I really can't do too much now. What's it like to go out and public shots? Man. You get. People come in for autographs, so pitches. So it really just a lot of people knowing me. So I'm still a big family person. So I love doing it. I don't mind at all. How do you describe your dad's influence on the player? You are. I said he really made me who I he taught me everything I really needed to know. Most people think is you gotta do the fancy things, but really all since says they want he just taught me the fundamentals about some ball. Using my left right hand stuff like that. What about mental toughness? What what about being adult? How did he grow you into being the guy? That's flushing it on everybody and finding your teammates the way you do. I'll probably say it was one of my hate us before I had really he'd never compliment me on anything. Good. You always told me too bad about what I do. And so now when I hear fans called me overrated anything really doesn't bother me because he would call me overrated before they could. Yeah, you're like I don't care what man's been saying what are you talking about? And he really just taught me how to just keep my composure just stay ready just half fun with everyday what we through some of those drills that you did in the backyard. I've read about tractor tires. I've read about chairs I've read about inanimate objects that you're working around. How did you come to to to use that philosophy say the tiles my favorite, although I hate it? Don't coming up. Math. Every drew will have the jump on track to tie it twenty times. And has it got easier? He put a little padded under it to make you hire for me. So I say that's potty my favorite to do. But other than that really just read defended he'd made this cone on wheels. And I come and make a move here. Push the coin I mean, I just have to read make move off of it. So it really just helped me like in a game. If definitive try to jump still the ball, and I can change direction became muscle memory for you that way. What was the moment when you knew your life was starting to change in terms of the public awareness of your town. I probably say out that Alabama. Look at the smile. I like it take me the Alabama done. It was late in the game was on trying to fight back to come out with a win. And I came down on a full court play got ahead of one of my defenders and just seeing. Open and just took it and when finished a play, and after that, dunk, my social media just started blowing up. Who's reached out to you? Or you learned that they know who you are. That was the most surprising who are some of the guys that have become fans of yours that you've noticed. I think my biggest is probably I. What do you say he told me that also I was tough and just keep going and also Kevin Durant? I think I was really surprised him on the podcast. I heard he said how's his favorite player to watch? And then recently, he did me and said just keep pushing so. Haney slides into the Deums. To get that. I was surprised I really couldn't even say how felt about all I could do. Well, I. John. Let's Kevin Durant. Okay. That that's the either the best player in the world or the second best player in the world telling you that you're his guy tell you about your game. Guess. I'm a good player on this coming from hill. Thank you said being the best player possibly top three in the league right now. One of the hardest things to do for us as human beings talk about ourselves. I'm asking you all of these questions trying to get you to discuss yourself magin, you've evolved quite a bit from that capacity. What's it been like? That what's that part of your life been like, how do you? Why do you who are you every single day the way you've had to do this year a mile saying it was tough? Yeah. Imagine I'm a very humble person. I really don't like speaking too much myself. So. Best to haw par really talking about myself after obviously I blew up. So I want to see and hear the story behind the tattoo. No one tattoo. Well, come in. I was a you high school, I'll very overlooked. So it was times that I questioned myself. What was I good enough to be able to play at the next level? And I give credit and my parents. My dad always told me that I'm trying to go basically like how built for it. And my mom always told me beneath no one to keep pushing. So I say. Both of those just kept me going and obviously pay it off. What were the down times? Like, what was it? Like when you feel like why is nobody checked? Why is nobody coming here to see me? What kind of chip is that you still have that chip say I still play with that chip on my shoulder. That's just a passing and emotion. I play with today. Just play with a chip on my show. What has to happen to lose? It. Oh, thank. So you come here to Murray state. How does Murray Kentucky compliment your personality? Is really almost seminal to solve wack home from where I live. It's very small town. But you can go anywhere. Somebody knows u somebody's very small. And then everybody say everybody is almost together as one really on the same mission. And I'm a big family person. I grew up and like I said, I'm not sure marry Mary as to me now is family, and they brought me as they want. You said you can go anywhere. And people know, you imagine at this point, you go everywhere people. One last thing. How do the dreams in the backyard compared to what you're current reality is is just so my dream for? House working forward. And I said now that my hall work is finally paying off if feels good, but I see a lot more work to