EXCLUSIVE: Wade Baldwin IV gets candid, talks Vanderbilt and Grizzlies

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EXCLUSIVE: Wade Baldwin IV gets candid, talks Vanderbilt and Grizzlies

Wade Baldwin

Wade Baldwin

Wade Baldwin

Wade Baldwin

Robbie Weinstein, Sports Editor

After a successful two years at Vanderbilt, Wade Baldwin IV entered the NBA Draft, going in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies. Baldwin spent some time recently in Las Vegas playing with his new team in the NBA Summer League.

Baldwin spoke exclusively with The Vanderbilt Hustler in Memorial Gymnasium just prior to the football game.

Vanderbilt Hustler: Last season was successful for you. For the team, I guess it depends on your perspective. What’d you think of last season?

Wade Baldwin IV: It was a mixture of a lot of things. A lot of leadership issues; that’s probably on my end. Coaching, you know, there was trouble with that. And the obvious reasons, through statistics and stuff like that was probably key to why we lost some games.

VH: So for the leadership stuff, I assume that in these interviews with NBA teams they asked about that. Clearly you must have had some decent responses because you got picked almost in the lottery; how’d you respond to that?

WB: It’s just being honest. You’re the leader of the team, you’re the point guard of the team, you have to take full responsibility for all the things that happened. So by doing that, that’s kind of what I expressed to them. That maturity, that leadership I showed just in the interview room made it respectable to pick me 17th.

VH: Did you get any really weird questions from teams?

WB: I got hit with a couple of riddles, and then I went to the Spurs one and they asked me, like, “You’re not playing over Tony Parker, you’re not playing over Patty Mills, you’ll be in our D-League,” as soon as I walked in. Nothing else but that, but that was kind of weird for me.

VH: What was the average day at Summer League like for you?

WB: It was weight all day, because I was 20 in Vegas, so I couldn’t really do too much. And just playing the games, so that was really it. We had like five days of practice beforehand, and just played and competed.

VH: What’d you think you got out of that experience in terms of the actual games?

WB: Getting adjusted to the NBA vibe. And then all our coaching staff coached there, so that was big, getting to work with them early in the summer. Some guys have to wait until training camp starts to really get involved with them, so I got an early taste of it.

VH: Coaches in the NBA have more of a reputation of being players’ coaches. How do you think NBA coaching compares in that way in terms of how laid back they are, how they approach stuff, compared to college coaches, especially since [former Vandy head coach Kevin] Stallings is considered to be very “college” on the coaching spectrum.

WB: Yeah, Stallings, wasn’t very player-oriented. So with Coach Fizdale, all 15 guys on the roster are the most important to him. All the time [he’s] talking with us, taking us out to dinner, stuff like that is what went down with him. So it’s a big adjustment; really it’s harder to get a camaraderie with guys together when they’re making so much money, their own lives, their own families. It’s different than a college vibe, so it’s hard to compare the two.

VH: Have you noticed specifically that you can tell this is a veteran team and they know what they’re doing?

WB: I mean we got Mike Conley, Tony Allen walking through the locker room. You got Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol who just joined us a couple of days ago. These guys are old, they have families. [Gasol] was telling me about his two kids, his wife and all that stuff. So it’s just an adjustment from walking down sorority row to guys who have families and stuff like that. It’s a whole different thing, so you gotta adjust.

VH: What about playing at Vanderbilt or going to school here do you think allowed [your jump to the NBA] to happen?

WB: I was definitely under the radar, but fairly assessed, out of high school. I wasn’t that highly touted of a high school player. I just continued to work, especially in the offseason. We went home in May; I wouldn’t even go home to New Jersey, I’d go to Houston or some other places that I paid for to go to and work with John Lucas and different guys. That just kind of excelled my game and put me in places where I could be successful.

VH: How cool is it to be playing with these people that you’ve been watching on TV, maybe modeled your play after, like Mike Conley and Zach Randolph?

WB: I think the coolest one for me is Vince Carter. So when you see on Twitter his dunks and stuff like that, you’re just like, “man it’s that guy.” But it’s not like you’re in awe, because when you do that you leave yourself vulnerable. And as a rookie, you gotta go in there with as much confidence as possible and feel like you’re part of that fraternity.

VH: What kind of expectations have you put on yourself playing behind Mike Conley?

WB: I just want to contribute as much as I can. They’re a playoff team before me, and I’m gonna continue to get to the playoffs and be whatever I can be on the team. If somebody gets hurt and gets out, I’d like to step up. If somebody needs me coming off the bench to give them a spark, that’s what I need to do.

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