A point guard by nature, Holiday spent the majority of his time playing off the ball due to the presence of Collison. This fact, coupled with Ben Howlands slow-paced offensive system, prevented Holiday from getting very many touches or allowing him the freedom to create. Scouts who have seen tape of the freshman from his days as a prep star in California know that Holiday is a blossoming talent with an intriguing skill set to go along with good size for his position.
Holiday has been preparing for the draft since UCLAs season came to an end back in March, but has yet to officially make a decision on whether or not he will keep his name in the draft. DraftExpress sat down with Holiday to talk about his training, his year in the Pac-10 and what the future holds for this talented youngster.
DraftExpress: Since the season ended what have you been up to? Where have you been working out?
Jrue Holiday: Ive been at IMG in Florida working out for about 3 ½ weeks. Before that I was in California working out at a gym called 360.
DX: What have you been focusing on in your training? What are you looking to fine tune for individual workouts?
JH: Im really trying to improve my jump shot because people dont think I have one. You can always improve ball handling too. Im working on being able to shoot coming off of screens and just making better decisions. Being at these workouts isnt always 1-on-1 stuff, theres going to be 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills, so its important to make smart decisions.
DX: During these workouts what are you hoping to show off that we didnt get to see this year at UCLA?
JH: That Im a floor general, a leader, a captain and that I can run a team. Even though I didnt get a chance to last year and I didnt perform the way I wanted to, at the next level my position is a point guard. I truly dont think people saw that this year.
DX: Overall how did you feel about your season at UCLA?
JH: It wasnt to my liking; it wasnt up to my standards. At the same time though, I loved it, it was a learning experience. Even though I felt I played out of position, it was something new that I have to learn to deal with. I know that I can play off the ball now and that I dont always have to have the ball in my hands. I learned that when Im off the ball I can still be a leader, I can direct people in ways that can help the team succeed.
DX: Were there ever points during the season where you wish you had gone to a different school where you would have been the focal point of the offense?
JH: No, it never did. I chose UCLA because I thought it was the best place for me. You know North Carolina was in my top three and they won it all this year. Even though they won it all, I still dont feel like it was the right place for me. Washington was interested and they had a good year as well, but I felt like UCLA was the best fit and I still think it was.
DX: Have you been talking with Coach Howland during this process?
JH: We have; I saw him before I left for Florida a couple of weeks ago. We sat down and had a meeting, he just wanted to reiterate that hes one hundred percent behind me and hes actually helping me keep up with my school work. Even though he would like for me to come back, he thinks Ill succeed in the NBA.
DX: Has he talked to you at all about next year? If you were to return for your sophomore year would the point guard position be yours?
JH: He did talk to me about things towards the end of this season. Hes told me that the ball is going to be in my hands a lot more if I come back next season.
DX: What have you learned from playing under him this season?
JH: That I need to be more of a leader. Last year I kind of just laid back because we had Darren [Collison] as our senior point guard. Even though hes a senior I could have been a leader too while I was on the court. I think really the biggest thing was trying to be more of a leader.
DX: You were a highly ranked player in your high school class. If the NBA didnt have an age limit, would you have skipped college for the draft?
JH: I dont really know. Thats something Id have to sit down and talk with my parents and advisors about. If I felt I was ready at that time, then I definitely would have taken that opportunity. I guess since theyve put that rule in, Ive never really looked at it.
DX: You said that you didnt live up to your own expectations for this season. Given that youve only played this season at the college level, how much stock do you think NBA teams should invest in your high school ranking and how you performed at that level?
JH: I dont know, I really couldnt tell you. High school and college basketball are two completely different systems. College is obviously a lot harder than high school. People change a lot during that one year, some people get worse, but for the most part players get better. Most of the time in college youre not the man anymore, you dont get to do what you did in high school because you didnt get the ball as much, or didnt play as much, whatever it is. Im not really sure if the NBA even looks at what you did in college; when you come to these camps you get to lay it all out for everyone to see.
DX: You recently had a workout with Sacramento, how did that go?
JH: I thought it went really well. I was out there for a day; I was really aggressive I thought. I was the biggest point guard there for sure; I thought there were going to be some more guards my size to be honest. I thought I shot the ball really well and they warmed up to while I was there.
DX: Can you see yourself going 4th overall and landing with the Kings?
JH: I can, absolutely. If they feel they can use another point guard, I feel like Im that player who can step in and fill that role. Whether its leadership, scoring, getting the right man the ball, or whatever they need, I think I can do that.
DX: What is the range of teams that you are going to be working out for?
JH: I think the range is probably from one to twenty. But my advisors are handling that, Im not entirely sure.
DX: How much is your size going to help you as a point guard prospect?
JH: I think it will a lot because all of the point guards Ive played against have been shorter than me. Im only eighteen years old so Im still growing and still getting bigger. Im actually a smart player; Im just as quick and fast as any of the other players.
DX: Where are you in terms of your decision to stay in the draft? Are you going to need a promise from a team in order to keep your name in?
JH: Im really going to have to sit down and talk with my advisors and my parents. Were going to have to see if staying in is going to be the best decision or if going back to school would be better.
DX: Is there anyone in the NBA that you think you compare to? Is there anyone you try to model your game after?
JH: I try to model mine after Deron Williams; hes a big point guard with a great handle and he can shoot the ball. Theres also Chauncey Billups, just how hes able to walk in and lead a team.
DX: You played both the 1 and the 2 in college. Do you see yourself transitioning full time to the point?
JH: Thats my position, the point guard. At the same time I can play the two-guard, but I am a point guard.
DX: Do you think youre more suited to running an up tempo offense or a half court offense?
JH: I honestly think that Im in between, I can do both. What I like to do more of is the up and down, just fly, get highlights and all of that. It really doesnt matter though, I can make the same progress in a half court situation as I can flying up and down the court.
DX: Have you had the opportunity to talk to any players who have gone through this process?
JH: I talked to Steve Francis, he was at IMG. Hes a veteran so hes been through this, but he just told us to stay positive. Its a long process, your body is going to get worn and youre going to have some bad workouts. But ultimately just work hard, stay positive and enjoy this process, it only happens once in a lifetime.