do. We'll tell you what really stood out to me in. That interview. Travis was the fact that he said his dad was here's his hair. I hater his hater before he even had haters, and I said to him on the car ride back to the arena that many of us, and I have a lot of friends who are high achievers who spent so much of their life doing their very best to earn their father's favor to make daddy proud. And I can guarantee you that jaaz parents are bursting with pride, and I'm so impressed with him. I'm impressed with forget the basketball ability, which we know is world class. He has a grace about him and an understanding of the moment and being where his feet are. It's so hard to do in this life to be present. And be where. You are. And he consciously. Takes that approach to everything. Lows is brothers loves his coaching staff at Murray state, and now he'll start the process of what's next. And of course, everybody expects that to be the NBA. He's a top. He's a lottery pick and probably going to be second or third in the draft. Tremendous young man, Travis you're leaving one thing out of this Murray state stopped the mardi was a FaceTime. That's you call it somebody in front of the team to surprise them. And it wasn't just like, oh, hey, I've got a friend here. That's like a buddy of mine. That's it was kind of a big name. It was a spur of the moment thing. So I get to Murray state and really like Matt McMahon the head coach there. He's a vibrant guy young guy. Great coach. And I noticed that several players had championship belts on like wrestling championship belts. And they were elaborate. And when he takes me into coach McMahon took me on a tour and walking around looking at the facilities. Their locker room is tremendous their practice. Gym is brand new and amazing. And he's explaining to me that they've sent all these point guards to the NBA over the past several years, and so we're just discussing this. And then he's like let me show you our player like our film area. And he takes me in. And it's these twelve or fifteen leather chairs, it's like theater seating huge screen up there. Whiteboard behind it where he can draw motivational stuff or plays or team motto or whatnot. And on the little shelf that holds the drought race markers. There is a championship belt. That has Rick flair. It says flair on it. And it's gold and encrusted and gorgeous. It's awesome. So I'm like you'll flair and he's like, oh, dude. You don't even know. So without him, even knowing it. I'm like FaceTime. So FaceTime player and h answers the phone. He's like. And so make man's losing his mind. He can't believe this. So I turn I basically hand the phone to coach McMahon and let him talk to flare, and I was blown away. We both were by how much the nature boy knew about Murray state basketball. He went on and on about John. What a great player he is. Now. Funny used to watch. And it was just a really awesome moment to see that. And I know how much flair enjoys that stuff. He was hanging out at home answers, the FaceTime and coach McMahon loved every second of it. And that was just neat to do. And then I saw later on Twitter right before the first round that Nate shouted out Murray. State coach McMahon joh- all those guys and wished him good luck in the tournament. So that's just cool because they love their two claps in Rick flair. That's what they do. So it was fun to be able to do that for him. And and I appreciate appreciate nature for answered the phone. He could have he could have just Heisman me. And he didn't speaking of the opportunity to get the Heisman and being shown grace. Instead that happened a lot on this trip. We took a lot of chances and one of the biggest chances that we took was interrupting John Calipari is weekly radio show at Malone's prime events this reception hall in Lexington Kentucky on the UK sports network. He does it every week. And we worked it out with the sports information staff and with the radio staff and with Malone's prime staff that we were going to roll up in their live on sportscenter. The only person who didn't knows coach Cal. So we weren't rude. Don't worry. We everybody was in on the joke except for him. And we roll straight in there man, L Dunkin throws out to me from sports center. And I roll right up in that thing holler. And the I ha- I'll be honest with you had a little bit of concern a little bit of concern at first because when I went rolling up in their the look on coach cows face was not. It was I don't know whether it was shocked discussed annoyance, I didn't know what that look was. But once we got in there, I got down on an e beside him, and we had a whole lot of fun. And I then tried to make the transition into starting to ask my questions because we only have three minutes. And so I went in. And I my initial thought was I'm gonna I'm gonna I want to know how you continually retooling team when everybody that you recruit and everybody on your team's going to the NBA every year and Calipari is brilliant at that. He's just brilliant. And so I start my thought process by saying coach, you are so good. And he goes up say it again, I said you are so good. He said one more time. I said you're so damn good. And he's like man, I'm might like this interview. So we discuss all of those things I tell us back to the studio. And at that time, he went ahead and finished his Radi. Oh show. There was about. I don't know twenty minutes left in the show at that point. So we just hung out. And waited afterwards. He walked over and said that he really enjoyed that. And thought it was