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Interview With Tulsa 66ers First Round Pick Dominique Sutton - Nov 21, 2012

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Dominique Sutton has lived an interesting life, to say the least. His standout AAU days led him to Kansas State, where he played with Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, to a transfer back home to Durham to small MEAC school NC Central, where he sacrificed big time basketball for his family. The 65 shooting guard averaged over 16 points and seven rebounds per game in his senior season and was able to get some predraft workouts for different NBA teams.

After being undrafted in the June NBA portion of the draft, Sutton was recently taken 6th overall by the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, whose regular season tips off this Friday, with the chance to get the call up to the NBA and play for its parent club, the Oklahoma City Thunder. In this space, I ask Sutton about his unique and interesting journey into professional basketball.

SprungOnSports- It may not be the NBA just yet, but give me your thoughts on playing for Tulsa in the D-League.

Dominique Sutton- I think its a good thing. People are dissing the D-League, but its an opportunity to go where Ill get the attention to fundamentals to work on different concepts. Its not about my jump shot, its about building confidence. I used to get down when I missed one or two shots. Im looking forward to getting more reps.

SOS- How did it feel to get picked so high up in the draft, and what happened when you got the call?

DS- It definitely surprised me. I was just excited to even get drafted. Im not totally sure how the process worked, but Im excited to play some basketball. Brandon Barnett (the Thunders director of minor league operations) called me while I was following the draft online. I was hearing from a lot of different teams, but Tulsa wasnt one of them.

I worked out for OKC a couple of weeks before the NBA draft, but then got injured in a workout with the Nets as part of six workouts in 10 days before the draft. The Thunder back in June said they had liked me a lot and said theyd like me in the D-League. They kept everything on the down low and didnt really say anything until they took me.

They definitely see something in me so I can improve on some things. This is one of the NBA teams Id want to play for out of all of them because of their facilities and how they carry themselves the right way, though Id love any opportunity to play in the NBA. Its definitely a blessing to have a chance to play in the U.S., where youre from.

SOS- What was it like playing with Michael Beasley at Kansas State, when he was one of the hottest players in the country and ultimately the second overall pick?

DS- Me and Mike go way back to when we were teammates on the DC Assault in AAU [Sutton was also an AAU teammate of Austin Freeman and Nolan Smith]. He was one of the reasons why I went with K-State over other schools. It was me, Mike and Bill Walker. We had a full starting lineup of freshmen and we were one of the first teams to start the trend before John Calipari and Kentucky. We made history as freshmen by beating Kansas (at home in 2008 for the first time in 24 years) and it was a great experience.

SOS- What was it like playing for Frank Martin, one of the bigger personalities in college hoops?

DS- Hes a cool guy. Very family oriented off the court but once you step on the hardwood, his whole demeanor changes. People always see him yelling and screaming, but the majority of the time we needed it. Wed go out and do some crazy things and he was a calm, cool and collected guy. But always very competitive.

SOS- Why did you end up transferring back home to NC Central?

DS- I left Kansas State for family reasons. My daughter has asthma and other health difficulties and I really just wanted to be able to see her and get closer to home. She was the main reason. [The NCAA did not clear Sutton for a family hardship and he had to sit out a year.] They thought I left just because.

SOS- And how was transitioning from major college basketball to one of the smallest Division I leagues?

DS- It was definitely a culture change from a BCS school to an HBCU like NC Central. It was a drop in the level of basketball, but it was still the same breed. Every team puts on their jerseys the same way. People were struck by playing Duke, NC State or Indiana, but they lace the shoes up the same way. But it was still definitely different. Having played in the NCAA Tournament before, I took on more of a leadership role in my senior year.

SOS- After you finished your college career, did you know what you were going to do and what was next?

DS- I honestly didnt know. I was just looking to play pro ball and getting paid to do something I love. Once you see a couple of NBA scouts at practices and you go to workouts, getting to the NBA is always in the back of your mind. Getting drafted was a huge step for me. Nothing was really ever given to me and I always stayed with it. Ive always been an under-the-radar guy and I have to take advantage of every opportunity given to me.

SOS- How would you describe your game and how do you think youre going to fit in with the 66ers?

DS- The style of my game is as a scrappy player and a hard worker. I can score without the ball and I get after it at each and every possession.

SOS- Tell me why you think you have a future in the NBA.

DS- I think I do a majority of the things that most people looking to make the league wont do. I can guard the one through the four, and Im a very scrappy player. I do the work no one even thinks about doing. I can make things happen without having the ball and hopefully I get a professional opportunity.

Dominique Sutton (6'5''-F-86, college: N.C.Central)   

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