NBDL Interview: Pape Sow

NBDL Interview: Pape Sow
Jan 21, 2006, 12:04 pm
DraftExpress NBDL scout Mike Schmidt recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Pape Sow of the Toronto Raptors. Pape was recently called up by the Raptors after spending the majority of the season dominating in the NBDL. Sow shared his feelings about the D-League, along with some thoughts on the lifestyle of the NBDL and the NBA draft process among other things.

DraftExpress: What was your reaction when you found out you were sent to the D-League

Pape Sow: My reaction first of all was kind of like, upset, because I didn’t know what to expect. It was a long ways away to Arkansas, and I [had] never been to Arkansas. It was kind of hard.

DraftExpress: Has your perspective of the NBDL changed since you’ve spent time there?

Pape Sow: Nothing changed to me, it’s just the D-League. I just came over here, working my butt off. I have the same mentality I had when I first came over here. I didn’t change nothing, you know, so far.

DraftExpress: What have you gained in the time you’ve spent in the NBDL?

Pape Sow: You know, the time I’ve spent in the NBDL, that helps me with a lot of things, like just playing more basketball and getting better. The only way to get better is by playing ball. When you’re not playing for a while, it kind of lowers your level, but now I’m getting back to how I used to play, and that’s a good thing for me.

DraftExpress: Would you rather sit on the bench in the NBA or dominate in the D-League?

Pape Sow: I want to come over here and play, because, the bench doesn’t make you no better. I want to come over here, and dominate and play, and get better each day. I just take take it personal, and come over here and work my tail off, that’s all you got to do, because I don’t like sitting on the bench for 80-something games. I think coming over here and getting yourself in shape, that’s better than just sitting on the bench, because everybody who loves the game wants to play.

DraftExpress: How does the level of competition compare to the NCAA?

Pape Sow: When you look the [NBDL] players, some come from college, some were already in this league, and some come from overseas, so it’s a bit better than the NCAA.

DraftExpress: How noticeable is the talent gap between the D-League and the NBA?

Pape Sow: There’s a lot of difference in talent, because all of the players in the NBDL are trying to make it, you know. So whatever they are going to do, they are going to show their skill. 200 players are trying to make it, everyone is wishing that they would get a call. In the NBA, it’s different. You got to bring your game every night to stay in the league, but down here in the NBDL, you got to work on what teams want to see. Sometimes players just worry about their game, you know, just trying to get called up. Some players may think a lot of shots is going to get me to the league, some players think defense is going to bring them to the league, some players think they’ve got to block shots, get rebounds to get into the league, everybody has their different opinion on how to get to the next level. There are some good players in the NBDL, there are good players in the NBA, everywhere you go you’re going to see some good players. The thing is, do they have what it takes to make it in the league? That’s what it is at the end of the day, because you can be good, you know, scoring 30 and you will not get called up because a lot of GMs want to see little things. That’s why a lot of people get called up, those little things on the court.

DraftExpress: What do you feel your natural position is?

Pape Sow: Me, I can play any position. I’m the kind of player that wherever you put me, I’ll go play. I’m a basketball player, I don’t like to say ‘Oh I’ll just play over here,’ I’ll play any position you put me at. I’m not scared of playing any position, just tell me where to go and I’ll go for it, that’s who I am.

DraftExpress: Where do you think you fit within the current Raptors lineup?

Pape Sow: You know, I think I can play center, but they can put me- I don’t care where they put me, because last year I played defense on 3s, 2s, you know, big men, 5s, 4s, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m a baller, I’m just going to go out there and leave everything on the floor, because everything comes from the heart. If you say you want to do it, then you go and do it.

DraftExpress: Who do you pattern your game after?

Pape Sow: To me, I think- I dunno, people used to tell me I’m just like Ben Wallace, I used to hear people say, ‘Oh, he’s like Kevin Garnett,’ but to me, I’m just Pape. When people say I play like Ben Wallace, that’s a good compliment. Ben Wallace is a good player, good defender, rebounder, and that’s what I do, rebound, defend, play hard, and help my teammates.

DraftExpress: A couple weeks ago Sam Mitchell said there is no room for you in the Toronto rotation. Did anyone in Toronto call and talk to you about this?

