Marcelo Huertas: "I'm very confident I will be a Top 25 pick "
Marcelo Huertas: Yeah, my father played in college and then played here in Brazil. My brother played, too. He played for a year and then quit.
Were they good?
MH: Yeah. My father was alright. But my brother was very good. But he decided to quit.
Growing up in a basketball family, was there ever any chance that could have played any other sport that was not basketball?
MH: I never seriously played any other sport that was not basketball. It was always basketball. Well, I did some gymnastics. But that was when I was like 3. Then I did some swimming when I was 6. Other than that, it was always basketball.
Most soccer players in Brazil grow up in very poor families. What kind of people play basketball in Brazil? Is it a similar situation?
MH: It's almost the same in soccer and in basketball. Most of the players come from very poor families. For me, it was different. I had the chance to grow up in a family that could afford to buy me things. I had toys and all, you know. I'm glad I had a good family growing up. But for most players, it's a much more difficult situation. They play cause they really need the money. Hadn't I played basketball, I would've had the chance to study and get a good job. It's not like that for most players. I chose basketball because I think I'm talented and I think I made a good decision, but for many other players there is no other choice but sports if they want to get money.
How good is the competition in the Brazilian league?
MH: I think it's a great competition. We have a couple of teams from each state and I think it's the best competition around -- probably the best league in South America.
It was always said that they didn't play much defense in Brazil. Is it still the same now?
MH: It's not one of the best things, but it's getting better. Me personally, I think defense is my weakest point. I think I have a lot of offensive talent, but I don't play very good defense right now. I don't know why, but that's the way it is. That's why I want to go and play in America, so that they teach me tricks and I'm able to play better defense.
Which players do you have more problems guarding: quick players or strong players?
MH: I would say bigger players. I get beat a lot when they take me to the post. Playing defense one-on-one, I think I'm OK. The problem is when they post me up. That's what I find more difficult.
Why do you think Brazil is producing so many talented players now?
MH: We always had good people -- at least a couple of great players. It's just that they were not looking. But now with players going to the NBA or Europe like Nenê, Leandro, Anderson Varejao... They are now paying attention and realizing that there are many talented players. We were always good, but they are only now giving us a chance.
This is only your second year playing professional basketball in Brazil. How are you doing this season?
MH: It's been a good season for me. I'm averaging 16 points per game and almost five assists. I can do better, but it's been pretty good in my opinion. I'm just working to get better and better.
You had a tryout with Benetton Treviso (one of the best clubs in Europe) a few weeks ago. Why didn't you stay there?
MH: Well, first of all that was not a great situation for me. They didn't say they wanted me, they just wanted me to practice with the team for a week or so. They wanted to take a look at what I could do. Besides, it was in the midseason and I don't think they were interested in bringing a player that didn't know the coach and the way he wanted players to play. Also, it would have been difficult for me to play there cause they already had two established point guards. Probably they just wanted to see how good I was in order to call me next year.
For those who haven't seen you play, how would you describe yourself as a player?
MH: Quick point guard that sees the floor pretty well. I think my shooting is pretty good. I have good percentages from the three-point line. I think my best thing is my ability to cut and drive to the basket. And I can jump pretty well for a 6-2, 6-3 point guard.
What things do you have in common with Leandrinho Barbosa?
MH: I think my quickness and my ability to drive to the basket. We both make a couple of mistakes that are the same. Maybe we force the shot or the pass sometimes. But I think those are the common mistakes you do when you are young and playing in a high level competition. That is what we have in common. I'm not as big as he is, but I'm nearly as quick as he is.
I read an opinion by an NBA scout that compared you to Steve Nash. Is that a good comparison?
MH: It's a good comparison. He is one of the best point guards in the NBA and I can relate to him. You know, he is a white guy that is not American but worked hard and has become a star in the NBA. He is not as quick as the black players in the NBA, but has made it because he is very intelligent and reads the game very well. I think we have a similar style. We both see the floor well and have the ability to hit big shots, too.
How much attention do you pay to the NBA? Do you follow the league much?
MH: Not really. It's difficult to do that here because we only have two games on TV every week. Sometimes I check the results on the Internet and I see all the games I can, but it's not easy.
What are your plans regarding the NBA Draft? Are you going to declare this year?
MH: Yes, I think I will. First of all, I'm not still sure I am ready to play there right now. But I'm pretty much sure that when I go there (for workouts) I will work very hard, I will be ready and I will make it. I want to go there and when I want something I pursue it to the fullest. I never stop till I get what I want.
Would you still declare if you are not guaranteed to be a first-round pick?
MH: Probably not. But I'm pretty much sure I will be a first-round pick. I'm very confident I will be a Top 25 pick. My dream is to play in the NBA and like I said I always pursue my dreams to the fullest. If I'm not a first-round pick, I'd probably be an early second. I'm still not sure what I would do in that case. I would have to talk about it with my people. It's a tough decision to make.
Your English is very good. Where did you learn it?
MH: Well, I played one year in America.
MH: Yeah, I played one year in Texas. My senior year in high school. I learned good English there. They also teach English in Brazil in school, but it's not very good (laughs). So most of my English, I learned it there.
How was your experience in Texas?
MH: It was very good, very positive. Just having the chance to experience life away from your family, it's a great experience. And my team did really well. We were thought to be the fifth or sixth best team in the competition, but we went almost undefeated. We lost only in the regional finals, I think. It was a great experience.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com.
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