Rickey Paulding: "I have no regrets"
Rickey Paulding: It was the best offer and it was the best team. I knew this team [Hapoel Jerusalem] had done very well last season and also that it was a good level of competition for me. The fact that there are many American players here also helped. I just thought it would make the adjustment a lot easier for me.
What's your first impression of the country? Is it what you expected?
RP: It's been good so far. I had no idea so many people spoke English here. And the people is really friendly. It's been great so far.
There were two terrorist attacks as you arrived in the country. Are you worried about the security issue?
RP: No, I'm not worried about that. I feel safe. Obviously, I'll have to check and see what are the places where you can and you can't go. But I'm not worried about the security issue. I feel safe.
What's your personal goal this season playing in Israel?
RP: Just to get better as a player and help the team win. I know the team won a lot last year and I hope we win just as much as they did last season.
You had a very good junior year in Missouri, but the senior season wasn't that good. What went wrong?
RP: You know, there was an investigation [former Missouri player Ricky Clemons alleged he and other teammates had received cash from coaches] and that was really a distraction. Everybody was thinking about that. It was in the back of everybody's mind. That definitely didn't help.
So the Ricky Clemons scandal affected your game.
RP: Not just me. It was a team thing. It's not good when you are distracted with things like that. People are not completely focused.
Do you have any regret about not having entered the draft after your junior year, when your stock was higher?
RP: No regrets. I have no regrets about that. I just thought [staying another year] was the best thing for me to do at the time. Besides, I got to graduate and that was a good thing. A great experience. I did what I thought I needed to do and have no regrets about it.
What do you think is the main reason you didn't get selected in the first round?
RP: I don't know, probably my senior year. Maybe I didn't do a lot of the things they were expecting me to do. But I think everything happens for a reason. It's no big deal.
What was your reaction upon learning that the Pistons have selected you? Were you more disappointed that it was in the second round or happier that it was Detroit [where Rickey Paulding grew up]?
RP: I was really happy. Just getting drafted was great – especially being Detroit. Everything that helps me continue to play basketball is good news to me.
How was the experience with the Pistons this summer?
RP: I had a very good time with the Pistons. Being around the guys and the people in the organization felt great. I can only tell I really enjoyed my time with the team this summer.
When did you realize that you were not going to make the team this year? Did they tell you?
RP: At one point I just thought the best decision for me was trying to play somewhere else. The Pistons had a lot of people in my position, I knew that. In that situation, I thought I should go and get experience in another place rather than stay on the team, sit on the bench and not play at all.
Have they given you instructions on what they want you to work on the most?
RP: Nothing in especial. Just play basketball, gain experience and get ready for next summer.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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