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Q & A with Rashad Vaughn: 'The Gophers got a Good Chance'

Created: 08/10/2013 4:16 PM KSTP.com
By: Darren Wolfson

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, except in the case of local high school basketball star Rashad Vaughn.

Days before he leaves for Findlay Prep School in Las Vegas for his senior year and two days after an unofficial visit with the Gophers, 1500ESPN.com caught up Vaughn.

He recently cut his college list to 11 schools: Arizona, Baylor, Georgetown, Iowa State, Kentucky, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, UCLA, UCONN and UNLV.

We joined Vaughn for a workout focusing on speed and agility at Lifetime Fitness in St. Louis Park.

How beneficial are these workouts?

They benefit me a lot. My trainer does a great job pushing me. I'm getting stronger everyday. We work on flexibility and getting faster. It benefits me a lot for when I go to Findlay Prep.

Are you seeing noticeable results?

Just after a month (of working with trainer Nick at Lifetime) I started doing dunks I've never seen. I'm bullying people on the court. I've been getting bigger and stronger and I'm jumping higher. Better conditioning too.

Do you know exactly how much stronger you are?

I know when I started I weighed 195 pounds. Now I weigh close to 208.

What's your ideal weight?

I think 220. Maybe 215.

You still have another 10 pounds to add?

Yeah.

You like having the ball in your hands. That's not point guard size.

I know. I'll say 215 is a good size.

How crazy has this summer been?

This summer has been the best of them all. I've been winning a lot of awards and going to good camps. This summer has been a lot of good matchups. I've been in a lot of 1-on-1 battles. I haven't been home a lot.

What has this summer done for your confidence?

It has skyrocketed a lot. A lot of kids ranked above me I've done well against, so I have a lot of confidence.

How did you decide on Findlay Prep for this senior year?

I knew I wanted to go to a prep school. My family and I decided that would be best. I had a lot of schools in mind. We sat down and talked about everything. We decided that Findlay was the best.

Why prep school to begin with?

Just better competition. National schedule. I want to get out of my comfort zone. That's the only way you can get better.

You have the 2015 NBA draft in mind? Everything you're doing -- prep school, etc. -- have June 2015 as the goal?

Yeah. That's why I do a lot of this. That's my dream to get to the league. If I can be one-and-done, that's what I'll do. That's on my mind.

Where are you academically? The prep school decision made with grades in mind too?

My grades are good. My parents love me playing basketball, but grades always come first. My grades are good.

ACT score is ok?

Yeah. I took it once. It was the day of our game against Minnetonka at the Breakdown, so I had a lot on my mind. But I got a good score. I'll take it again when I get to Vegas.

But it's a qualifying score if it needs to stick?

I'm good.

What position are you at the next level?

I can play the 1-3 (point guard, shooting guard, small forward).

Can you focus on three? The NBA, if that's the goal in two years, has very specific positions.

I'm going to focus on the 1 and the 2.

Will you be on the ball on Vegas?

I think I'll bring the ball up a lot. We also have a good point guard, so I'll be switching off.

You finally cut that college list.

Yes. It's a big list. But what nobody knows is that 30-something schools were recruiting me hard, so cutting it to 11 is for those who are really, really recruiting me hard.

Will you cut it again soon?

Yeah.

It's time to start taking official visits.

In the next couple days I'll sit down with my parents and figure out where I'll take my official visits. The decision will come fast. The season will fly by.

When will you ultimately make your decision?

Probably late signing period. But if it feels right sooner, I'll make the decision.

I saw you cut dad Pitino and Louisville.

Yeah. I decided if I play for a Pitino, it'd be for Minnesota. I've built a good relationship with him and the whole staff.

They text and call a lot?

Yeah. I talk with coach Pitino a lot. Coach Kimani (Young) too.

Just mainly those two?

Yeah.

When was the last time you talked to Richard?

Two days ago (Tuesday). He told me about the "U" and how he's going to change it and the facilities.

They don't have the facilities others do. What was he saying?

He said he's trying to do what he can do for the facilities. I'm excited to see what he can do. I think he'll change the program around.

Will that be one of your visits, or do you already know a ton about Minnesota?

I can go to Minnesota anytime, so I won't take an official to Minnesota.

Same for UNLV then since you'll be in Vegas?

Yeah. I can just go over there and visit (whenever).

So, we looking at Iowa State, North Carolina, etc for visits?

Probably not Iowa State either (he took an unofficial visit there last season). I don't know for sure. I need to talk to my parents.

When did UCLA enter your mix?

I was at the Pangos All-American camp and a UCLA recruiter came up to me. They recruited me as a freshman, but then we lost connection. The next hour the coach called me and I took a visit (unofficial). We've been building a relationship ever since.

Can we still talk about the Big 3, or no because you're leaving for Vegas? I suppose it can be the Big 3 with JP Macura (Lakeville North) taking your spot.

He's probably taking my spot.

You talk recently with Tyus Jones or Reid Travis about a package deal?

We never really talked about playing together. When we're together we just talk. But not about playing together. Nothing like that.

You keep in touch with those guys? Watch Reid Travis play on ESPN U on Monday in the Adidas Nationals?

I saw him play. I talk to Reid when I see him. I talk to Tyus every now-and-then. That's about it.

What about JP?

We're cool. I talk to him every now-and-then too.

I can't remember the last time Minnesota offered four players from the same class (Jones, Travis, Vaughn, Macura).

We have a great class. There are great players that people don't even talk about. Our class is crazy. I think it's better than Rodney (Williams) and Royce (White) and Trent's (Lockett) class.

Where do you need to get better?

Most important is stamina and being more efficient. I know going to Vegas they will help me with that. I'll become smarter. Just perfecting everything.

Have you really worked to perfect your jump shot?

I think so. Also have worked on getting my teammates involved and make my teammates better. I can score at all three levels. I can't say I'm just a two since I can play multiple positions.

Are you a tag-team with anyone? I see point guard Josh Perkins says he's with you.

We just talked about one weekend. I like how he plays. He makes amazing passes. It's not that serious.

Not serious with anyone?

I'm doing my own thing.

UNLV: the former Findlay coach, Todd Simon, is now an assistant there.

Yeah. I've had a relationship with him. Now I've been talking with coach (Dave) Rice a lot. He's been talking with my family. UNLV is on the list.

What will life be like in Vegas?

They have two big houses that the team stays in.

Will it be weird to be away from mom and dad?

Yeah. We have chores. I've never really had chores.

What kind of chores?

Dishes. Geez, I don't know.

You ready for that?

I'm ready for it. It'll be a great experience.

Was it hard telling Robbinsdale Cooper you had to leave?

It was hard because I have a good relationship with a lot of people there. They've helped me with a lot of stuff. It was hard. A lot understand.

Have you been able to reflect on this summer?

Last couple days I've done that. But really I've just been hanging out with my family -- cousins, aunties. We had a going-away party, so my whole family was there. I've really just been working out and hanging with the family.

When do you officially leave?

Couple weeks (August 21). I have to go to New York first for the Boost Mobile game (Elite 24 game, which is August 24 on ESPN U). Then I'm going to Vegas.

You look noticeably stronger?

I'm a lot stronger from all the lifting the last few months with Nick (trainer).

How much stronger are you?

I'm not benching. He has me doing other stuff. I do know (on the court) I'm not being pushed around. I can bang in the post. I'm getting a lot stronger.

Tubby Smith still recruiting you at Texas Tech?

He tried to call me a couple times.

Would Minnesota have a chance if Tubby were still here?

I like the new energy. I don't want to say anything like that. I like coach Pitino. The Gophers got a good chance.


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