DeJuan Blair: I'm just finishing up the semester, getting stuff done with school, then you know, getting ready for the journey, as I like to call it.
Jonathan Givony: So, it seems like your coaching staff made a pretty big push to keep you at Pitt, and I guess they may have come away a little disappointed. Has there been any lingering effects of that?
DeJuan Blair: Yeah but, I would have done the same thing. Not to be big-headed, but who I am, and what I am to the team, but you know I had to make a decision and I think I made the right one. So, you know, its good for me and my family and everything, and it made them (Pitt) look good also, getting an NBA prospect out there, so, it's going to be fun.
Jonathan Givony: Now that you're 100 percent in the draft, what are you focusing on most in terms of preparing yourself for the private workouts?
DeJuan Blair: I'm focusing on my quickness and my agility and my jump shot. That's about it, these things, all my weaknesses, try to power my power, my finesse skills also. So I'm working on a lot of stuff, its going to be a good May for me.
Jonathan Givony: So you're going to be doing some private workouts here after the early entry deadline comes out, is there any particular player you're looking forward to competing against? Someone you saw on TV? Someone from the Big East? Something like that?
DeJuan Blair: Nah, I'll take whoever's in my way and show what I can do against them. It's going to be like a game, I'm going to be out for everyone, just like everyone is going to be out for me. So I'm going to have fun at the same time, as me doing business, so I'm getting to meet a lot of people, you know, just having a nice little bang with everybody that I've been seeing. It's going to be fun, I can't wait for it to happen.
Jonathan Givony: What have people told you about the draft process? Any players you've talked to or any guys that have been through it already that are helping you prepare for it?
DeJuan Blair: I actually talked to Amare Stoudemire a little bit, but I haven't talked to him a lot about the draft process. I'm just going to take it one step at a time hopefully it'll come out to my advantage, to the best of my ability. Just like I said, I just want to have fun on the journey, its going to be fun, you know. It's going to be a long one, a tough one, but at the same time you still gotta have fun and enjoy the program. A lot of people from my city haven't been exposed to what's about to go down for me, and that's a blessing off top, but with me working out, and me losing weight and things like that, it's going to be all right man. I just wanna have fun.
Jonathan Givony: Not only were you the best offensive rebounder in college basketball this year, but according to an article I saw by Luke Winn, you were the best offensive rebounder in the last eight or nine years of college basketball. Can you take us through the nuances of what makes a great offensive rebounder from a technical standpoint?
DeJuan Blair: Like I tell everyone who asks me that, you've just got to go get the ball. You can't just let the ball come to you, cause if you let the ball come to you, then it's a chance that both of y'all can get it. If you outwork the next guy, and jump, and reach for the ball, it's going to be an 80% chance that you can get the ball. If you go get the ball, I don't know if you watched any of the games, I like to tap the ball to myself, or tap em off the glass, and get a lot of them. The big key of it is to go get it, don't let it come to you. That's what I do. I try to move everybody out of the way and go get it.
Jonathan Givony: As the shot is going up in the air, let's say Levance Fields is shooting a three, are you looking at the trajectory of the ball, or trying to, kind of predict the angle it's going to come off?
DeJuan Blair: Yeah yeah yeah. You gotta go take the angle. First of all your rebounding IQ has got to be pretty good just to go get the ball, you gotta go get it, and you gotta know where its going to come off at, and just go get it and chase it down. It takes a lot of hustle, its going to take a lot out of you, but at the end of the day that's going to be big. That's what I try to do, I try to have fun, try to go down there and just get it. Sometimes it bounces to me, sometimes it bounces away from me. Its fun, its fun rebounding.
Jonathan Givony: How do you feel about how your rebounding can translate to the NBA level, where everybody is bigger, they're stronger, they're longer, they're quicker, they can jump higher, what are your thoughts on that?
DeJuan Blair: That's just a bigger challenge you've got to step up to. There's gonna be a lot of big people, a lot of big guys, so I'm just gonna try to keep doing what I was doing. Nobody is gonna stop me from getting the ball, and if they do. I'm going to try harder to go get it. So hopefully I can keep it up in the NBA.
Jonathan Givony: Something that's unique about you is that not only do you get a lot of rebounds, but you also get a ridiculous amount of steals, for a big guy. We know that guards are able to pick people's pocket and stuff like that, but how does a big guy actually go about getting so many steals?
DeJuan Blair: First of all, you've got to have the long arms I have. Then you've got to try to be quicker than the next person. If you've got a big slow guy on you, you know I'm kind of quick for my weight, for my body, and I know that fools a lot of people, but I like to kind of go around people and just go get it. I know I keep saying go get it, but that's the objective of all of basketball if you shoot the ball, go get it. That's my mindset- go get it. That's how I do it.
