HoopsHype.com Interviews

Al Jefferson: "I've been feeling ready for the NBA since junior high"
by Marc Narducci / June 17, 2004

What is it that you have to work on the most to prepare for the NBA?

Al Jefferson: I feel like I have to work on everything. There is so much that I have to improve on.

You look to be in good shape, but that wasn't always the case.

AJ: My junior year I weighed a lot and worked real hard and now I weigh 255 pounds. I feel I'm in pretty good shape compared to what I used to be and I can be in better shape.

What was your highest weight?

AJ: I was right at 300 pounds.

What could you add to the 76ers or any team?

AJ: Low post, rebounding, anything they want me to do. I will work hard. I feel I can help.

What would it be like to have the opportunity to play with Allen Iverson?

AJ: That's even better. I can do one thing, rebounding. He can score. He can take over. I feel I could help.

Not many players are skilled at playing with their back to the basket. Talk about that because you seem comfortable doing that.

AJ: I love playing with my back to basket. I feel I am more effective that way. It's easier to score because you can do so many moves from the post.

Do you think it will hurt you that you played in a small high school (Prentiss in Prentiss, Mississippi)?

AJ: It's a small school but if you are a great player you will be noticed. You may not be noticed as quickly as other players in bigger and more well known high schools, but in the long run you will get noticed.

In watching the NBA finals, what went through your mind?

AJ: I can see myself there in five years, but I was really mad when I was watching them.

Why were you mad?

AJ: I'm a Lakers fan. They weren't playing together as a team, but that's a whole other subject.

When did you reach the point that you felt you'd be ready for the NBA out of high school?

AJ: To be honest I've been feeling this way since junior high. I always felt like I could be somebody who had a chance to get drafted out of high school. Kobe did it, Garnett did it. I felt I was going to be one of the ones to do it to. Especially with the (high school) guys coming out of Mississippi such as Jonathan Bender and Travis Outlaw, I felt like I could do it.

Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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