Hondo: It amazed me when I talked with one of the people from AP’s home about you. It was very complimentary of you, but they thought you gave AP too much space. Nice that they love you but at the same time I bet you’ve never heard yourself called “soft” before.
Izzo: Well, I can take that criticism. But I will say this… It’s a little different in this modern day and age from the standpoint of when I did look at different jobs, I called the same people he did…Steve Smith, Magic Johnson, Eric Snow, Mateen Cleaves, Jud Heathcote. I did my homework and he asked me to do his. It’s a funny about the NBA and the NCAA. Agents are allowed to call players but general managers aren’t. So coaches have to get the best information they can get. Now as you’ve known throughout you get people that get on you about, like you’re trying to hold players back. So you really gotta be careful on what you say and do. I will say this… Whether that guy knew it or not, I gave AP my opinion. It was an educated opinion on the information I was handed, and that information was handed by different NBA people. Not outside people that maybe had an opinion, not really an educated opinion. It’s very difficult. There’s a very broad opinions on where you are in the draft, you know? …39, 25 to 37. It’s very vast. It’s not really honed in on exact fortified picks. It still is a tough decision but I can promise you that I let AP know what I thought of what I got. Did I tell him you have to stay or however you said it? No, I didn’t tell him that. If I would’ve done that maybe that one party would have been happy, but I can tell you 30 other parties that wouldn’t have been. So I tried to do it the best way I could do it. I did not just sit back and say I’m cool. I can’t promise you that either. Because I kept telling him, AP I’m not in the contract. You have to do nothing for me. This is all about you. But I was convinced by the NBA people that too many kids are leaving for a cup of coffee in the league and really the only way you make it is if you stay in the league. To stay in it you’ve gotta give yourself a best chance. That was the information. Could he have been a first round pick? No question. Does he give himself the best chance to have a career in the league and fulfill some other important goals which he stated? There’s no question about that. So I can understand where he was coming from, but there’s a lot of different… When you’re head coach you gotta look at a lot of different factors, recruiting and this and that. What I said at the end is, AP I’m gonna tell you what I think is right and why. And that’s what I did.
Hondo: Having gone through what you did with the Cavs and the way that Hollis backed off and told everyone, Leave him alone. It seemed to me you learned from that and you were different with AP because of that. Am I reading it right?
Izzo: You know Hondo, that was one of the neat things about going through a tough deal myself. I sat him down in my office a week ago and I said, AP you can talk to agents and I can talk to general managers. We can talk to your high school coach and I can talk to my NBA players. We can go through all this stuff, but no matter who talks to you, nobody’s been through this to help you more than I have. Because I had an opportunity of fulfilling what is every coach’s lifetime dream, to coach in the NBA. I had to make some tough decisions. And I took a little more time than I would have liked to or people would have liked me to. But I had an AD that understood; he had a basketball coach that understood. I had people wanting to know what I was gonna do; he as a player had people wanting to know what he was gonna do. My mind was going from good to great; his is going from nothing to good, maybe even financially and everything else. I tried to look at what would make me the happiest and the best over the long haul. That’s when I told him I understand what you’re going through. Here’s where I made my decisions, here’s the things that work for you or against you. I just thought it really helped me to help him. It was one of the rare times when I could look him in the eye and say, I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. I’ve sat in that same chair with my AD across from me. Mark Hollis was unbelievable in how he helped me. Lou Anna Simon was unbelievable in how she helped me. I was lucky. Mark Dantonio came over that last day. I had a lot of good people not telling me what to do, helping me make a decision, but giving me their opinion because I asked it. I think a player is less apt to do that with a coach. Because if one guy tells him what he wants to hear they’ll start to look that way. That’s why it was important that his people from back home came up. I will close this part of this question by saying this: They all said, Boy I wish his grandmother was here. I think he even tweeted, I wish grandma was here. I started laughing and said, If grandma had to pick between academics, maturity and all this, over dollars, you’re losing brother. Because I know how grandma was. So even though he may have wished for it I don’t think it even would have taken as long if grandma was around.
Hondo: You heard me say at the press conference that grandma said to me, If he doesn’t get a degree I will kill him. People think I’m kidding. She was that blunt.
Izzo: And she might kill Adreian and the coach too, by the way. We were both in trouble.