D’Angelo Russell, ranked as ESPN’s 24th best player in the 2014 class, has been one of the best players at the National High School Invitational this year. His Montverde Academy Eagles are headed to the championship game Saturday afternoon on ESPN thanks to his strong play on the court. I got a chance to briefly speak with Russell after his team’s thrilling 57-55 victory over Prime Prep, in which he sank two free throws with 6.6 seconds left to seal the win. He finished the game with 20 points and was the game’s leading scorer.
TSMD: How has the recruiting process gone for you so far?
D’Angelo Russell: It’s been great. I kinda let my dad get the contact numbers from the coaches. I kind of just focus on getting through high school right now, and I’ll think about that during the summertime. But it’s going great.
TSMD: Have you heard from the University of Maryland and how do you like their school?
Russell: I kinda watched them a little bit this year on TV. It’s a good school, it’s a good environment. I like them. The arena is nice just from [viewing it on TV]. And they have a great coach [Mark Turgeon], he seems like a great coach.
TSMD: If you had to compare your game to any one player, who would that be and why?
Russell: Definitely Jeremy Lamb. Lamb, not Lin *laughs*. I feel like, just watching him through college, he did whatever the coach had him doing. He’s valuable in that he can do whatever the coach wants him to do.
TSMD: What’s your summer looking like? Is there anything specific you do to improve your shooting?
I’m definitely in the gym every day. And a lot of rest, just from how long our season has been. I think shooting is just confidence. For example if Reggie Miller told you to do this, and your mom told you to do this, you’re going to believe what Reggie Miller told you to do because [he's a great shooter]. I just feel like it’s confidence. When I step into the gym, it’s just the same drills I’ve been doing my whole life, just repetition.
Obviously it’s very early in his recruitment and no one really knows where Russell would be headed at this point, but the fact that Dalonte Hill has already reached out to him is a good sign. Russell is in Big Blue country, and the Terps would likely be competing with Coach Calipari and Kentucky on this kid, so nabbing him wouldn’t be remotely easy. Given his play throughout this tournament, there will likely be a lot more suitors knocking at his door in the future. That the Terrapins reached out early could mean something, though. In terms of knock-down shooting, Russell may be the best in his class, and that would be a huge get for the Terps.
We’d like to thank Russell for his quick chat with us and wish him well in the future!