Pape Sow: No, I didn’t get called by nobody, but you got to know, he’s the coach of the team, you know. Every decision he makes is going to be for the good of the team. Whatever decision he makes, I’ll go with it. I’m not going to be sitting over here, bitching about [it]. If he called me and said we don’t have minutes for you with the team, first of all I’m going to ask him why, but I’m just going to work hard and hope it leads to minutes.

DraftExpress: Does the Raptors organization have any say over what role you play with the Rimrockers?

Pape Sow: No, they didn’t say nothing when I was sent down, they just told me to go get some minutes. Don’t worry about it, just play a lot, that’s all they told me.

DraftExpress: So any position the Rimrockers want to use you at is fine with the Raptors?

Pape Sow: Well, the coach (of Arkansas) told me I know you can score, so get ready to do it every night. So whatever the coach tells me, I’m just going to do it, that’s how I am. Whenever the coach tells me something, I’m going to do it to learn, because when I started playing basketball, it wasn’t that long ago. I want to learn, I’m dedicated to learning every day, so it doesn’t matter what the coach wants me to do, I’m just going to do it because I want to get better.

DraftExpress: Tell us a little bit about the draft process.

Pape Sow: Well, the NBA draft process, you can’t really say anything about it, because no matter what, you’re not going to know until the last minute, you know what I mean?

DraftExpress: Yeah. Did you have a lot of individual workouts?

Pape Sow: Yeah, I worked out for more than 17 teams, and the thing is, you just gotta go work hard, you can’t just think one team is going to like you and then just draft you. You just have to go and leave everything on the floor, and hope the best comes either way. To me, the NBA Draft, when it was happening, I wasn’t expecting nothing to happen. I was saying ‘you know what, I’ll just have people inviting me to their [training] camp.’ I got drafted in the second round, and you know, that’s a plus for me. I’m here now, and I just got to keep working hard.

DraftExpress: How did you think you performed at the pre-draft camp in Chicago?

Pape Sow: I was leaving everything on the floor because a lot of the coaches and people there were calling me Little Ben Wallace. I was guarding bigs, I was guarding everybody, even some guards. Like I said earlier, I’m the kind of player that can play any position you put me at.

DraftExpress: So did you think you had a chance at being a first rounder?

Pape Sow: You know what, yes. People besides me, yes. But the thing is, you don’t have any control over what the [NBA teams] are doing. The only thing you can control is how you play. That’s why I wasn’t worried about what they were doing. The only thing I worry about is trying to get better each night.

DraftExpress: What do you think of the recent influx of talent into the NBDL?

Pape Sow: The NBA people are watching the NBDL. If they think their players won’t get better, they won’t send them over here. See some NBA players doing good, it makes them want to send their players too, so they can do the same thing, get better without sitting on the bench.

DraftExpress: Do you think there is any animosity between D-League players making a couple hundred dollars a week, and NBA assigned players who make a half million dollars or more?

Pape Sow: No, I don’t care about the money because I’m playing good, all my teammates are playing good. I don’t see any difference about making a hundred dollars or making a million. It’s not about the money, it’s about the game. The money is just a plus, you’ve got to love what you are doing. You just have to be humble and thankful for what you have.

DraftExpress: What are the differences in lifestyle between the NBA and NBDL?

Pape Sow: You know, there’s a lot of differences, because if you look at the NBA, everything is perfect, you don’t worry about nothing. The NBDL, sometimes you get the players riding for 4 hours on a bus, and it’s kind of hard when you have to play the next day. And sometimes you stay in a hotel without a restaurant, and you can’t get room service to get the meal how you want to prepare your body how you want to. It’s different in the NBA, when every hotel you stay in has a restaurant in it, and you can prepare your body well with food the way you want it. But so far, I’m happy with where I am, and you just got to learn from it, it’s going to make me get better.

DraftExpress: As a player, are there any changes you would like the NBA to make regarding the D-League?

Pape Sow: Me, I can’t make that call at all, because whatever they are going to do, that’s their decision. The only thing I’m worried about is my game, and playing hard.

DraftExpress: What would you tell players coming into the league who would take being sent to the NBDL as an insult?

Pape Sow: A guy coming into the league and sent to the D-League, he should be happy to get playing time, because you’re doing what you love. Do you want to play, or just sit on the bench suited up? If you just want to play, you should love it. Maybe sometimes it’s going to be harder, and they wonder ’why are they sending me here,’ but at the end of the day, if you love the game, you should not be worried about it.

DraftExpress: Thanks a lot for your time Pape.

Pape Sow: Thank you too, for having me.

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