HoopsHype.com Interviews

Rick Rickert: "Declaring for the draft was not a bad decision"
by Jorge Sierra / September 11, 2003

- Played the McDonald's All-American Game in 2001.
- Played college ball at Minnesota from 2001 to 2003.
- First Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Minnesota's history.
- Named to the All-Big Ten 1st Team in 2003.
- Selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves as 55th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
- Signed with Krka Novo Mesto (Slovenia) in August 2003.

Why did you decide to go to Slovenia?

Rick Rickert: I thought it was a great opportunity for me. I was told that this was a great team and a great club and I decided to come over here.

Do you like what you've seen in the country so far?

RR: Oh yeah, this is beautiful. And I'm learning a lot. You know, coming from the U.S., it gives you a new perspective. It's a great learning experience.

Anything in common between Slovenia and Minnesota?

RR: (Laughs) Not landwise. We have have no mountains in Minnesota and there's a lot here. But they have things in common. There is a lot of green, a lot of trees... And the people is very nice here, too.

Do you have good memories of your two years playing at the University of Minnesota?

RR: Oh yeah, I'll never forget that. It was great thing for me to play for Dan Monson. He was a great teacher. I'll never forget the college experience.

But you recently said you've spent a lot of time thinking about if you should have gone to Arizona, that maybe that could have been a better situation for you.

RR: No, no. The best situation for me was going to Minnesota. If I had gone somewhere else, I would still be the same player, anyway. I would have worked equally hard. Anyway, the best situation for me was definitely Minnesota.

Why did you decide to enter the draft this year?

RR: To step up in my career. I wanted to play against better competition and, you know, take my game to the next level.

There were some reports that your decision to go pro was due in part to the fact that you were not comfortable enough playing with the Gophers.

RR: Oh. What did they say?

They said that your relationship with the coach and some players in the team was not very good. Any truth to that?

RR: I don't think there is any truth to to that. Dan Monson was a great person and everything. He was a good teacher for me. No, there is no truth to that.

Looking back, do you think it was a bad decision to declare for the draft this year?

RR: Not at all. Not at all! I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't done that. I don't think it was a bad decision.

You were projected as a lottery pick in February and March and then you slipped to the second round. What went wrong?

RR: I don't know. I really don't know what happened, but everything happens for a reason. It wasn't expected, but there is nothing you can do about that.

What came to your mind when you knew you were not going to be selected in the first round?

RR: I was in shock. I was expecting to go a little higher (laughs), but that's the way things went. Yeah, I was in shock. I didn't know why that happened, but everything happens for a reason. I think God has a plan.

Did Kevin McHale give you any explanation about why the Timberwolves were not offering you a guaranteed contract?

RR: Well, I knew If I came over here, I would get more playing time and more experience. You know, Kevin McHale gave me the option. He told me, "you can stay here and try this year or you can go to Europe, get some burn and return next year." I thought about it and my decision was that the best thing for me was coming over here.

So you are going to stay in Slovenia only one year?

RR: I have no idea. Who's to say that? I might stay here one year, two years or even more time. I don't know. It's too early to say.

Do you want to play small forward or power forward there?

RR: I'm interchangeable. I can play in the perimeter, I can play in the post. I guess it will all depend on the matchup situations, who's guarding me and that kind of things. I'm pretty flexible.

What do you think you have to work on the most to get a chance in the NBA?

RR: I have to get stronger. I have a lot of skills. I have strengths, but I need to get bigger. And faster. I just have to keep on working hard like I've always done.

Finally, what do you think the Timberwolves are going to do this year? Do you think they have a shot at the ring?

RR: It's too early to say. There are many new players there, a lot of new faces. It will depend on how well they mesh with each other. If they mesh well, I think they will make a good run and may have a chance to win the championship.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com.

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