HoopsHype.com Interviews

Pavel Podkolzin: "I hope to stay in the draft"
by Jorge Sierra / June 4, 2003

Many big men start playing basketball because that's what people expect them to do. Was that your case? What was your main motivation to start playing?

Pavel Podkolzin: I started playing basketball in Novosibirsk (Russia) five years ago and I fell in love with this sport very quickly. Now I play basketball because I love this sport.

How is a day in the life of Pavel Podkolzin right now?

PP: It is a normal day. I live with my teammate Federico Marin and we have practice twice every day. We spend time with other two teammates -- Sasha Knezevic from Vienna and Ryan McCormack from New York City. We like to hear music and watch some good movies.

Has life changed much for you as of late?

PP: No. Varese is quite a cold town and people respect other people.

You were virtually an unknown player for the NBA until ESPN.com broke that story about you. How much do you feel that story has helped to your exposure?

PP: I think it has helped a lot, and also because coach Beugnot started to put me on the court.

How many scouts came to see you play before that story appeared on ESPN.com?

PP: I think four or five.

And after the story was published?

PP: 12 or 13.

Is it true that you are still growing?

PP: Yes, it is true. Now I am 2.25 (7-5).

We've heard you've had some injury problems this year? What was the main problem?

PP: Not so many injuries... I only sprained my ankles twice.

And how do you feel now?

PP: Very well.

Darko Milicic recently said you don't move very well. What do you say about that?

PP: I will just work to get better. I need to work.

How did you cope with the lack of playing time in Varese? Didn't you get frustrated?

PP: No frustration. I am very young and I went to Varese to work, not to play.

Do you feel the lack of playing time could hurt your draft stock?

PP: I don't know. Now I am a young player and I would like to work hard to improve my game.

Why did you decide to skip the Chicago pre-draft camp?

PP: I just received my visa today (Wednesday, June 4).

Are you going to workout for any team before draft day?

PP: Yes. I am sorry, but I don't know exactly for which ones today.

At this moment, are you leaning towards staying in the draft or will you withdraw your name?

PP: I hope to stay in the draft.

What could make you change your mind?

PP: I don't know. I just would like to play and learn the NBA game.

In case you stay in the draft and get selected in a good position, what would you rather do: go to the NBA right away or wait and develop your game in Europe?

PP: It is very difficult to answer this question now. It depends. The clubs, my manager and I will have to talk about it together.

Would the amount of the buyout of your contract be a factor in your decision?

PP: I am so young... I don't know anything about this. I will follow my manager's decision.

Other than your size, what do you think is the biggest asset you can bring to an NBA team?

PP: At this moment, my main goal is just to learn to play basketball and follow the suggestions of my coaches. They will teach me and they will tell me what's best for me, I hope.

Any NBA team in particular where do you think you could be a good fit?

PP: The NBA is the best league in the world and his clubs are the best...

Finally, is there any player in the NBA you would like to resemble to in the future?

PP: Some time ago, my manager showed me and old video of Kareem, Robert Parish and his hero Bill Walton... But I am Pavel, and in the future I would like to be just Pavel the Siberian man.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com. Gianni Chiapparo, Pavel's manager, helped conduct the interview.

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