funny. And I was like, hey, you think we could get a couple more questions in on the bus. We'd like to bring you down to the to the game day bus and hang out in the back, and and really expound upon what you're doing it Kentucky, how you've evolved as a coach, etc. And he said, yes, and this is what is it? Travis. Six minutes. Five minutes, six minutes. Okay. What this man says in this six minutes, I found to be profound. And I felt like this was the perfect platform for you guys to hear it. So here's my my chat with John Calipari during the ESPN tournament challenge marathon in a game day bus about legacy, which is hard to discuss. While you're still living. It fascinating person. Coach. How would you read the SEC in two thousand nineteen compared to a typical year? Well, there was some lean years where we were getting two and three teams in and the last two years, not only well the one year, we only got three teams in Florida and us went to the final four which tells you they should've put more teams. But you know, now, you're getting seven and eight and those teams are advancing. It's really good. And we're preparing each other for success guys. Played different some are playing zone. Some are pressing summer playing a little bit slower some are trapping. You know, some teams are playing a little slower to to for Pacers game. We're all I think everybody we've all prepared each other for these weekends in what ways specifically how does that rigorous schedule in your lead prepare you for March. Well, you're going to be in a lot of close games. They learn about themselves coaches learn about their teams, what does it work? What like I'll remember like I'm not doing that. Again, if I'm ever in that situation and a lot of times, it's like, wow. That really is a good way for us to finish a game. So you're just learning. I mean, I like to say we're winning or learning throughout the year because everything for me is always been care about conference tournament. Really don't care about conference championship stuff. It's all is it preparing us to get the best seed, we can get because that's important and advance in this term at what point do you? Stop caring about those things. Start caring about the long view because. Awards matter when you're young, but as you move along in age in your career, those things tend to take less of an importance, you know, Marty it's when you're when you make your life about other people it becomes easier. Everything when you're trying to just gather, you're very lonely person. And and you do take things personal. You know, we've I've been so blessed. I mean, there's no way I should be in the seat. I'm in. I wasn't you know, as a player I was small, but I was slow. I mean, I didn't play for these guys. I mean that wasn't that guy. I didn't play for him which helped me get this. And I'm in Kentucky. And and now all of a sudden we've gotten forty guys to the NBA we've had number one picks lottery picks. I mean twenty five lottery pig terminable. It's it's almost two billion in contracts. And you sit there and say most of those families. It's the first time they breathe they get a breast like we've gone hand to mouth our whole lives our whole family for generations. And now, we get the brief, and we get to be a part of the American dream and to be that guy. That's kind of the Khanda with to help. It's it's it's heady stuff. I don't take it lightly because I know what's at stake for the families. But it's a ball when I'm in that. Why would you go to the green? I'm having its graduation. I'm having a ball hugging kissing. This was what it was about. Well, you know like you don't care about winning. We've one more than more viable more league championships tournament gypsy. So don't say I don't care about winning. But not at the expense of the kids. It's a no it's hard to toke legacy. You led me into this just for the record? I know it's hard while you're still doing it. Right. But it sounds to me like you have a pretty solid idea. What you're trying to leave here. What is that you trying to leave with the idea that how many people that I help along the way how many staff members have opportunities. I mean, and let me say this. I have been treated and paid more than I deserve. I want more. No. More than I deserve because of the success of these players, which in turn makes me feel obligated. How do I help? How do I? Really counsel the right way, some kids need to stay a little longer some kids need to go. Now. How do I do this without being selfish? We had five guys drafted in one draft. We had six guys drafted into different drafts. Which means you lose your whole team. Why wouldn't you try to keep to three of those guys? Why didn't you venture guy? So he had to come back because it's not about me. It's about those families. Now, the kids don't always like me because I'm going to tell you. It's stuff's on steroids. We're that. I don't have time for BS no time for BS. We're gonna keep it real. Sometimes I get aggressive. But you're gonna know I love you. So I can be aggressive because you know, at the end of the day, I'm making this about you not me, I want it to be about me. I don't wanna come out with you know, coloring my hair and going crazy and doing backflips I do enough of that during the game last thing. I know you gotta run what you're mrS to your young men before you guys had the Jackson. Play to your training play to your training. If you play to the tournament, you can do that for about fifteen minutes if you play to the opponent, you could do that for about