Jonathan Givony: It sounds to me like go get it' is something like an instinct, it's a knack, its something that you're born with, right?
DeJuan Blair: Yeah yeah, it's something that you're born with. If you ain't got that go get it mindset, then you aren't going to be a leader, for the past two years in offensive rebounding.
Jonathan Givony: Where do you think that your go get it came from?
DeJuan Blair: You could say where I'm from, I guess. Where I'm from kind of has that mindset. That's just sort of how I got it, playing against bigger guys when I was younger, it makes me who I am today. I appreciate where I came from because it kind of gave me that animal mindset, not backing down from anybody, go at everybody, step up to the challenge mindset, so where I came from is pretty big for me.
Jonathan Givony: One thing that we like to do when we're evaluating NBA prospects is to look at where they were ranked in high schoolsee what the expectations were from them going in to college. That sometimes tells you a little bit about a guy. I was surprised to see that you weren't the most highly ranked guy in college- you weren't an under the radar guy, but you weren't the most highly touted either. I saw guys like Jai Lucas, Taylor King, Jamelle Horne, that were ranked ahead of you by some services. What can you tell us about the type of player you were in high school, compared to what you are now?
DeJuan Blair: In high school I tore both my ACL's, which was a pretty major setback, but as far as all that went, first of all I didn't have the city on my back in high school. When I went to Pitt I had the city on my back, I'm from Pitt, so that was kind of big. Generally, I was a little chubby, I was a little fat, I had two knee surgeries, and everything just kind of came together for me when I got to Pitt, which was cool.
Jonathan Givony: One of the comparisons that people make a lot about you is Paul Millsap. For you is that flattering? Or is it far fetched? What do you think when people to compare you to other players?
DeJuan Blair: Everybody has their opinion on players I play like, but I'm just playing like me, I'm just being me. At the end of the day, I'm going to play like DeJuan Blair, I'm not gonna play like nobody else. These are some excellent things to hear, coming from Millsap, and Elton Brand, and all that. I want people to say ten years from now, that a guy reminds them of DeJuan Blair, and that's a pretty good accolade I want to have.
Jonathan Givony: I think the importance of that is, when we first started doing this in 2003, there was kind of a sense that if you're a 6'7, 6'8 power forward, you've got no chance, forget about it. That was the consensus, and we fell into that too. But in the past few years there have been some players who showed us that you can't rule out the 6'7, the 6'8 guys. Paul Millsap is one of those, Carl Landry, Brandon Bass, Chuck Hayes, Udonis Haslem, I mean the list goes on and on. Do you look at those guys as inspiration, do you feel like their success is helping you right now?
DeJuan Blair: Yeah, that's inspiration for me to be compared to them, because they obviously weren't picked #1, or #5. They're great players, and they worked to get where they want to be. That's what I plan on doing, I'm gonna work on, not just getting picked off what I can do. The rebounding and everything, that's nothing right now, if I can't do that in the NBA then, I mean it's going to be fun to get there, and show everyone what I can do instead of people saying what I can do.
Jonathan Givony: Talking to some scouts about your game, a lot of people say that you play below the rim. That was in college, but at the same time, you did score over a point every two minutes you played, on 60% shooting. Do you feel like you're going to be able to score in the NBA at a pretty good rate?
DeJuan Blair: Yeah, that's what I'm working on. I'm working on my finishing above the rim, and it'll be cool, I've just got to lose a little bit of weight and get some muscles in my legs, and it'll be all right. I've just got to work, I won't let a day go past where I don't work on my weaknesses. I'm gonna try to get them to where I want them to be, and to where everybody else wants them to be, and hopefully that'll turn some heads.
Jonathan Givony: What about your jumpshot? That's something we didn't really get to see a lot of in the past two years, do you think that's going to be something that'll become a part of your game in the future?
DeJuan Blair: Yeah that's another thing. Dribbling and my jumpshot, I'm trying to polish all of that. I'm actually working on it right now, and I'm going to be all right around the draft and around the workouts. I just have to keep working at it, and it'll be where I want it to be.
Jonathan Givony: A big part of these workouts is drills where you have to shoot 50 jumpers, 100 jumpers, 150 jumpers. How do you think you're going to look in these drills?
DeJuan Blair: Like I said, I'm working on that right now. I'm shooting 300, 400, 500 jumpers a night, that's just my night. Fatigue isn't an option in my category, I'm going to lose the weight, get in shape, get into the best shape I can, and the sky is the limit for me if I get to where I say I'm going to get around draft time.
Jonathan Givony: I saw an article the other day where they quoted Rod Thorn, who is the president of the New Jersey Nets. He was saying, in his words, Get me a moose. Get me someone who can defend, who can rebound, who can set screens, who can do all the dirty work. To me that sounds like a description of you, would you describe yourself as a moose?
