Alabama Crimson Tide sophomore point guard and NBA prospect Kira Lewis caught up with HoopsHype to discuss what his role can be as a pro.
The 19-year-old, who was recognized as 1st Team All-SEC last season, will be one of the fastest young players in the NBA once he is drafted into the league. Lewis told us about why he chose basketball over football, his time playing with Team USA and plenty more.
Please note this interview was minorly edited in its transcript for brevity and clarity.
Obviously, it’s been the longest offseason in basketball history. I’m curious about what you’ve been doing to stay busy?
Kira Lewis: To stay busy, I’ve just been pretty much staying in the gym. I’m working on weights. Then, of course, I hang with my family. I’m really just taking it day-by-day. I watch sports. It’s petty much just the same old, same old.
You’ve had a lot of time to improve your game. What are some of the things you’ve gotten better at so far this offseason?
KL: I’d have to say ball handling, finishing, reading different things out of pick and roll. I’m using different kinds of moves going into the lane, trying to hold my defender off. I am trying to tune up a little bit of everything in my game.
One thing that comes to mind when it comes to your game that really makes me excited about you as a prospect is how fast you play. I’d love to hear a little bit about your background with playing fast and how you think that’s going to help you prepare for the next level?
KL: It helps me a lot, just being able to play fast. I like to use different pace and different speed – sometimes going from fast to slow then from slow to fast. Just having that burst, it helps a lot. It really got carried down from my family. My mom ran track, and my dad was fast just from his body type and his family members. It’s really just always been in me.
Tell me a little bit about the way Alabama’s offense helped you in that sense?
KL: The pace we played at was to play as fast as we can. The spacing that we had allowed me to use my speed to the fullest and get in the lane and create for myself and my teammates. I was able to show different ways to come off pick-and-rolls to use my speed and go at a steady pace and use my burst. With all the spacing, it really helped a lot. We had some shooters that the defense really couldn’t help off of so I was able to get in the lane a little bit easier.
Are there any point guards in the NBA you like to watch to mold your game after? De’Aaron Fox obviously comes to mind because of the pace he plays at as well.
KL: I would say De’Aaron Fox, too, but I pretty much watch every guard and take a little bit from each of them. Dennis Schroder is another. I pretty much watch a bit of every guard to see what I can take from their game and add to mine.
You were one of the youngest players coming into college, which means you’re now still younger than some of the freshmen in this class even though you’ve had two years of experience. Can you walk me through the advantages that you had considering your age?
KL: I had that experience of playing against older guys my first year and then coming back next year and being better. I know that will be a big thing going into the NBA – being ready from day one. So being one of the younger guys next year will just show me following up by getting better. It will allow me to get stronger when I’m coming to the next stage of my career. It also gives me time and experience with the game of basketball and learning new things each season.
What have been some of your proudest accomplishments so far from a basketball perspective?
KL: Team USA, for sure. That’s not something a lot of people get to do in their lives. Also, I’d have to say, I’m proud to get to this next level. Not everybody gets a chance to do that. Honestly, getting to this next level will be one of my proudest accomplishments, too.
I can hear in your voice that you’re definitely really excited about this transition to become an NBA player. I imagine it’s just been on your radar for a long time. And now that it’s finally coming here, I’d love to hear it here in your own words.
KL: It’s surreal. Sometimes I think about it and it feels like just a little bit ago that I was still in high school. Time went by fast and now I’m going to a different level, playing against people that I’ve watched my whole life. I don’t know how to describe it. I guess I would have to say it’s surreal that in just a couple of months, I will be playing against people I’ve always watched and idolized in the game of basketball.
What are some things that you think that you’d be able to do for a playoff team next season? When you watch the playoffs, how do you think you would fit in?
KL: I am able to play on the ball and play off the ball. Off the ball, I use my shooting to have spacing on the court. Guys really won’t be able to help off me. But I’m able to move well without the ball. When I’m on the ball, I use my speed to get to the rim and create a lot of opportunities for the offense. Then on the defensive end, I use my speed and my anticipation skills to cut people off. I really just want to come in competing, wanting to win.
I was surprised to learn you shot better when there was a guy defending you than when you were left open. Why do you think that might be?
KL: When I was younger, I always had the ball in my hands because I was one of the better players. I’ve always had to work on shots where I had a defender in my face. I had to shoot the ball and be more locked in than when I was off the ball, catching open shots. That comes from when I was just a younger age, working on it all the time. But as time goes on, I know I’ll just get more comfortable with it every year.
Considering that you are originally from Alabama, how did you choose basketball over football?
KL: I did play football, too. When I played I was a wide receiver. When I decided I wanted to hang it up, they asked me if I was sure and I was pretty sure about it. I chose basketball because I was naturally good at it. I had a family member that made it in football. I wanted to be the first one to make it in basketball. So that was the main thing that drove me to basketball.
What are some of the things you like to do when you’re not playing basketball?
KL: I like to watch other sports. Sometimes I play a game every now and then. I really like to hang out with family and friends. But I really just sit back and have a good time. I listen to music. Some of my favorite musicians are Drake and Kendrick Lamar.
When you’re talking to these NBA teams, what are some things that you tell them about yourself either as a basketball player or as a person?
KL: Off the court, I just tell them how I am as a person. I’m a really laid back guy. On the court, I have to say, I’m just a competitor. I want to win and be the best man I can be for whatever organization chooses me. Like I said, I just really want to be an overall good person on the court and off the court.
During these NBA interviews that you’re having, what are some of the questions that you’ve had asked that you felt have been like the most interesting or the most surprising?
KL: They asked me if I was at a stoplight, and the light had just turned yellow, would I go past the light or would I stop? I was thinking in my head, what does that have to do with basketball or life in general? That was probably the question I didn’t think they would ask me about. But I said if the light just turned yellow, I probably would have passed through it. If I’m a ways back, I probably would stop at the red light.
What have been some of the biggest surprises about the pre-draft process so far for you?
KL: Even though it’s virtual, you can still communicate with the team and how they’re doing the draft process, watching game film with them. I’ve gotten to know some of the people on the teams. There are some people who actually played in the league who are in the front offices now. You build a relationship with them. I would have to say that was probably the unique thing about this. The coolest thing is getting to really just sit back and learn from them. They might show you a thing or two that might help you with your game.
How would your friends and family describe you if I asked them about you?
KL: I’m a really laid back guy. I really don’t do much. I’m a cool and goofy person once you get to know me. I like to laugh and smile and have a good time. I’m really laid back and like to laugh and giggle a lot when I’m not on the court. When I’m on the court, there would say I’m competitive.
Are there any goals for yourself off the court or on the court that you have for yourself?
KL: Off the court, I want to just respect everybody and treat everybody how you want to be treated and be the best person you can be. On the court, I just want to be the best person I can be. I don’t want to be looking to be as good as somebody else. I want to be the best person I can be.