Nike Hoop Summit Player Profile: Rakeem Christmas
A 6’9” forward out of Philadelphia, Pa., Rakeem Christmas has compiled quite a resume as a high school athlete. Selected to play for the USA Junior National Select Team in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit on April 9 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore., Christmas also will participate in the 2011 McDonald’s All-American Game on March 30, along with eight of his Nike Hoop Summit teammates, and the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic All-America Game on April 16, again alongside eight of his USA teammates.
As a senior at Academy of the New Church in 2010-11, Christmas averaged 9.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game to help his team to a 21-6 record and the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Independent School Championship, falling to Malvern Prep with a 28-26, overtime loss.
Having also participated in 2009 and 2010 Nike Skills Academies and the 2010 Boost Mobile Elite 24, Christmas got his first taste of international basketball rules in the 2010 Nike Global Challenge, and, no surprise, he cited the freedom to knock shots off of the rim as his favorite international rule.
Often described as an explosive, athletic forward, Christmas recently talked with USABasketball.com about his high school career and his current focus, which is all about becoming a better player before joining the Syracuse Orange in 2011-12.
Do you know many of your USA teammates? Who are you looking forward to playing with?
Playing with Mike (Gilchrist) again, because I played AAU with him. James McAdoo, we’re pretty close. Those two, and Austin Rivers. I’m looking forward to playing with pretty much all my USA teammates.
Have you talked with any of your teammates about the game? Do you know what to expect from the World Team?
I haven’t talked to any of my teammates about the game. I guess, when I get there, I’ll see.
You played in the 2010 Nike Global Challenge in Portland. What do you think of international rules? Is there an international rule you’d like to see the high school game adopt?
It was pretty fun. Playing against international players, they play a little differently, so we had to adjust to that. I liked the goaltending rule, where you can just take a shot off the rim.
What made Syracuse a good fit for you?
I know a lot of players there, and I like coach Boeheim and coach Murphy. They run a lot of stuff that I’m used to playing in high school and during the summertime, too.
What is your favorite training routine or drill?
I like pretty much all of the drills I do, because they all help me a lot.
What is your least favorite training routine or drill?
I don’t really have one.
Where is the most room for improvement in your game?
I think I have the most room to improve on my dribbling and perimeter shooting.
Who do you most like to be compared to?
KG (Kevin Garnett) and Kevin Durant, they are versatile forwards that are aggressive. They can go out and score from the perimeter, or stay in and dominate.
What helps you stay motivated?
Just getting ready for the next level at Syracuse and getting ready to win a championship there.
Your high school season has already finished. How did you feel wrapping up your prep basketball career?
It was kind of emotional the last game, but I just got over it and started focusing on getting ready for Syracuse next year. Now, it’s all about getting ready for next season.
What do you hope to accomplish in the Nike Hoop Summit?
I want to win the game and have fun with friends before I go to Syracuse.