Q&A with Rashad Vaughn: 'Lot of kids would like' Richard Pitino's game
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From practice time in the gym to workouts with his trainer, Mark Ellis -- and oh, by the way, regular school life -- tracking down Robbinsdale Cooper High School junior guard Rashad Vaughn isn't easy. But that's what 1500ESPN.com did on Friday night.
Below is the full transcript of our chat with Rashad, and his dad, Troy.
How did your meeting with Richard Pitino go?
It went pretty well. We sat down and talked for a while, and we watched him work his guys out. They were working really hard. It was fun. We talked a lot.
Who was he working out?
The whole team. They were doing a lot of 1-on-1 stuff. It was fun to watch.
But you had the chance to sit and have a healthy back-and-forth with him?
We sat down for about an hour-and-a-half. I asked questions. He told us about himself, how he loves to run (with his offense). I met with the assistant coaches, too, and got to know them.
He runs a system, an up-and-down system that would seem to suit you well.
He said he runs pro-style sets, lots of pick-and-roll. On defense, it's Louisville. I think a lot of kids would like that style of play.
What was your reaction when you heard that the "U" hired Pitino?
I wasn't sure who he was. I had to ask who he was, and then I was told it was Rick Pitino's son. So, then I was like he should be good. I started to get to know him and people told me more about him. I then got more interested.
Forget the phone conversations, you like him even more now after sitting down with him?
I am more impressed. I learned more about his track record -- he was at Florida (International). We watched highlights of how he runs and he runs his team. I am more impressed.
Is it impressive that he's not a ton older than you?
Yeah. He's young. We can probably relate more.
What about his staff?
They're all young. They're all cool guys. Ben (Johnson) was recruiting me in the summer with Nebraska, so I knew him. I'm building a relationship with Kimani (Young). I like them all.
From meetings constantly right now with coaches, how much of a whirlwind is this?
It's a lot on me, but it's bearable. My dad and coach (Pete Kaffey) do a good job of spreading them out.
It just blow you away that these coaches are taking their private jets into town just to see you?
It's fun. I like the recruiting process.
Is it, though? It has to be hard to be a normal student, to have a chance to enjoy prom, etc.
It is tough, but sometimes you need to make sacrifices in order to chase your dream. That's what I do.
You are playing for a Milwaukee team this summer for AAU. Why?
I thought that was the best fit for me.
Did the Howard Pulley Panthers with Tyus Jones and Reid Travis try to get you?
There was a bit of an altercation. My family and I decided that playing for Milwaukee was best.
Do you have to travel to Milwaukee a lot?
Probably every other weekend. Something like that.
Looking forward to the AAU season?
We're in L.A. next weekend. I've been to a few practices. I like the teammates. We should be ready.
Will you play the Pulley team in L.A.?
We play them in Virginia at the Boo Williams event (later this month).
What else stood out about your visit with Pitino?
Just how hard the players were working. He was doing a lot of individual stuff. I'll take some of that and go to the gym, work on some of those drills. Everyone was encouraging each other.
Conditioning is about to get ramped up a ton to play that Pitino style.
In order to play at that pace, you need to be in real condition.
When did you last talk to Rick Pitino, who's also recruiting you?
A couple weeks ago. It'll be interesting to be recruited by a father and a son.
Have you thought about trimming your list?
We will. We just haven't set a time. When I narrow it, it'll be seven or eight schools.
What's most important when deciding on where you'll go?
Style of play, plus the coach and that relationship, and whether they can develop me.
Richard's style of play better for you than ex-coach Tubby Smith's?
I would say so. He just gets up-and-down more.
So, that's the key: playing at a hectic, fast pace?
Just to get up-and-down, show what you can do. Every kid wants to play in a style like that.
Where do you need to get better to reach your ultimate dream: the NBA?
Thinking the game more, just need to be more intelligent. Plus, the defensive end, playing more team defense. Just getting better overall at everything.
Do you talk to Jones and Travis about how the process is going, for advice?
We had a photo shoot together, so we talked. Besides that, we don't talk. Maybe every now-and-then. But not about the process.
Do you like being grouped in with those two?
It doesn't really matter, by myself, or being grouped with them. All three of us work hard.
