After winning the NCAA title and Final Four Most Outstanding Player, guard Kyle Guy was selected in the second round of the 2019 NBA draft.
Last season, the former McDonald’s All-American and Indiana Mr. Basketball led the ACC in three-pointers made and had the second-best three-point percentage. Guy also had the fourth-most defensive win shares and fourth-best offensive box plus-minus in his conference.
During three games of summer league action at the California Classic, Guy connected on 40.9 percent of his three-pointers and averaged 3.9 field goals from beyond the arc per 36 minutes. He caught up with HoopsHype during a wild offseason period.
What were your impressions of the fit with the Sacramento Kings?
Kyle Guy: I’m not just saying this but I think if you can shoot the ball you’ll probably fit in with most teams. Or at least, you know, probably 20 to 25 out of the 30 teams you’ll fit in with. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I didn’t care if it was pick No. 7, pick No. 60 or not picked at all. Whoever wanted to give me the opportunity, I was going to be so grateful.
I’d love to hear about what the wild offseason looked like for you after winning the NCAA championship.
Kyle Guy: It’s been fun, it’s been a whirlwind, it’s a grind. Obviously, travel was no joke. This summer is kind of like a mini-season. The only con playing this far into April during college basketball is that you don’t have a break. You start training for these workouts and you have the workouts and the draft and the summer league and you have a week off and then you start training camp. So I mean, it has been a lot but it was all worth it and it was a fun process.
Can you talk to me a little bit about the way that taking home a national championship helped with getting you to where you are today?
KG: Yeah, 100 percent. I believe that I am ready for the NBA in all aspects. But winning definitely helped because if we would have lost, it would have been very hard for me to leave that stone unturned. One of the reasons why I left is because I felt that there was nothing else I could accomplish in the college realm. So that was big for me. I’m not going to say it was “do or die” because I don’t know if it was. But it was very important.
What your relationship with Virginia teammates Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter looks like? What was it like to go through this pre-draft process together?
KG: We talk to each other every day on Instagram. We send each other funny videos, or just say ‘wassup’ and just make fun of each other and ask how everything is going. We have a very goofy relationship, we’re all really good friends. Those will be some of my best friends for the rest of my life. But I was just so excited to go through this process at the same time as them. I was so thrilled that they all heard their names called on Thursday. We set goals when we went to UVA: we wanted to win a national championship together and we wanted to get drafted together. I had a storybook ending to my time in the NCAA.
Tell me a little bit about some of the ways that Tony Bennett and the UVA program helped prepare you for the NBA. What did playing in that conference and playing for that coach really did to get you to where you are today.
KG: I think the biggest thing that everyone already knows about is just the defense. Learning the lingo, learning not only how to guard a guard, but also the first, second, third, fourth rotations, can really get you ahead in an NBA team environment. That and just the fundamentals. Actually, it was kind of an NBA-style offense this year. We had a lot of freedom, a small structure, sharpshooters and trusted our best players to make plays. I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be.
I know you and Ty Jerome are both elite shooters coming off a screen. How will that play type help you transition to the NBA?
KG: You have to have the right guys on the offense. You have to have servants like Jack Salt who just want to get you open. You have to have someone who can pass like Ty. You have to have the right personnel that can make decisions because we had so much freedom this year. He would call a play, he would call ‘Sides’ and I was supposed to run off a screen from Jack and Ty is supposed to get it to me. But sometimes, I would run it the opposite way and Ty just knew I was going that way and then they’d clear out that side. It was a lot of team chemistry, it was a lot of high I.Q. players and you have to trust each other and be able to make those plays.
What are some things you would say about your offense when it comes to playing at a different pace? Obviously, Virginia’s pace is different than most college basketball teams. How do would you feel playing at a different speed than Virginia is going to benefit you at the next level?
KG: There are not 30 or 35 seconds to get shots off anymore, there’s only 24 and by the time you get past half court there are only 15 seconds. It’ll be very high-paced. I think that bodes well for me just because I can get my shot off really quick. I’m pretty efficient. That’ll be nice. Defensively, it will be nice because I’ll have much fresher legs on the offensive end because I’m not in a stance for 30 seconds.
Can you walk me through some of the roles you think you would thrive in on offense and defense at the next level, coming into the NBA both in the short term and the long term?
KG: By no means do I think I’m going to be a lockdown defender right away. But I think knowing the rotations can help get some deflections, steals, make them make some bad passes. Make them think about their decisions to help give the defense get time to reorganize and settle in. On the offensive end, obviously, I think my shooting ability can put me on the NBA floor at any time. These teams have four-point lines in their practice gyms so shooting is at an all-time premium right now. Everybody needs it. You know, I think every year I’ll be able to expand my game, show a little bit more and continue to work. I’m just excited.
What kind of feedback did you get from NBA teams when you were going in for team workouts before the draft?
KG: A lot of them were like ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could do that’ whether it was my passing ability or athletic ability. I don’t think that I was able to showcase everything at UVA. But that was for the betterment of the team, so I was fine with it. I think I became a better teammate and a better overall player by doing that. I think just being able to show them some things they didn’t know I had was important to me. I think most teams had me anywhere from the second round where I went to some having me going undrafted. But I’m just going to trust in myself and bet on myself just like Fred VanVleet has done.
You seem to have a really big following of fans on Twitter and everything like that too. What do you think draws that?
KG: Part of it is probably is because I’m an okay basketball player. I’d say the other half is just because I’m a very fun-loving and high character. I like to have fun, I’m goofy when I’m on there. I like to make fun of my teammates and stuff. Anything that can get a laugh out of people is probably why I have so many followers. It’s definitely not because I’m good looking.
What are some things that you do when you’re not playing basketball? What are some ways you keep your time busy?
KG: It’s no secret that I’m engaged, so I’m just spending time with my fiancé. We like to travel. We really like Broadway shows. I’m definitely super into it, she’s pretty into it too. I like to read a lot, I’m trying to read a book a month. I love a good movie or T.V. show, I’m super into Hollywood and just how they’re made, I love seeing documentaries, behind the scenes and all that stuff. I just really like sports too, I like going into other realms. I was never a soccer player but I like learning about soccer and going in to see how they prepare, see how magnificent it is how they can do with their feet what I can barely do with my hands. There’s not really a whole lot I don’t like. I love music, I like eating. I’m a pretty average guy when it comes to that. I just like pretty much everything. Try to not take life for granted and enjoy it.
What are some books and musicals you’ve finished recently that you’ve enjoyed?
KG: I saw The Greatest Showman, which was so great. I’ve seen Les Miserables and I’ve seen Hamilton – which is probably the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen some more but probably some that not everybody will know. Books, my favorite book is The Alchemist. I’m reading Ender’s Game right now, which is supposed to be a book that a lot of the military officials are recommended to read before they start their service. Anything that’s going to help me become a better person is what I like to read about.
Is there anything else that you think is interesting about your backstory that you think would be good to add for a story like this one and give folks a better idea of either your game on and off the court or about you as a person that would be kind of interesting to share?
KG: I wore number 5 because I have five siblings, all younger. That’s pretty cool. I’m only 21 and getting ready to get married this summer, and not a lot of people can quite comprehend that, but when you know you know.