Ivan Chiriaev: "I can be better than Nowitzki"
Ivan Chiriaev: I came here to live with my uncle. I just wanted to change my life, because life was really bad for me in Russia.
Was it really that tough for you back there?
IC: Yeah, it was pretty bad. My family is a pretty poor family. And in Canada, I can make a better use of my skills. In Canada, if you work hard, you can get something. In Russia, it doesn't matter if you work hard or not, you get nothing.
Anything you miss from Russia?
IC: My family. I have my family there.
Where are the biggest differences between your life in Russia and Canada?
IC: I have a much bigger opportunity here. I can get better basketball-wise. And next year, I will probably enter the NBA Draft.
Some players your age sign professional contracts and start making money at an early age in Europe. Why didn't you do that?
IC: I had the opportunity to come here and I came here. I wanted to continue my basketball career here because I thought I would have a better future -- whether it is in college or in the NBA. In Russia, I felt there was no future for me.
How do you cope with all the media attention you are starting to get? Do you enjoy it?
IC: I have a pretty good time with it. I'm pretty busy with all this media stuff, but I'm enjoying it.
Some NBA scouts have already been watching you in practice or games. Do you like that or is it harder for you to play in front of those guys?
IC: I really like that. The NBA scouts, they can see your talents and then they tell what you have to work on.
What do they tell you?
IC: When they come to talk with me after practice, NBA agents or scouts tell me I'm a special player. You know, I'm 7-foot-1 and I can play the point. I'm working very hard on my guard skills now.
When do you plan to make a decision about the NBA Draft?
IC: I'm going to make that decision probably in January.
Your first option is the NBA, right?
IC: Yes. But if I'm not in the Top 3, I'm going to college.
Even if you are guaranteed to be a lottery pick but it's not Top 3, you are not going to enter the draft?
IC: No. Not if I'm not a Top 3 pick. If I'm not in the Top 3, I'm going to college.
Do you like any college in special if you don't go pro next year?
IC: No, no one in special. I haven't thought about that.
OK. Is there any NBA player you like in particular?
IC: Yeah. I think that because I can play all five positions.
Is there any position on the floor in which you feel specially comfortable?
IC: Point guard. Definitely point guard.
In your opinion, what part of your game do you have to work on the most?
IC: I'm already working on my ballhandling skills. I work on my jump shot a lot and I spend time in the weight room. I'm working really hard in the weight room so that I can add some more pounds and be stronger.
One last question... Just out of curiosity, is there anyone in your family nearly as tall as you are?
IC: Not even close.
Not even 6-foot-5 or something like that?
IC: Not close. My father is like 6-foot tall.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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