Posted by Justin on September 3, 2013
Hello everybody, sorry it's been so long since my last journal entry. There were times I thought about writing one, but my summer schedule was pretty demanding.
It started with the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia. That was a great experience where I probably learned more off the court than on it. It was taught by a few current NBA players and some retired guys as well.
My team made it to the championship but ended up losing. I was named to the all-tournament team. I spoke with some of the people who voted for the MVP award and they said it came down to me and Cheick Diallo. He got it because his team won and he was fantastic throughout the tournament.
Our next stop was in Chapel Hill for a few days so my brother could be in Coach (Roy) Williams's camp. After a couple of days of hanging out, I participated and I had a good time with the guys in my age group. Being on campus for those few days just confirmed my decision even more.
It really felt like home. It certainly won't take the place of my real home, but I'm looking forward to being there next year this time. The fans were great – sometimes it's a little much how they keep track of you – and the atmosphere was amazing.
At the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Washington, D.C., it was fun competing with all the great wings around the country. I actually got to guard Kevin Durant a little bit and he guarded me some. That's one of the best experiences I've ever had. If I'm blessed enough to make it to the NBA, I'll remember the time I played against him in high school. I'm not telling you what happened when he guarded me.
You might not believe me, but I don't pay a lot of attention at camps and tournaments to other guys who are playing well. I just try and focus on me and getting better every day. A couple of guys stood out to me though, like JaQuan Newton, Stanley Johnson and Jae'Sean Tate.
If you didn't know, we finished in the quarterfinals at Peach Jam. Me and Kelly Oubre were pretty tired from all the camps. We had to suck it up and play and it just wasn't our year. It didn't end how we wanted it to, but we played well most of the season.
On the Nike EYBL circuit, I was probably most impressed with two guys, my future point guard Joel Berry and shooting guard Malik Newman.
His team was really good, but Joel was the point guard, facilitating everything on a championship team. That's the whole point, winning. Malik had a huge number on us one game, something like 40 points. His team wasn't that good, but he carried them all season.
Before closing out the summer with the Elite 24, my family and I took a vacation in Florida.
Basketball is my love, not my job, and it takes up so much time during the summer that sometimes it's nice just to get away from everything.
We were in Florida in a town named Seaside, and it was so much fun. I turned off my phone and just totally unplugged from the business and drama that comes with camps and AAU.
Honestly, I had as much fun just building sandcastles with my family as I did on the circuit. During vacation I like to be active so I was always in the pool or riding waves. Another fun thing we did as a family was rent bikes each night and take rides out through some trails. It's something we can all do together and it's so relaxing.
After we got back, I took a week off and then headed to Brooklyn for the Elite 24. That was definitely a unique experience for me. It was my first time visiting New York City. It was just crazy.
The last night we were there my family went to Times Square. That was something, with all the different types of people and all the stores, big screens and everything else you see there. Definitely a memory I'll have for a long time.
The game itself was fun. Under Armour does a great job and we did a lot of fun stuff off the court. We had a service project, went on a small tour and took a picture in front of the Barclays Center. We didn't get to go to the 9/11 site, but if I'm ever in New York again it's somewhere I want to go.
I've now started my senior year and my countdown to enrolling at UNC. I hope to get to Chapel Hill again some this year and meet up with the guys on the current team, as well as Theo (Pinson) and Joel. We've got a real good relationship now. Before they committed I kind of knew them, but we had a chance to hang out a lot together this summer.
For now, I'm just trying to get stronger and get better at everything. People now ping me as a mid-range shooter, so I'm trying to get better with my 3-point shot.
I'll talk to you all soon. Go Heels! Beat Middle Tennessee!