When will you make a decision? If I ask you next April, will you know?
Yeah. Probably around this time.
Is that different from the past?
We always decided I would do it my senior year around this time.
Who do you lean on for information?
My dad, coach (Pete Kaffey), and my mom.
Troy Vaughn, Rashad's dad
What are your first impressions of Richard Pitino?
It was interesting... It was a good feeling to be there. Just walking into the arena, you could see the intensity. You could smell the sweat. It was a wow feeling. To see that on a Friday with the season just over with, it was a good feeling to see that.
He's a young guy. That good or bad?
In the beginning I was a little worried like anybody else. I'm a little older than he is. You think experience when a new guy comes in. But it's a new time. I think you need youth at the helm now. We're dealing with a new generation.
As a parent, you're along for every step. Are you having fun with this process?
It's like a new car: great, then after a few times, it's business. The more you look at it and realize it's a business, the fun goes away. You have to be serious. He's open to the world now. It took me a while to understand that. As a parent, you have to be on top of at this stage. You have to be.
What's your plan in a couple years if he chooses to go to Chapel Hill, North Carolina or Waco, Texas? Will you go with?
We arm wrestle with that. I'm a father of three -- have a senior at Cooper high school, and I also have a sixth-grader. Minnesota has been good to me. I'm originally from Flint, Michigan, but been here about 16 years now. Been working for Hennepin County for about 15. So, we'll see. As I tell him with everything, let's be in the now. Our real focus is getting my senior situated and getting Rashad taken care of, and also having fun with my sixth-grader. He keeps me on my toes.
Who's the best player in the family?
(Laughs). I say me. They are all competitive. I preach you get out what you put into it -- whether it's backgammon or a game of UNO, just do it hard. With Rashad, it has worked out.
You've met so many coaches. Any story that sticks out?
I'm still in a bubble. Growing up, watching the Pitinos and Caliparis along the way, and now seeing them in their prime, it's interesting. I tell Rashad about John Thompson III (Georgetown coach), and I remember his dad.
Interesting how you have a father-son combination after your son?
That's interesting. It just lets you know how the times are changing. Whatever works. I just like how Minnesota is trying to mix it up, do things differently. ... Just to have that courage, I think is a good thing.
How much say do you have in Rashad's college choice?
My goal is to have him go to school, be respectful, do what your parents ask, help somebody out, be a friend. As far as basketball, I don't shoot free throws. I tell coaches that. At the end of the day, it comes down to Rashad (and the coach). I just hope the coach piggybacks off my and his mom's beliefs and instills those in him.
Take us through the Gophers visit?
Because it's such a hectic time, I was sort of hesitant to go. But since he's new and with the media buildup, I wanted to get down there. I'm glad I had the opportunity. Just to see them going hard, like it was the first day of practice, it was different this time.
You saw some video clips later?
We drove to the office and he (Pitino) gave us his vision. What stood out the most was for a guy not from Minnesota, he knew so much of our history and has a feel for our people. The main thing is he's the bridge to gets Minnesotans to that next level. He said there's a great fanbase, it's a beautiful area, and all that's missing is me. The enthusiasm and how he thinks he can take us to the next level is good.
He impresses you more than Tubby?
I wouldn't say that. ... But it was everything I anticipated going in: he was young, energetic, and he has that heavy East Coast accent. You could just feel that he's here on a mission. He really wants to do things at Minnesota.
What's the biggest difference between him and Tubby?
Age. (Laughs). There's history with Tubby and where he's taken kids in the past. As for Richard, he hasn't coached as long. That piece of it, I'm a little leery. Just the age. But when I saw him, I saw the youth and the mission. He looks like he's ready to fulfill that mission. ... That practice just showed me, and I think Rashad as well.
How do you separate all the peer pressure you're getting for where Rashad should go, and making sure he doesn't feel that?
It came from the beginning. Setting a foundation. We've been on this road since the second grade. ... As long as you get good grades and are respectful, you can do whatever you want, and for Rashad that's basketball. I'm a believer: bloom wherever you're at. Especially for someone who was born and raised here. You have to get the opportunity to go out and see the world. That's just my vision being a world traveler.