Seton Hall prospect Myles Powell, a consensus first-team All-American and the Big East Player of the Year in 2020, takes a break from his draft preparation for some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: You visited your brother Noel last Friday night, five days before Wednesday night’s NBA draft.
A: Yes I got to visit him last Friday for the first time in 11 months.
Q: What was that like?
A: Just very emotional. It was good to see him. I didn’t really know with the pandemic and everything going on, the jail was shut down and we didn’t really know when I was gonna be able to see him again. But coming into the draft, just knowing that I was able to see my brother, be able to look him in his face that I got that degree (from Seton Hall) for him, that’s one of the reasons why I went back to school was because he told me to. Last Friday took a lot of weight off my shoulders.
Q: When I asked you back in March where your passion comes from, you told me:
A: Me just coming from Trenton. I never forgot how I got here. I’m 6-2, I’m not that tall, I’m not the most athletic, but I just know that if you work hard, you put the work in, it’s gonna pay off. My brother’s locked up right now (Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold for a 2017 murder), my family’s going through a hard time, and I just know that I’m the happiness in my family. So I just gotta try to keep that in mind when I step on the court, that it’s bigger than me.
Q: What did he tell you on Friday?
A: Just to keep being myself. An organization’s gonna pick me for me, that everything’s in God’s hands. Like I said, just keep being yourself, everything will take care of itself.
Q: Will he be able to watch the draft?
A: Hopefully … I know it’s gonna be on ESPN, sometimes they get to watch ESPN. Depending on how early I go or how late the draft runs, he might be able to see some of it.
Q: How proud is he of you?
A: He tells me all the time that he’s very proud of me. Like I said, that means a lot to me. My brother’s in solitary doing 23 hours and one hour out, so all the information that he gets, I want it to be good information. I know he’s living his life through me right now and I carry that on my shoulders, so it helps me be a better person, a better man and … I’m doing it for us, so …
Q: What did you tell him when you left?
A: That I’m gonna keep doing everything I’m doing for him, I’m gonna keep making him proud and the family proud, and he has nothing to worry about it, that there’s better days ahead, and that I love him.
Q: When I asked you in March what drives you, this is what you told me:
A: My brother was very, very close to me, he’s seven years older (30) than me, he’s been locked up three years now since my sophomore year. And really in my sophomore year, that’s when I really dedicated myself to this game that I was gonna take it to the next level. It’s bigger than me just having a couple of bad days, or me not making shots, missing shots.
Q: What would you tell a general manager about why he should draft Myles Powell?
A: Because I feel like they know what they’re getting. Each year at Seton Hall, I feel like I’ve gotten better. They’re getting a competitor, someone that’s gonna make their team better, a winner. I’m 23 years old, I’m older than the one-and-dones that’s coming in that haven’t really chased adversity and been through the things that I’ve been through in college basketball that helped me become the man I am today. So I feel like pretty much, you know what I’m bringing to the table.
Q: How would you handle not being drafted?
A: It’s definitely been a conversation of me not being drafted, but that’s not gonna define me. I’ve been an underdog my whole life, since high school. I’m just gonna use that as motivation. When December 1 comes, we’re all back in the same boat. From the 60th pick to the first pick to the other kids that don’t get drafted, we’re all in the same boat. They’re probably gonna have a little bit more money in their bank account, but other than that, we’re all in the same boat.
Q: Your emotions as the draft nears.
A: Just ready to get with my new team and get ready for the season. I just want to be with a group of people that’s pretty much like a family and that wants Myles for Myles.
Q: Is there an NBA player who reminds you of you?
A: I like the way Seth Curry plays, how he moves on the court, how he gets to his spots on the floor, he knows how to score the ball. He comes in off the bench and makes an impact in the game right away, that’s pretty much what I see myself coming in and doing.
Q: You can play one-on-one against anyone in NBA history.
A: Damian Lillard.
Q: Why him?
A: Just ’cause the passion that I see he plays with. I know he’s not gonna take it easy on me. He has a lot of moves, and if you ever see me play, you know that I’m playing for something, you see my passion. I just love Dame, his work ethic and who he is as a man on and off the court.
Q: What areas of your game have you been working on the most?
A: Just being more comfortable with the ball. I’ve been working out with Rick Brunson, who was a point guard and he lasted in the NBA for 10-plus years. His son, Jalen Brunson (Mavericks), has won every point guard award that you can win, so I know everything that Rick is teaching me is helping me not only to make it to the NBA but to last in the NBA.
Q: What kind of shape are you in?
A: I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. Whatever team picks me up and when training camp starts on December 1st, I’ll be ready.
Q: How sad were you when March Madness was canceled?