DeJuan Blair: That's a pretty funny combination, I've been compared to Millsap, but I've never been compared to a moose. I'll take it.
Jonathan Givony: If it'll get you drafted 11th you'll take it right?
DeJuan Blair: Oh heck yeah, a moose. That's some funny stuff.
Jonathan Givony: Let's talk about off the court. On the court we can see that you're a pretty physical, nasty dude, but off the court it seems like you're always smiling, and we only hear good things about your attitude. What do you think you bring to the table in terms of off the court personality in terms of teams looking at you?
DeJuan Blair: That's just how I am, I like to meet new people, I like to have fun around people. I'm a really respectful guy, my mom and my dad taught me manners, and I'm really respectful and really fun to be around. I'm a giving person, and hopefully a lot of people see that in me, but I'm just having fun. All that stuff about me, I just like to have fun, and you know, stay to myself. I'm a quiet type of guy, but if I get to know you, we could be the best of friends. I'm a polite gentle giant, a lot of people call me a gentle giant, I've got a lot of people calling me that, and that's a nice name for me also.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think your weight is going to be an issue in the NBA over the next few years?
DeJuan Blair: No it's not. I'm losing all that, I mean that's what I'm working on now. I'm going to Tampa in the next couple weeks to start on that, and I'm going to be real good by May in Chicago. I'm going to be good.
Jonathan Givony: Where are you at right now, if you don't mind me asking?
DeJuan Blair: I'm like at 273 or something like that, I wanna get down to about 260, 265. That ain't nothing. I just have to keep it up.
Jonathan Givony: The reason I ask is, when I talk to teams, that's often the first thing that comes.
DeJuan Blair: Weight?
Jonathan Givony Absolutely. Because a lot of guys in their 19s or 20s, their body is a lot different than when they are 25 or 26. So what would you tell them to ease their mind when that comes up in the conversations you're going to have in private workouts? I'm sure they're going to ask you about that.
DeJuan Blair: I would tell them, don't worry about it, I'm going to lose it, I'm working hard, but I don't wanna lose too much weight, or I won't be the person that I am. I'm just going to try to tone it up, I'm going to tone it up. It's really not a concern for me because I know I'm going to lose the weight, I'm gonna work, I've got a personal trainer that's going to help me get the way I want to go.
Jonathan Givony: A couple weeks ago, when you declared for the draft and were asked to explain why you're not just testing the waters, you said something along the lines of, I'm an internet freak, I go on all the draft boards, nobody's got me going in the second round, that's almost a guarantee for me. Were you being serious with that comment?
DeJuan Blair: No, that was just, there was a little hostility coming from the crowd, there was a lot of tears watering up. If you were there, everybody laughed, so it was kind of a little joke. I actually don't go on the internet. I was told that question was going to come up, I shouldn't have said it, but I was just trying to liven up the room a little bit.
Jonathan Givony: What's the best thing that you learned in your two years playing for Jamie Dixon?
DeJuan Blair: To be coachable. To be coachable and listen. If you call him and ask him, you know, and to be respectful also. He taught me a lot of stuff on the court about adapting to college, being respectful and coachable, because NBA coaches will be on you, just like he do, you just gotta learn to deal with it like you deal with everybody. He taught me a lot.
Jonathan Givony: What kind of NBA player is Sam Young is going to be?
DeJuan Blair: I don't know, he's going to be a tricky NBA player. You don't know until Sam starts playing, you never know. He's a workaholic, but you never know what type of a player he's going to be, probably an excellent player, but you don't know.
Jonathan Givony: On one hand the NBA is a much more physical game, they let a lot more stuff go, but on the other hand, you seem to have some problems sometimes hedging screens on the pick and roll and stuff like that. What kind of defensive player do you think you're going to be in the NBA?
DeJuan Blair: I really don't know. It depends on what team I go to, what type of defense they want me to play. I'm going to be a good defender. I just want to be able to switch those screens instead of hedging them. That's why I'm trying to get my quickness up, working on defensive drills also, so, it's going to be interesting.
Jonathan Givony: Where do you plan on preparing for the draft?
DeJuan Blair: I plan on preparing for the draft in Tampa, Florida, at IMG.
Jonathan Givony: How would other students on Pitt's campus describe you?
DeJuan Blair: They would describe me as a fun guy. Like I said, I'm a lovable guy. I like to have fun, I talk to everybody, even if you're sitting over there, acting like you don't want to talk, I'll ask you what's wrong. I'm a good dude. You hear that a lot from a lot of players, but you know me, I can back it up. I'm a really cool dude, I'm a really cool person if you get to know me.
Jonathan Givony: Good stuff. That's pretty much it from our end. Thank you so much for your time.
DeJuan Blair: Thank you, man.