Just last week, Blake Wesley was drafted No. 25 overall in the NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs. A strong downhill guard who can get to the rim, his game has a lot of Donovan Mitchell to it with his explosive first step.
Listed at 6-foot-5, his near 7-foot wingspan gives him the ability to overmatch opposing backcourt players. His rudimentary defensive prowess is already there, so he should not have trouble getting minutes sooner rather than later, especially with Dejounte Murray traded away from San Antonio.
On the same day his hometown of South Bend named June 30 the Jaden Ivey and Blake Wesley Day, Wesley spoke with HoopsHype about what it was like to get the NBA draft green room invite, his quiet nature, and his comparisons to Jordan Poole.
How has practice been like since you were drafted just a week ago? From covering the past few summers with USA Basketball, I know Coach Greg Popovich is big on camaraderie and developing bonds off the court. Has he given you his words of wisdom yet?
Blake Wesley: No, not yet. It’s going to happen eventually, but he hasn’t been talking to me about that yet. He has been talking to me a little about my game. though, because yesterday during five-on-five, I had a floater, and he said to use my floater. He was talking to me about using more of my tools [that Wesley is already good at].
You started working with Herbalife Nutrition IMPACT Basketball with influential coach Joe Abunassar. You recently said you shoot 800 to 900 shots a day with Joe. Have you ever gotten that much repetition previously before?
BW: Joe has been helping me with my shooting, trying to help me get more consistent. I’ve been working with Joe at IMPACT in Vegas, so he’s helped me a lot during this process [leading up to the draft].
I’ve been focusing on my shooting ever since I was in my pre-draft. Just getting more consistent, getting more arc on it, so it can go in every time. That’s what they been telling me, make every shot.
Who do you model your game after?
BW: I model my game after Jordan Poole and Caris LeVert. I like the way Jordan Poole plays so I try to model my game after him. And then Caris LeVert has the boogie to him, so I try to get boogie like him, so I like both of them.
Do you see yourself eventually getting to the level of a shooter Jordan Poole is?
BW: Oh yeah, for sure. I mean I’m not there yet. I’m still learning to be a better shooter. That’s my goal to be a great shooter like him.
With Dejounte Murray traded, and the Spurs using three first-round picks already, do you feel more pressure now to deliver for such a storied franchise?
BW: We probably gotta earn it, just like I earned it at Notre Dame. It’s not given to you. I earned every right to be a Spur. Nothing’s going to be handed to me. If we earn it, I feel like we’re going to get the keys to the car.
How was it like to be one of 24 to get the call into the NBA draft green room?
BW: It was good. I didn’t make the Top 16 like it was supposed to be. I feel like I had a chance to be in the Top 16. I didn’t let that faze me. At the end of the day, I got a green room invite, so that was good for me, so I’m excited. It was a one-time opportunity and it was a blessing for me and my family.
Do you feel like you have a chip on your shoulder now? Draymond Green has famously talked about remembering all 34 players who were taken before him. Are you also keeping mental notes on who went before you?
BW: For sure, I always have a chip on my shoulder regardless of Top 16 or not. I’m not satisfied with myself right now. Getting 1 percent better every day, and just competing.
I do, I just don’t say anything to the public. I just show my stuff on the court, whether it be Top 16, Top 10 pick. But at the end of the day, I was picked No. 25, which I like, my family likes, so we’re blessed to be in that position, and I’m happy for all the guys that got drafted before me.
I’m not that kind of guy that likes to talk all the time. I just like to show my game on the court.
The last time a Notre Dame player was drafted in the first round was Jerian Grant. What does it mean to be drafted in the first round?
BW: It means a lot. I enjoyed watching Jerian Grant play at Notre Dame when I was young, so to be a first-round pick from Notre Dame is good for me. Coming from South Bend, it means a lot. We put on for the city. The city doesn’t get a lot of love like it’s supposed to be, so it’s a blessing to represent.
With how easy the game came for you in college, you didn’t have to rely much on your jump shot. The NBA is predicated on being able to hit threes. How do you think you have what it takes to make guys in the NBA respect your shot?
BW: Getting to the rim and shooting. I don’t think some people think I can shoot. I gotta show that at Summer League, and hopefully get that respect going into the season.
I feel like defense comes first. If you can impact the game on both ends. I love to defend and impact the game. That can change the game a lot.