NBA 2019 draft prospect John Konchar: ‘I am a 3-and-D guy’

Purdue Fort-Wayne standout John Konchar is a skilled, versatile prospect. The 6-foot-5 combo guard projects as a 3-and-D player in the NBA.

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But he is also a fantastic playmaker who produced 13.3 points per game out of the pick-and-roll last season, which ranked Top 25 among D1 players. When including passes, he averaged 1.47 points per possession and assists overall on offense. Among all who had at least 650 opportunities, no player had a higher mark. Others in the Top 10 include projected first-rounders Ja Morant as well as Ty Jerome.

Kevin O’Connor currently ranks him No. 52 overall on The Ringer’s Big Board. Konchar also appears in the Top 100 for ESPN, CBS Sports and The Athletic. The prospect caught up with HoopsHype to discuss his NBA future.

I wanted to get started by asking you what you’ve been doing so far to prepare for the NBA draft?

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John Konchar: So I got out here about a month ago and I’ve been I’ve been doing weight training and working on my core with my trainer Dion Lee and we’ve just been working out on things, getting better at all the little things. It’s essentially just me and Romeo Langford, it’s great having just us two with one trainer, working on the things we need to work on, it’s really good. I’ve done several workouts so far so I’ve been traveling on top of that as well.

What do you feel you’ve improved on the most in the offseason so far?

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JK: I would say going off screens and catching and shooting right away. I know I have to excel in shooting off the run, going to the corner and running up to the wing, so I’ve been really focusing on that and NBA threes as well. Also, ballhandling I know I played point guard the past two years in college and I know I can have a chance with that and being able to shoot at a high rate as well.

How did you end up at the school you did and were there any other offers from bigger basketball programs?

JK: My senior year in high school I played really well, the conference wasn’t the greatest, I had two offers out of high school, IPFW and Chicago State as well and one Division II offer.

What was your favorite takeaway you got from playing there, what were some things you were really glad you learned about the school that helped you move on in your life after that?

JK: I was there for five years and it became like a second home to me. Just meeting everybody around there, it was a great experience, every single year my leadership skills got a lot better. That’s why honestly I chose my master’s degree as organizational leadership, trying to lead from within better and how to communicate, learn about your teammates and how to coach all of them in a different way or in a specific way to get the best out of them.

What do you think you’re going to be able to do to continue to get better?

JK: My jump shot, shooting threes, trying to shoot a better percentage every single day, getting in the lane as well, coming off of screens trying to get better at that. I was really skinny in high school, that was one of my knocks. I wasn’t highly recruited and I gained the weight in college. My redshirt year I needed to gain weight to become really successful because I was really skinny, I didn’t want to get pushed around so the first couple months were hard, then I befriended my strength coach Kevin Rudolphi and to this day we still talk a lot, he helps me a lot and took me under his wings

What was your relationship like with a lot of the court staff at Purdue Fort Wayne and what are some things they really helped you with?

JK: Every single relationship I made was really good, my strength coach Kevin Rudolphi I already said, he helped me every single day. My trainer Nick Antonelli, those two were probably my best friends in college which is kind of different. My coaches helped me as well every single summer, coach Jon Coffman took all of the time to make me comfortable and work on every single skill I can and work for the team, build the skills for the team for the next year that was needed.

What did you study in school? Did you start taking grad school classes?

JK: I studied information technology for my undergrad. I redshirted my freshman year, so I finished that in four years and started my masters in organizational leadership and I have four classes left to finish that.

Among your many achievements, what have you been most proud of so far? 

JK: Well, I set one goal in my senior year. I had 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 200 steals for my college career. No one had ever done it, my dad did his research on that. So I would say that is my favorite and biggest accomplishment throughout college. just seeing no one else has done it in college basketball is pretty cool to see.

What about your game allowed you to have such a well-rounded profile?

JK: We played at a fast pace and I can get into the lane a lot of times and people don’t think I’m as quick as I am but I am decently quick. I can get into the paint really easily and dish out to anyone. I find the open man and I can score at the basket a lot. I am sneaky athletic as well, I can always find where the ball is going for rebounds. Like I said, I had over 1,000 rebounds. I start with the rebounding and go from there.

