AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was introduced to the media here on Friday, in a gathering attended by a couple hundred people - more than seemed to be at a few Georgia basketball games last year.
Caldwell-Pope spoke softly as he sat next to Detroit general manager Joe Dumars. Then Caldwell-Pope posed with his new jersey, which will be No. 5. And he gave some interviews while banners with names like Thomas, Laimbeer, Dumars and Daly loomed over him.
Afterwards, I caught up with Caldwell-Pope, touching base on a few subjects:
- Given what a touch decision it was to leave, and with some recent decisions by Georgia players serving as a cautionary note, what did it mean to be picked so high in the draft?
"It's a blessing. I mean, just me leaving school and the feedback I was getting at first, I knew I was taking a risk," he said. "But I had confidence, I knew I could go into the workouts and I could prove myself. And I did that. It really just helped me."
- How much of a risk was it for Caldwell-Pope to turn pro? Before he declared for the draft, some teams were still pegging him as a second-rounder, and the lottery was hardly mentioned.
"The feedback I was getting was half of the teams had me going first round, and half had me going second round. And some had me going late-first, early-second," Caldwell-Pope said. "But taking that feedback and letting it motivate me, leaving college, going to L.A. and train ... I was coming in with a mindset that I want to move up in the draft. Probably that mindset helped me."
- Former teammates and coaches at Georgia have been in constant contact with Caldwell-Pope, supporting and encouraging him.
"I talk to the players all the time. We still got a great bond," Caldwell-Pope said. "I did talk to coach (Mark) Fox yesterday, a couple days as well, and coach (Phillip) Pearson. I stay in contact with the coaches and players. By them supporting me, it just shows I've got great players behind me."
- Finally, how does Caldwell-Pope think Georgia will do without him next season?
"I haven't really seen them work out, but I really think it's gonna be good," he said. "They've still got the same (group), most of the players are coming back, and they've got some new additions. So I think they're gonna be good."
I'll have more from Caldwell-Pope and Dumars for a story in Saturday's papers. In the meantime, here are some videos from Friday's press conference.
Joe Dumars on what impressed him about KCP
Caldwell-Pope talks about whether he was surprised to go to Detroit.
Joe Dumars talks more about Caldwell-Pope