A: It hit me pretty hard. … How I found out is Wednesday we had the Big East Player of the Year banquet, and that was for me, and then that Thursday morning we woke up and the first game of the Big East Tournament (St. John’s-Creighton quarterfinal) got shut down at halftime. Then we were on the bus coming back to school and then just seeing our coaches starting to tear up and walk to the back of the bus and pretty much just tell the seniors, “Thank you for everything” we’ve done for the program, that’s when it really hit me that my senior year and my career at Seton Hall was over.
Q: You thought that Seton Hall was destined for the Final Four, right?
A: Yes, for sure. I knew we were gonna make a run. I liked where we were at, Coach (Kevin) Willard had a nice game plan for us, and I feel like we had a chance of winning the Big East Tournament, and then making a run in the Tournament.
Q: This is what you told me in March about your Final Four dream:
A: Just growing up, always watching college basketball, I want to say the most memorable time I remember as a kid and just wishing of a moment, like that I could have a moment like this, is Kemba Walker and that run that he went on. … I just remember as a little boy just watching that and being, “Man, I wish I have a moment to do that.” And then my former teammate Malachi Richardson, we’re both from Trenton, I’ve known him since I was 11 years old, we went to Trenton Catholic together, we played AAU together, he wound up going to Syracuse and he went on that special run that he went on, so watching him take his team to the Final Four and just seeing how his life changed from that, that was another one of my dreams. That was one of my best friends in high school too, so for it to happen to someone and watch someone go through that that was so close to me, it made me feel like I was going through it as well.
Q: Your mentality on the court in college.
A: Kill everything. I know I’m gonna get everybody’s best shot. I know coming in, the scouting report’s mainly gonna be how could you stop me. I know I’m gonna see a face-guard or a double team or a box-and-one, so I just try to come into the game with the killer mentality. I know that that’s what my team needs for me to win. I know they look at me for energy, motivation and stuff like that.
Q: Who are the people at Seton Hall you’ll be thinking about?
A: Everybody. Every coach that I had at Seton Hall, every teammate that I had at Seton Hall made me a better person not only off the court but on the court as well. I owe it all to them guys that day in and day out they always believed in me, they always pushed me to be a better person. It’s gonna be a group effort, it’s not only Myles Powell getting drafted or getting picked up, it’s the whole Seton Hall family.
Q: Your worst basketball moment.
A: When I broke my (left) foot my prep year, so right before I came to college and I feel like that’s when I gained all the weight, and that’s when I didn’t really know which way it was gonna go for me, if I was gonna really continue basketball, or if I really had a career in this basketball thing. I feel like that was one of the lowest parts of my life, and that was my second time breaking my foot. I didn’t know if I was gonna need surgery, if I was gonna have to put a screw in.
Q: You thought your basketball days were over?
A: Not necessarily over, but it was just like … ’cause when I broke it my sophomore year I didn’t really come back the same, and it took me quite a while to come back and really start feeling myself, and then when I just broke it the second time, it was right after Seton Hall had just won a Big East (Championship) and it was just me being a young kid just thinking like, “Maybe Seton Hall don’t even really need me?” Like, what if I go there and I’m not the same, and I’m starting to get overweight.” It was just little things like that, that it was just like I wasn’t mentally strong enough yet, I was still a little kid and it was just like I was just overthinking it. The game meaning so much to me and just losing that part of my life.
Q: When you broke your foot for the second time, who took you under their wing?
A: All the four seniors that were there, they had just gone through this with Isaiah Whitehead. Isaiah Whitehead broke his foot in his freshman year as well, so they knew what things to say and how to push me. The coaching staff and the training staff at Seton Hall, they put me with the best doctors, they made sure that I was going to rehab every day. That’s when I blew up and got to 260 pounds and the seniors helped me keep my confidence for me to lose that weight.
Q: Hall coach Kevin Willard.
A: Kevin Willard has been a father figure to me. Everything that he told me came true, he’s never lied to me, he’s always believed in me. There were sometimes during games where I felt him believing in myself more than I believed in my own self, and having the confidence in me. I wouldn’t be the person and the man that I am not only on the court but off the court as well, when everything was going on my sophomore year, he brought me into his house, I was staying with him for about a month-and-a-half, two months. He was more than a college basketball coach for me, and for that I’ll love him forever.
Q: Best Garden moment.
A: When we beat Kentucky. … I hit the game-winner. … I wound up scoring my 2,000th points at Madison Square Garden as well. … We beat South Carolina when they were Top 10 in the Garden, and we beat Texas Tech in the Garden. And when I outscored Georgetown at halftime, I had 29, I think they wound up having like 27 or 28. That’s five memories at Madison Square Garden that I feel like I’ll remember for the rest of my life, that being one of the most exciting buildings in the world.
Q: Describe what life has been like for you since the pandemic began.
