J.L. Weill's On the Record: Ike Diogu

J.L. Weill's On the Record: Ike Diogu
Jun 03, 2005, 12:26 pm
DraftExpress's J.L. Weill recently got the chance to sit and chat with one of the most underrated big men vying for a spot in this year's NBA draft, Arizona State standout Ike Diogu. Here's what Diogu had to say:

J.L. Weill: I'd like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Ike. I know you're busy, so I'll get right to it. Some people called you the best player in college basketball last season, what was it like to get such accolades?

Ike Diogu: The best player in college basketball? Oh, it was definitely an honor to have some people calling you one of the best in college. There were so many great players. ... I guess the hard work's finally paying off.

JW: It's true. Not a lot of people really expected that from you when you were first coming up, did they?

ID: Nah, I don't think anybody really did, except for my family, you know, and my coaching staff. They worked really hard with me and my teammates. I'm just happy to have the opportunity to be here.

JW: Do you think that you picked the right school coming out of high school to maximize your talents?

ID: Definitely. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I'd choose ASU all over again. The coaching staff was great, and I've met a lot of nice people there, and my teammates. They're all just one in a million.

JW: I know you have a close relationship with Coach Evans, I was wondering if you could tell me a little about how he's helping you through this process of examining your place in the draft.

ID: He's just gathering all the information he can from GMs, from other player personnel, just getting all that information for me. He's been just really supportive during the whole process.

JW: So do you have any idea yet as far as your future in the draft is concerned, or are you still only looking into it?

ID: Ah, I don't know yet. I'm just going through these workouts and going by what they say. That'll determine ultimately what I'll do.


JW: Speaking of workouts, we're hearing word that you had a particularly strong workout in Golden State recently. It was said you measured with a 7'4" wingspan. That's pretty long.

ID: Yeah, I just went out to Golden State and was basically just playing as hard as I could. That's all I can do in these workouts, just give 110% and see what happens.

JW: A lot of our readers probably aren't privy to the inside of an NBA workout, can you tell us a little about what sort of things they entail?

ID: A lot of shooting. They want to see if you can shoot. There you do a lot of 2-on-2 stuff. Pick and roll. They want to see if you can defend. They want to see if you can rebound. They just want to see if you can fight through some things, cause you can do a lot of things when you're tired and they want to see who can push through or not, who can get a bucket.

JW: Care to tell us who you were matched up 2-on-2 with at all? Not trying to put you on the spot here.

ID: I was up against Wayne Simien, David Lee, Ronny Turiaf and Dwayne Jones.

JW: Some pretty big names. How'd you do?

ID: You know, I thought I did alright. Those guys are pretty good, so it was definitely a challenge.

JW: A pretty accomplished group of big men, huh?

ID: Oh, definitely. (laughs)

JW: So I'm curious, all those names are guys who spent at least three of four years in college like yourself and were dotted throughout the All-American lists. You all seem to be fighting for the same draft spots. How does it make you feel to be such a prolific college player and still feel like you maybe have to prove yourself a little bit?

ID: Well, that's just how it is, you know. I guess the game is changing and they want to go for the players that are taller and stuff like that. So, just like I had to prove myself in high school and college, I'll just have to do that again.

JW: A lot of people are saying with your long reach and shot blocking ability that you might be an Elton Brand-type player. What do you think about that comparison?

ID: Well, it's definitely an honor. Elton Brand is a good player and he's a guy who can go out and get you 20 and 10 every night. He's one of those guys who can be labelled as an undersized post player, but he is still very effective against taller players, so that's just a huge compliment.


JW: You know, I have to ask you about this. We're hearing a rumor that you went head to head with Chris Taft at one of your workouts and, let's just say that word is you took him to school. Do you have any comment on that?

ID: (laughs) Wow. (laughs) You know, I don't really have any comment on that.

JW: Alright, fair enough. Who was the toughest player that you faced head to head in college.

ID: It was probably the center from BYU who's with the Toronto Raptors now.

JW: Araujo?

ID: Yeah, it was my freshman year. That guy is pretty skilled, you know. He was really strong, and I ended up still playing pretty well against him, but it was definitely tough.

JW: Following on that question, some people have given him a hard time, saying it has taken him a while to adapt to the pro game. How do you think you'll make that transition?

ID: You know, it's going to be tough for anybody coming from college. But one thing I'll do is I'm always going to continue to play hard. So once I start playing against pro players on a consistent basis, I don't think the transition -- it'll definitely be big -- but I don't think it'll take that long.

JW: You measured out around 6'8", am I correct?

ID: Uh-huh.

JW: Sticking with the Elton Brand comparison, what position do you think you project at at the pro level.

ID: I'd say the four.

JW: Because of your shooting ability?

