Lakers Rookies Getting a Jump Start

Lakers second round picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter have been a constant, collective presence at the team’s practice facility since Labor Day, serving the dual purpose of learning Phil Jackson’s system and getting physically ready for training camp.

Assistant coach Jim Cleamons was at the team’s facility on Friday continuing the off-season triangle offense instruction started in July by fellow assistant Chuck Person (pictured below), while strengh and conditioning chief Chip Schaefer continued to put the rooks through off-court drills and excercises.

After a Friday morning session, Ebanks and Caracter joined us to discuss their first impressions of the organization, their days as AAU teammates, Tupac vs. Biggy and more:

102618713GE385_Summer_LeagueMT: Let’s start with your respective first impressions of the Lakers having now been here for a little while working out:
Devin Ebanks: That everyone is a hard worker. Seeing Kobe in here every day early, for example, makes me want to work even harder. You know he’s put in a lot of work (already) in his career and to see him still doing that is (motivating).
Derrick Caracter: Same thing. With the vets, seeing guys like Kobe, Theo Ratliff and Derek Fisher … (Fisher) was out here yesterday working, looking like he was 17. Just seeing how the veterans take care of their bodies, and how guys who have been in the league for 14 years still going at that pace makes you as a rookie feel like you can’t take any days off, and that you have to bring the same amount of energy if not more.

MT: After the draft, GM Mitch Kupchak said that the two of you would join the Lakers Summer League team in Las Vegas, and then likely be invited to training camp. No contracts were signed at the time, and thus a roster spot wasn’t guaranteed. But clearly Kupchak and his staff liked how you both played in Vegas and what they saw in the weeks after, as both of you officially signed contracts in early August. Your thoughts at the time?
Ebanks: It was a great feeling, a dream come true really. Having a chance to be on the best team in the league is exciting, and I’m happy everybody on the staff thought that DC (Caracter) and I were suitable to play for the Lakers.
Caracter: As far as the whole draft process was concerned, I just kept my faith strong, and although I may have slipped a little bit,* you can’t worry about that. It doesn’t matter now, and I think everything happens for a reason. I feel to 58, but I fell to the back-to-back champions.
*Caracter was taken with the 58th overall pick, Ebanks the 43rd.

61032342MT: As I understand it, you guys have been playing with or against each other since way back in the New York City surrounding area AAU circuit…
Ebanks: It’s been great coming in here with someone that I go back to high school days. We played on the same AAU team, and (when we were on opposing teams) I’d always see him in different tournaments around New York and New Jersey. Like he said, everything happens for a reason, and it’s a great feeling to have someone you grew up playing with come into the NBA with you.
Caracter: Yeah I’m from Jersey, but I played with Devin on the New York Panthers team. I also played at Riverside, and so did he, but I was gone from there by the time he got to Riverside. The AAU circuit is so tight, especially when it’s New York and New Jersey, especially for me because I was from New Jersey but on New York teams. I had gone from being a Nike kid to an Adidas kid, and a Long Island team was Adidas while the Nike team was Riverside.

MT: Yeah, I was a Nike guy. Not really. Anyways, being East Coast guys, what’s your initial take on L.A.?
Ebanks: It’s cool. It’s not like New York is in terms of hustle and bustle. It seems more laid back. But I haven’t gotten to do much yet, I’ve been pretty much just working out and playing basketball. Once I get acclimated, I’ll be interested to see what L.A. has to offer.
Caracter: I’ve been out a few times, checked out some improv, a little comedy show. I didn’t get on stage though … (the comedian) tried to crack some jokes on me but I just kept quiet. I’ve never really been a crazy West Coast guy, but L.A.’s cool. I’m going to enjoy myself and get adjusted to any place I go to, but I never want to forget that I’m here for one reason.

tupac-und-biggieMT: Speaking of East Coast – West Coast, we can transition easily over to hip hop. My first rap album in the mid 1990′s was Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me.” Tupac is from East Harlem, but also lived in Baltimore before later in high school moving to California…
Caracter: Tupac came out to the West Coast and people started claiming that he was a West Coast dude, but he’s from the East Coast. No matter what, I’m a Tupac guy. He’s my favorite.
Ebanks: I’m a Biggy man myself. No disrespect to Tupac, I just like Biggy more, I thought he was a better rapper.
Caracter: I used to have fights over that. ‘Pac was flowing too. Biggy was more smooth and cool (in his style), but I feel that numbers don’t lie. ‘Pac dropped how many albums vs. the two Big put out. I’m not saying Big wasn’t a great rapper, but it shows that ‘Pac was constantly in that booth. Acutally, the new Bun B album that just came out in 2010, ‘Pac has a verse on that album.

MT: Really? I remember Bun B from UGK (Underground Kingz), and the guest verse on Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’”. What other artists do you listen to?
(Both): Lil’ Wayne, Drake, J. Cole, Young Jeezy, Common…
Caracter: Some old school R&B and classic soul too, and Jack Johnson.
Ebanks: DC has more of the old man in him, more of the soul. I’m more hip-hop.

MT: Derrick’s a big Lady Gaga fan too, right Devin?
Ebanks: (laughs)
Caracter: Nah, nah … (reconsiders) … actually I was on Lady Gaga for a little bit, but once everyone hopped on it too much, I wasn’t on it as much.

MT: Hey she’s pretty good … I saw Ron Artest at her first concert at Nokia Theatre across from STAPLES Center.
How about TV?

Ebanks: Just Sportscenter, if I’m watching TV it’s on ESPN.
MT: No “Mad Men,” “Friday Night Lights” or “True Blood,” Andrew Bynum’s favorite show?
Caracter: I don’t really watch TV. Once they came out with that NBA housewives show, I do not turn the TV on. Instead I read books and listen to music.

MT: Such as?
Caracter: I just read “Peaks and Valleys” by Spencer Johnson (M.D.). I also just got Phil Jackson’s book, “The Last Season,” from my agent.
Ebanks: Not really any reading for me.

MT: What do you (Ebanks) do in your free time besides listen to music?
Ebanks: I’ve been on Twitter a lot (@DevinEbanks3), you could call me a Twitterhead. I’ll be on my computer doing other things, but that’s about it.

MT: OK. Who’s stronger?
Ebanks: DC.
Caracter: (nods).
MT: Physically stronger, sure, but who wins in a fight?
Caracter: (laughs). We’d never fight, of course, and I’m not hating, but, I’ve got these hands…
Ebanks: I’m a lover, not a fighter. He can have it.
Caracter: I will say that skinny dudes can hit hard. I have a lot of friends at home like that, they have more bone and they connect, that can hurt.

MT: Nice. I’m not being unfair to say we can choose Ebanks in a foot race though, right?
Caracter: Well … I mean we can try it. I’m sure he’d get me, but he has to prove it.
Ebanks: (laughs)

MT: Better shooter?
Ebanks: I’m gonna have to take that rap for that one.
Caracter: He does shoot more jumpers than me.

MT: That’s OK, (Caracter has) the low post game. Finally, who’s funnier?
Ebanks: This dude right here. For real.
Caracter: (laughs)