A: It’s been crazy. I was lucky to be able to work out with a potential top-5 pick in Obi Toppin, we’ve been able to battle each other every day, come in the gym and make each other better. Just waking up every day not really knowing what was next, and from the draft being pushed from June to October to now November it was just wild waking up every day not really knowing, but I’m finally happy that it’s here.
Q: If you could pick the brain of one player in NBA history.
A: Either LeBron or Magic. And if Kobe was still alive, I would want to talk to Kobe as well.
Q: Athletes in other sports you admire.
A: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter in baseball … football, Lamar Jackson, everybody was saying he should try to change his position to a wide receiver or a running back, and he stuck with what he did and he became the MVP of the league. People always try to tell me that I’m too small to be a 2-guard or things like that, try to change my game around, tell me I need to move to a point guard, so I admire him for that. Swimming, I like to swim, Michael Phelps, what he was doing, that was legendary, I’ll never forget that. … Usain Bolt, my dad’s Jamaican.
Q: Why Jeter and A-Rod?
A: I feel like Derek Jeter, you never really hear about him getting into altercations off the field, or you never really heard him into trouble, so if it was anything that I would want to follow, I would want to follow that, his legacy. Whenever you bring Derek Jeter up, it’s nothing but good things to say about him. And A-Rod, he’s one of the legends, he might have had some ups and downs, but you can’t really forget about what he did.
Q: Where were the best playground games?
A: Cadwalader Park. It was right down the street. I feel like everybody went there. That was where all the good players went, and that’s where you can get the best runs at. I grew up watching my older brother play there. Like when I was 10, he was 17, so that was about the age that I can go and watch some real basketball. When I really started to fall in love with the game, I just remember the memories being there.
Q: Boyhood idol?
A: I want to say J.R. Smith just because he was so close, we wound up playing for the same AAU team, he always come around, he was a shooter.
Q: Other favorite players growing up?
A: Allen Iverson, Philly right there close to Trenton; Michael Jordan, of course, and then LeBron.
Q: What did Graduation Day mean to you?
A: It meant everything, not only to me but to my family as well. To be the first person in my family to graduate (Social Behavior and Science degree) and to be a role model for the younger kids in my family, and my little brothers and sisters, for me to be able to be the one to be able to tell them that they can do it just because I did it and have the paper and something that no one can ever take from me means a lot. For me to be a role model not only on the court but off the court as well, it goes a long way, especially coming from Trenton.
Q: Tell me what your mother means to you.
A: I feel like I get my dog from my mother. I’ve never seen her give up or say she couldn’t do something, if you ever needed anything, she went out and found a way to do it. There’s nothing on the court that I feel like I can’t do or I can’t achieve. I never let anybody put limits on my dreams and my ability. Raising two boys on her own and then being a single mother throughout college and raising two little ones on her own now. She means the world to me, she knows she means the world to me and we’re in this fight together. And I know she’s got me and I got her.
Q: You’ll be watching the draft at a restaurant with your mother and father.
A: My relationship with my dad (Noel Powell Jr.) is getting better. He’s always been there for me whenever I needed anything, whenever I needed a man point of view, he’s always been there and been that father figure for me.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: LeBron James; Jay-Z; Barack Obama.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: Paid in Full.
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Liam Neeson.
Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Soul food — fried chicken, Mac and cheese, yams and cornbread.
Q: When I asked you in March what you wanted your legacy to be, this is what you told me:
A: I just want everybody to remember me as a loving, happy, hard worker, that did his best for this university. I feel like I gave this university my all. I love our fans … my coaching staff, everybody that I met through this program. Like I said, I just want to show the next kid that you can go to a university, you can be yourself, and you can honestly make a difference. And I feel like I come here, and I made a difference, not only in this university, but the impact in Jersey that I made for the next young kids growing up. I just want everybody to remember me as one one of the best to ever come through here. On and off the court. Every autograph someone asks me to sign, I sign it. Every picture somebody asks me to take, I take it. I don’t really find myself saying no. I just feel like that’s just how life’s supposed to be, and when you live life the right way, I feel like God always comes back and takes care of you.
Q: You have 28 tattoos … what was your first one?
A: My mom’s name (Jeanette, left forearm).
Q: Other favorite tattoos?
A: I have her birthday and my dad’s birthday, and (on chest) it says Trenton Makes The World Takes, it’s a bridge in Trenton, that’s what we’re known for pretty much. And then I have a quote from my brother, “Whatever I Got You Can Get It, If I Don’t Got It I’m Gonna Go Out And Get It We Split It We Did It.” He dedicated that to me when he first got locked up, and he just told me to go do it, and that’s pretty much what I’ve just been doing, just trying to grind for him, just let him know that there’s better days ahead.
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