I would love to hear how you developed such a unique scoring portfolio that you managed to be so efficient in so many different ways of scoring and so many different types of offenses.

JK: I would say freshman year I was more of a cutter and rebounder. Then throughout the years, every single summer, I wanted to focus on a couple things to get better. My coaches at my college really helped me achieve this and try to get better every single day. We were there all summer so we took advantage of that and my freshman year I was a cutter and dunked everything or had layups and rebounded really well for the team. My sophomore year, I was able to shoot a lot more threes and my point guard really got me open a lot because I played the four then. I played a bunch of different roles during my first two years and then my junior year I ended up playing point guard because we needed a point guard. My junior and senior years I stayed at the one the whole time and had to learn the ins and outs of playing point guard because I hadn’t played since high school and high school is a lot different from college. I had to figure out what I can excel and what I do excel at.

You were one of the most prolific scorers in terms of pick-and-roll. How confident do you feel moving to the next level about the pick and roll considering that is such a huge part of NBA offense?

JK: I feel very confident with my pick-and-roll. It was essentially our whole entire offense unless we called a play, which we didn’t really do that often. We ran high ball screens and I got to work reading the tag man and figuring out whatever ball screen defense they play, learning it quick so we can get as many possessions of open shots.

When it comes to being a distributor, how much of that will you be doing at the next level as well, considering what you’ve done in the past so far?

JK: I can do it essentially the same, almost the same as in college, although there are going to be a lot bigger athletes in the lane. But I’ve been working on my floater as well, just getting in there so if they respect my floater so I can kick it out and find more people open. I can essentially find anyone if they are open, I have great vision on the court.

I know that you had only 14, 15 floaters last season, what made you decide to add that to your game?

JK: My league had one seven-footer I think but every single day in the NBA you’re going to go against a seven footer or someone really athletic in the paint. I’ll need to be able to get a nice touch over them since laying it up probably won’t work out too often. This month, I’ve really been working on my floater – coming off screens and throwing it up.

When it comes to the role you could play on offense and defense, how would you describe the way you’ll fit into the NBA game?

JK: I would say I am a 3-and-D guy. I would take any role any team would want me to play obviously because I’m just trying to get into the NBA. I am a really good defender. Some people might not see it but I think it’s just a lot of effort and I play really hard every single day, every single possession of the game, I’ll dive on the floor and make hard plays. I outplay everyone I play against. I’ll work harder than them off the court. I’d watch game film on the guy I’m playing against and find out their tendencies and take it away.

When it comes to your life off the basketball court, what are some things you’ve done to keep yourself busy and keep yourself engaged beyond basketball?

JK: I play video games, I play Call of Duty, Fortnite with my friends from college or high school, I like to be outdoors, I got into photography a little bit. I picked up photography the past year and I have a Nikon P6. I dabble with everything, learning the ins and outs of it and still learning, I don’t think I am that great of a photographer yet, in due time. I like to travel.

What are some things you picked up through your studies you think could help you along your way of the crazy journey?

JK: I would say time management because traveling with school and basketball games, I needed to figure out to be efficient with my time. My senior year I picked up a job in the equipment room to teach myself time management and what I’d need to do at different times of the day and not relax, trying to figure out what I needed to do and accomplish that day and week and it really helped me.

Anything you are trying to stress with teams when you meet them, what are they taking away from you as a person that you’re really trying to make sure they know about you?

JK: Just that I work hard every single day, the effort is always there, the leadership skills are there, I am 23 years old and probably one of the oldest people in the draft right now. I want to show the leadership skills and I can fit into any role they need me to play.

Anything else interesting that you think would be good to know for a story like this one? 

JK: Another unique thing is that I worked too on top of basketball and school. I really liked my boss, throughout the years I made a good friendship with her and she had a bunch of openings and I asked. The relationships I built through all of that helped as well, wanted some money. I don’t know what my title was. We did the laundry for other teams like volleyball and the basketball team. We had a power wash, took inventory, all of the gear as well. It was a nice little side job to earn some extra cash and it was already at school so I didn’t have to drive somewhere far to do it. Not everyone wants to do laundry and having to do it made me think, our managers had to do the little things nobody wanted to do and I really appreciated that and pointed them out a lot for their helpfulness, for wanting to do this and helping us.

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