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Q&A: Jeremy Sochan on Victor Wembanyama, Spurs' young core, more

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One year ago, Jeremy Sochanwalked across the stage at Barclays Center and shook Adam Silver’shand after the San Antonio Spurs selected him with the No. 9 pickin the 2022 NBA Draft.

Now, after an terrific seasonthat earned him an All-Rookie Second-Team selection, Sochan isreturning to New York and attending the NBA Draft once again— this time as a media correspondent for the NBA’s app andsocial-media accounts.

Sochan will conduct red-carpetinterviews with this year's top prospects, including No. 1 pickVictor Wembanyama, who will soon be Sochan’s teammate. Wembanyamais the most hyped-up prospect since LeBron James, and all eyes willbe on San Antonio next season after adding the potentialsuperstar.

The Spurs will have one of themost promising young cores in the NBA, and the pieces fit togetherincredibly well. Sochan, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell willperfectly complement Wembanyama’s skill-set, and all four playersare age-23 or younger. It’s an exciting time to be a Spurs fan, andit certainly seems that San Antonio has found its next franchisecornerstones.

As a rookie, Sochan turned headswith his dyed hair and one-handed free throws. However, he alsoproved he belongs in the NBA and flashed glimpses of brilliancethroughout the campaign.

The 19-year-old averaged 11.0points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 stocks while shooting45.3% from the field, 24.6% from three and 69.8% from thefree-throw line. Over the final month of the season, Sochan waseven better, averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and1.2 steals, while shooting 48.3% from the field and 76.9% from thecharity stripe.

Before Sochan transitions tointerviewer mode, he spoke to Basketball News’ Alex Kennedy as theinterviewee and discussed Wembanyama’s game, his advice for theincoming rookies, the Spurs’ terrific young core, his interest inbroadcasting, his one-handed free throws and more.

After a successful rookie season that culminated in anAll-Rookie Second-Team selection, what advice would you give tothis incoming class of rookies?

Jeremy Sochan:“Stand your ground, but also listen, be open to [feedback] and becoachable. Just be able to go into an organization and show themthat you want to work hard and that you want to be there. Also,listen to your elders – your coaches and your vets – because that’sgoing to help you. The other thing is consistency. They’re comingfrom a season where they’ve played 30 or 40 games, and now they’regoing into a season where they’re playing 82 games (plus theplayoffs, if you make it). Just try to be consistent because it’s alot of games and it wears down on your body, so try to doeverything to help that.”

Victor Wembanyama is one of the most hyped-up prospectsin NBA history. His size and length are obviously crazy, but whataspects of his skill-set impress you and what are some things thatshould help him in the NBA?

Sochan: “Ithink it’s just the footwork for his size, the mobility for hissize and the touch for his size. I think that all adds up into himbeing an all-around player, and his height just gives him so manyadvantages, for real. I think [his skill-set] is really excitingand it’s going to be really good for him.”

I’ve talked to scouts and executives who believe thatyou and Victor will complement each other really well. Do you feelthat your skill-sets are a good fit? And how can you guys help eachother on the court?

Sochan: “Ofcourse, ifit happens…”

Oh, right. Assuminghe’s a Spur, how would you guys help each other on thecourt?

Sochan:“Yeah, assuming it happens, I think we both have a lot ofversatility, especially on the defensive side. He’s a rim protectorand he’s very lengthy, and then I’m very destructive and I can play1 through 5, so I think there’s a lot of potential there. And thenoffensively, I feel like I’ll be able to get him into good spotsand be able to play-make for him and make the game easy for him. Ithink we complement each other’s games really well and I think it’sreally exciting if, potentially, that happens.”

Again, assuming Wembanyama is the pick, he’ll join thisyoung core in San Antonio that already consists of you, KeldonJohnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, Zach Collins, Malaki Branham,Romeo Langford and Blake Wesley among others. What do you think ofall this young talent, and where does this group rank among thebest young cores in the NBA?

Sochan: “Ithink the thing about our young core is that we all want to bearound San Antonio, we all want to work together and we all want tobe better. I think we’re all very motivated to just work. We have[the opportunity] to be around the Spurs and just work, and I thinkthat really helps. Personally, I think we’re one of the best youngcores in the league. I’m not a guy that likes to rank [teams] andstuff, but I definitely think we’re up there."

Gregg Popovich is arguably the best coach in NBA historyand the Spurs are known for getting the most out of players.Sometimes, legends like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will stop byto work out with you guys. What can you share about your experiencein the Spurs’ organization and how they help players realize theirfull potential?

Sochan: “Ithink they’re just really keen and want to help us withopportunities, and it’s all very team-based. They’re alwayscommunicating with the players and showing us the way. The Spurshave a winning culture; they’ve won for so long so they know theblueprint. They give us that blueprint and try to find players whoactually want to work for that. That’s what they’re really good at,finding those kinds of players [who will buy in]. They help us alot.”

You and Victor played against each other back when youwere 15 and he was 14. Your team won, and you joked on Twitter that neither of you were goodback then. Do you have a relationship with Victor and when did yourealize he could be a special player?

Sochan: “Wedon’t really have a relationship like that, but I’ve talked to hima couple times. And like you said, we played against each other sothere is a relationship in that sense, but it’s nothing crazy. Butyeah, I played against him back then, and he already had a lot ofpotential, so it’s exciting to see how he grew and how popular hegot over the years. I think he’s a very exciting prospect and he’sgoing to do a lot of good stuff for himself.”

Paolo Banchero, Walker Kessler, Bennedict Mathurin andJalen Williams served as media correspondents during the NBAFinals, and now you’re going to be the league’s NBA Draftcorrespondent tonight. I know you’ve done some interviews before,like your chat with TonyParker. Are you hoping to do more broadcastingor media stuff in the future?

Sochan: “Potentially! If I get the opportunity to doit, then why not? I feel like I’m pretty good at it; I’m natural.So yeah, if there’s an opportunity, I’ll do it.”

Did you do any research about the players or prepare anyquestions? What kind of prep goes into being an NBA Draft mediacorrespondent?

Sochan: “(laughs) Yeah, I’ve been able to prep a bitand do some research on the players. I’ve talked to the peoplearound me who know a bit more than I do. And sometimes it’s just onthe go too and just being able to do it [on the fly]. But yeah, I’mexcited to be here for the draft. It’s kinda cool to come back hereafter a year and still remember everything [from my draft night],just all of the emotions and stuff. And [it’s fun] just to be herefor all of this year’s draft prospects too.”

You let fans vote on what color you’ll dye yourhair for tonight’s NBA Draft. When did youstart dying your hair and using that as a way to expressyourself?

Sochan: “Iprobably started two years ago or two-and-a-bit years ago. It wasjust something that I always wanted to do, just to be able toshowcase [who I am] and be myself. And it shows people that you cando whatever with your body and be proud of it. Just beconfident!”

Your one-handed free throws really worked and improvedyour free-throw percentage over the course of the season. Iactually wrote anarticle about how it could influence otherplayers to make the same change. Would you recommend shootingone-handed to players who want to improve their free-throwpercentage?

Sochan: “Yeah,why not? The thing is, if it’s working and it helps your shot, whynot do it? When I started doing it, I feel like a lot of peoplewere like, ‘Why are you doing that? or, ‘It looks weird,’ orwhatever. Or they’d ask like, ‘How did you do it mentally?’ But I’mgoing to do anything [to improve] my game and help me. If thathelps, I’m going to do it. And who cares if people laugh at you?Who cares if there are critics who talk about it? It is what it isat the end of the day and if it’s helping me, I’m going to doit.”

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