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Posted On: 07/4/18 9:35 PM
Paradise Honors rising junior Jerry Iliya, one of the state’s most athletic leapers and finishers at the basket, sat down with Prep Hoops writer Eric Newman to speak about offseason training and how he got interested in basketball just five years ago.
Newman: You competed well here at the Southwest All-American Camp. What is it like playing against some of the best players in the state.
Iliya: You can only get better. I always say that playing against these guys, because where I’m from, Nigeria, it’s hard to find so much talent in basketball, because so many people play soccer.
Is it hard being against some of the seniors here when you’ve still got a couple years left?
For me it’s not hard, because I just want to play basketball and be the best I can be, and see where it goes from there.
What has the process college recruiting been like?
It’s been new, talking to college coaches that you see on TV. I can just say it’s a blessing from God, getting calls from people like that.
I can see that you’re not scared to go up and dunk on anyone. Is that your favorite thing to do on the court?
I love dunking, but as my coach says, I need to expand my game to the next level, so I try to shoot the ball more and do less dunking. I can be hard to defend if I can shoot and take it to the hole and dunk it.
You have a pretty good team at Paradise Honors, is it one of the best teams you’ve been a part of?
It’s pretty talented but it’s young, only two or three seniors. It’s a great pleasure playing with them, and I think we’re going to grow as a team because we are really young. Hopefully we will win the state championship
What are you trying to improve on defense?
My coach is always telling me to slide my legs, and it’s been pretty difficult, so I’m really working on that, so that’s what I’m trying to get better at.
How has it helped your game to play all these games in June? Does it tire you out?
They say anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I feel like I get sore, but I feel like I have more energy than a lot of guys. It’s not that difficult for me. I’ve still only been playing about five years.
What got you interested in basketball?
I grew up playing soccer, but people always told me that I was too tall and that I should try basketball. And people loved me in the gym because of my height and how high I can jump. Since I started I just fell in love with the game.