ZS: What's your ideology in bringing your basketball program to Conrad Academy and how do you envision the program growing here in Orlando?
SW: We're looking to lay the foundation for years to come. This is a great spot where I know this could be a longevity deal here. The administration here at the school, the facilities, and the educational component here is an overall good fit for what I do, what I bring to the table. I really want our guys to come in and get acclimated here and start building the foundation for the future.
ZS: After a stellar summer registering his presence as one of the top unsigned guards in the country, what role do you anticipate for LuGuentz Dort?
SW: We just look for him to be a leader, play both sides of the floor. He's been through it now, he knows what to expect. There's going to be no surprises.
Even though he missed the latter part of the season last year (at Arlington Country Day) with the elbow injury, he's been through it enough where he knows what to expect going in.
ZS: Which high-major programs have been in persistent pursuit of him and who is showing the most interest as of today?
SW: Florida calls pretty much on a regular basis, their staff. Oklahoma reached out the other day, they've offered as well. Kansas called the other day. So, every day or two it seems like somebody else is saying "hey, this is the type of kid we want to recruit. This is the caliber of kid we want offer.' Baylor's been in touch.
Baylor is involved. So we'll see how this thing plays out this fall and hopefully he has a good year. He's 6-3, 6-4, he's so strong. He gets to the rim whenever he wants, he's just bullish. He gets to the free throw line.
He's just able to manufacture points. It's great that his jump shot has really improved because that opens up everything else for him and for what he does.
ZS: Who do you envision as key role players for this year's team?
SW: Damir Hadzic has transferred here. So we're looking forward to him. He had a really good year for us (at ACD) last year. He's a 6-8 step-out four, who can really stroke it. He's got offers from Florida Gulf Coast, Arkansas-Little Rock, UMBC, and Tennessee Tech. He's got those schools interested.
He's got five or six offers right now. He's a very solid player for us. With Lu and Damir coming back, that gives us a start. We've got a lot of other international kids coming in.
ZS: What style of play will the system be predicated on? Will we see any changes from what you implemented at West Oaks Academy and ACD?
SW: We're going to play fast. We want to score between 7-17 seconds on the shot clock. We want to defend the rim and be aggressive defensively, that's what I've done for 12 years. If I coach for 12 more years, I foresee that as what we're going to do. It always depends on how you're going to score. We want to play fast. We've got a couple guys in the interior who are pretty skilled, so we're definitely going to look to throw the ball inside, feed the post and get some easy points.
ZS: How do you gauge the strength of schedule and in which events will you guys compete?
SW: We're going to Charlotte Hoops Challenge. We're also going to the Mustang Madness in Kentucky. The Charlotte Hoops Challenge will be over thanksgiving. We're playing in Booby Francis' event in Orlando which is a big deal especially because we've got local representation and we're able to stay here over the Holidays.
We're playing the SIAA schedule, to me is top-tier. I've won three state titles in the Independent League in North Carolina. Winning a state title in the SIAA, however, is a monstrous task. This league is very unforgiving. It's brutal. Every night you are going against 7-8 Division-I basketball players. So, you've got guys who have to come in ready to play every night, there's no nights off. It's a great league.