ID: Yeah.

JW: Do you think your height is going to affect your draft position at all?

ID: It probably will. I mean, there's guys I'm not as tall as. But if I was, with the skills I have, if I was 6'11" or seven foot, i'd definitely feel that I'd probably be a top 5 pick. But, unfortunately, I'm 6'8", so all I can do is work with what I have. YOu can't really say how tall you want to be, it just happens. I'm happy with the height that I am, and I'm just going to work with that.

JW: Seems like you've done a pretty good job so far, right?

ID: (laughs) Definitely.

JW: So if you had to pick some of your strengths as a player, what do you think they are? If I were a GM, I'm sure you've had a few interviews, what would you project as your strengths?

ID: I would say, just, toughness, rebounding, shooting, shot blocking, and overall hustle and desire.

JW: I noticed you averaged over 2 blocks a game last year, that your blocks increased each year at ASU. Did you do anything in particular to increase your defensive intensity?

ID: It was just a matter of being more aggressive, really. I blocked a lot of shots in high school and I always knew I was capable of being a pretty good shot blocker in college, and once I just became more aggressive, I just started blocking a lot more shots.


JW: I also have to ask you this question, if you had to pick any weaknesses, things you might improve on, no matter where you get drafted, can you pick anything you might need to improve on?

ID: I mean, I think improvement on my overall game. The inside-outside, on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. I just want to continue to become a better all-around player.

JW: Are you getting, Ike, any indication, if not guarantees, some idea of where you might be picked?

ID: Yeah, a lot of things. Probably somewhere in the mid- to late-first round area. But I'm just, you know, putting my work in at these workouts and going from there, basically.

JW: Is mid- to late- first round going to be good enough to keep you in the draft?

ID: (pauses) You know, I don't know. It just depends. If it's the right situation and I feel comfortable, then definitely.

JW: Do you think that Arizona State's status, with you or without you, what they have coming back, is that going to play into your decision at all?

ID: I don't think so. No, I don't think so at all.

JW: OK. I Do you have some more workouts this weekend?

ID: Yeah.

JW: Where are you headed?

ID: Well, I'll be in Seattle tomorrow, then I have Houston on Thursday.

JW: And where have you been so far?

ID: Golden State and Denver.

JW: And who did you work out with in Denver?

ID: That's when I worked out with Wayne Simien and David Lee.

JW: Oh, ok. Some of our readers have been wondering what your vertical leap is, have you gotten a reading on it yet?

ID: I'd say the vertical is probably about 32.

JW: Did you outjump Chris Taft?

ID: Oh, we didn't do a vertical test.

JW: I'm just playing with you. There were some reports coming out last week from some websites that said you were pulling out of the draft. Is there any truth to that?

ID: Nah, I haven't pulled out of the draft. I'm still in and I'm still doing my workouts.

JW: And do you think you'll make a decision at the last minute?

ID: Hmm, I don't know when I'll make a decision.

JW: Have you been thinking about hiring an agent at all, is that on your radar?

ID: Nah, I've just been really focused on these workouts.

JW: Another question about your game. Is there anything in your workouts that you've been trying to show these NBA teams that maybe you didn't have to utilize as much in college. I know in the pros the game is a little different, you probably played more zone at Arizona State than you might in the pros. Anything you're doing differently?

ID: Just shooting. I don't think a lot of people think that I can shoot the ball, but I feel I'm a pretty good shooter. I'm just trying to get that out there.

JW: What kind of range have you been showing off?

ID: They had me shooting from everywhere, they had me shooting from the NBA three-point line.

JW: How'd you do?

ID: I've been doing a pretty decent job.

JW: You hit some NBA threes?

ID: Yeah, I hit a few. (laughs)

JW: Like Rasheed out there launching those threes, I guess.

ID: (laughs)

JW: Did you get to watch the Pheonix-San Antonio game today?

ID: Yeah, I saw it.

JW: Do you ever get to see Amare play, being out in Arizona?

ID: I've only been to two or three games.

JW: No pickups games, huh?

ID: Nah. (laughs)

JW: Any advice for young guys, you know there's a lot of young guys, high schoolers and freshman, who are declaring. Any advice for these guys, whether they should stick it out? Whether they're making the right move?

ID: Um. You know, it's definitely not my place to tell anyone they're making the right move or the wrong move. Just, whatever you're doing, work hard and be a winner wherever you are and finish what you start.

JW: Any goals for your rookie year in the NBA? Are you going to be Rookie of the Year next year?

ID: Well, I definitely won't be making any statements like that. I just want to come into the league and be the best player I possibly can.

JW: Well, you're a pretty humble guy, and I really appreciate you taking the time, Ike.

ID: That's no problem, thank you.

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