fifteen minutes if you play to the training, and you fall back on that training do that for forty minutes. And if you play the way, we're capable of for forty minutes, and you lose you can walk away and say what we lost Tennessee in in the semi-finals of our tournament. And when I looked at the stats, I'm like. These are winning numbers, which means at the end couple plays a couple of calls that and you lose the game. And I walked away saying guys weren't good shape. Tennessee's funnel fourteen. You had them beat in a neutral court. What a we let let's go play to the training. Don't worry about the opponent. You know, how we're trying to get you to play and putting guys in the position that they're comfortable. But it's all real simple to me that way, absolutely brilliant, though. Thank you for your always, learn appreciate it so much. There's no other way that I can begin the sum up his approach. He is so direct and vulnerable and honest in the way that he approaches this, and he is changing people's lives. That's something that I had not considered before. He just said that a lot of these young men that are coming to the university of Kentucky. He is saying, hey, come here. We will nurture you for one year, we will prepare you as best we can for the next level how to handle fame because you go to university of Kentucky and your star, you're famous there's nobody more famous in the state, then you then we will prepare you for how to handle all that's coming at you money fame. People hangers on all those things we will prepare you for that. And we are going to completely. Rewrite your family's future. A lot of these people are struggling now when they leave the university of Kentucky and they go third four v six tenth in the draft. And all the sudden there were twenty five million dollars and to hear the way that he approaches that filled up my tank, I don't care what your opinion is of that philosophy. That's the that is the current parameters that are set in college basketball that is the landscape by which these coaches in these administrations must play adapt or don't and he's even admitted that he doesn't like this format. It's just he has to do what you said what's best for him in the program, and he's going to run with it. And he's going to be better than you add it, but he doesn't like this. No if he has embraced. He was the he was the guy he changed college basketball. He was the guy that said come here, we will embrace that. You're. Going to be here for one year. We will not we we are all in on having you for this one season. And guess what happened? The number one example of his influence on college basketball is my shifty because Duke University went from the four year university where players came and they learned the system, and they grew in the system for three and four years. And all of a sudden, look what's happened. This worked out tremendously he has embraced that. And it really kind of started with kyri. And now it's a whole other phenomenon with Zaylon or j Barrett trae Jones all these folks Cam reddish Cam or J and Zaylon are predicted to be top five top six picks in this draft all on the same roster all nineteen years older, whatever eighteen nineteen years old. So that to me is a real example of okay, if we want. Contend for national championships. And we want to get the best players that come to Durham we have to look over at Lexington and see how they're doing. So that tour was very fulfilling for me on a lot of levels. I really enjoy the camaraderie with the guy's really enjoy spending time with those that we cover and learning from them and feeling the way that they feel as they prepare to go into this amazing moment that is the NC double A tournament that all of them have dreamed about their entire lives. And that includes the coaches, I mean, you look at a gardener with for example, Gardner Webb had never been to the incident tournament before they beat my highlanders and to walk into the gym and to see that reaction and to see the look on coach crafts face. Tim craft is a head coach Gardner Webb. Great gaffe to see the look on his face at what they had accomplished. And what that means to Gardner Webb, man. What that me they they had the opportunity to go to the dance and to be on the national stage. And oh, by the way, lead UVA at half time. They were the story of college basketball for a half. And that is so fun. It's the beauty of March. All we want in this life is a sense of belonging a little bit of appreciation and feeling like we're part of something. And that's the way I felt on this trip. And as I said our last stop on the tour was with Duke, and I'm so pretty she two of Mike degeorge and the communication staff for getting me a couple players. They have been worn out this season warned slap out with all of the attention. That comes with a phenomenon exile Williamson and after practice we showed up at Cameron indoor stadium we walked in there. And. Mike brought me trae Jones the great point guard, wonderful young man and Javan delory. A and we sat there in the stands at Cameron indoor. And I asked them look I've apologized to these guys I've probably covered the last eight or ten of their games or whatever before the incidentally tournament. Here. I didn't cover the tournament last weekend. But leading up to the tournament several of their games Zeile missed with injury. And then the entire ACC tournament. I covered all those games. And after every one of those games, what was my job Zeile Williamson. And it's a joke now between try Jones in me. I tell