Brandon Jennings: “This year I have got to be more of a leader because I know what is expected of us.”

June 29, 2010 – 10:55 am by timgunter

The age requirement enacted by the NBA has forced high school players to think about getting an education, at least for one year.  A lot of people have let their frustrations be known about it but I think that it is a good idea.  The quality of play in the NBA has gone down drastically in the last decade or so from the influx of all of the young players so something had to be done.  Every now and then a player comes along that has made the jump or could have made the jump.  Just this past season, the Milwaukee Bucks PG Brandon Jennings took the league by storm after dropping 55 points in a game.  Jennings, who originally signed a scholarship to play at Arizona, decided to skip college and play the ’08-09 season for Lottomatica Roma, an Italian professional basketball team.  After playing a year in Italy, Jennings declared himself for the ’09 NBA Draft and was selected tenth overall by the Bucks, thus making him the first American player to skip college to play in Europe and get drafted by an NBA team.  Although Jennings wasn’t in school, he did learn a lot about himself and the game of basketball.  Playing overseas really helped him mature and I think more players should think about following his footsteps.

Brandon Jennings joined WSSP in Milwaukee to talk about what Luke Ridnour meant to him during his rookie season, what he remembers most about his rookie season, and how much better he thinks he can get defensively.

What Luke Ridnour meant to him during his rookie season:

“Oh man he was great.  He is a veteran point guard so he has been through a lot of things.  He was a great backup of course because he was able to come in and also score for us.  He shot forty-something percent and he shot over eighty-something percent from the free throw line so he was a great backup.”

How instrumental he was in Tiny Gallon being drafted by the Bucks:

“First of all I was just happy that he got picked.  I know that it is kind of hard sitting there through the whole draft because he was there.  So to see your name not get called all over I am sure it was kind of tough for him.  Once he got picked I kind of told him that you need to remember all of the people that got picked above you and you need to go out there and prove that everybody made a mistake.”

What he remembers most about his rookie season:

“It was a long year.  Playing 82 games is tough.  Some nights I just wake up and say that I can’t do it today.  There is just no way that I am going to be able to go out there and play 30-something minutes but you just have to do it.  One thing that I do remember is coming back here down 0-2 for Game 3 here against the Atlanta Hawks and seeing the fans and how much they support us and the atmosphere in the Bradley Center is just crazy.  For games 3 and 4 it was just crazy.  That is something that I will never forget.  That just made me hungrier to come back every year and get to the playoffs.”

What he thinks about the Bucks and their one-year makeover:

“I think it is great.  Hopefully we can sign John Salmons with us, of course, because he was great for us as a team.  When we picked him up at the trade deadline, we were 22-8 with him.  So picking up Maggette is also a big key because he is a guy that can go out there and give them 20 and still get to the free throw line and that is something that we missed last year.  We shot a lot of jump shots and we wouldn’t really get to the free throw line much.  So picking him up and seeing what else we could pick up when it is time for everybody to sign and just see what happens but I like the pickups so far.”

How much better he thinks he can get defensively:

“It is mental and it is just about how bad do you want to stop your defender?  That is the main thing.  This year of course coming up, I have to bring my game to another level.  I can’t be the same person I was last year.  This year I have got to be more of a leader because I know what is expected of us.”

Brandon Jennings on WSSP in Milwaukee with the Big Show

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