him. Hey man's I on time, and we just share laugh, but I wanted to learn about this team. And what it's been like this year what their goals are. And this is just a great interview with two great young men. Appreciate their time. Here is my conversation and Cameron or stadium before they went to the first round of the tournament with trae Jones in Javan delory. We got Javan to Loria and trae Jones from Duke here, I wanna start with how different this season has been when you look back on this season many years from now what will stand out. Probably all the height has been coming with it. I mean, there's how we opened up the season. And while the height they came along with it. I might away obviously got so some big time athletes here. I ready was I j rain a lot of hype. But then I mean, just long the way everything that's happened with celebrities coming into games. Broth obama. Jay z and the different people. So that's definitely gonna stick out to me. So what point did you realize this season's going to be a little bit different season? Then those to which we're accustomed. I was the first game. We came out. We'd be Kentucky kind of changed the way. People talk to got us the way, we're covered by the media and stuff like that. Even though I've been here for three years, and, you know, people talk about there's something completely different choice. You know, we had Barack Obama come together in indoor. So it out of people are gonna come foods to watch our games. It's been pretty crazy patting you guys react when you're in layup line, and you look over and you see the forty fourth prison the United States sitting there. What we've ever you got saying each other is is is this a real moment. Fisher his doesn't even seem real. But I mean once once you get in the game in game sites going back and forth. Really forget about who's they're playing basketball again noted having been here before these guys ever got an established leader of this program. What's it like to have that type of position? And then all of a sudden this phenomenal class comes in that he is so different. To be honest. It's been really easy. Just because these guys have been great from day one. You know, they came in and they would just mature group really just want to get better. And they wanna win. So when you have guys like that who come in, and obviously super talented. They just makes everything flowing really will. We'll does Mike Chiesi demand of his captain's really just frost giant set the tone for group and make sure everything run smoothly. We like to try handle things ourselves before, you know, the coaches interfere. Just that's goes how how basketball operates a lot better. If we, you know handle issues internally we have to practice, and no coaches yelling at everyone. So it's better for. Nip it in the but all these guys come in here. And I wanna know what you thought the first time you saw this guy. I I really saw them play. Because when he got here he was hurt. But I remember the first time we played with pick on pick up. And I was like, wow. You know, he never makes it wrong play. I was shocked. I'd never really seen him play high school, but just court vision. And how funny was the with. Was amazing. I was like we we have a chance to be really good. You guys go out in public. I wanna know what it's like to be out. How do people react and respond to see? And you guys you can't take Zion anywhere. That's. But it's which is again something that, you know, you get used to have been here. You know, pretty big name guys J Tatum, Grayson Allen and going on public. Obviously, we're, you know, pretty knows what we don't really blend into crowds. Well, but might try just the height this come with this year has made it a little bit different. Just in terms of the amount of attention has grown on high. Last thing the standard around here are those banners in that Rafter. You guys are in the number one overall seed in the tournament. How do you define success in this tournament? Like, you said, I mean, all of us came here. For one reason I was to win. So I mean with s ACC tournament we hung one banner. But I mean, I mean goes to win when national championship in. You wanna hang up more banner this year Jetta? Thank you for hanging out this week. We appreciate your investment in the Marty. Smith's America podcast, so much traffic preciado it without you guys? Listen to it, there'd be no reason for us to do it. I want to reiterate something very important on April. First we join the Libertad and friends network. We announced that during the tournament marathon Dan announced a while. I was on the lebatardshow with with him. Stugatz guts that starting April. First the Marty Smith's, America podcast will become part of the merry band of idiots that is the lebatardshow and friends network. That is such an honor for me, I'm thrilled. And you talk about being appreciative those guys investment in us is so humbling. It's awesome. So our first guest is going to be Rick flair. I am working to get the nature boy on the microphone. He has told me he is very interested in doing this interview. So that will hit on April first so be on the lookout for that. Thank you so much to our men and women in uniform all over this world, defending our freedom. We are free, and we need to appreciate the fact that we are free, man. So thank you so much to our military for your sacrifice every single day for keeping us free. That's marty. Smith's America podcast volume? Forty seven thank y'all for hanging out with see you next time around.

Coming up next