Photo credit: Zach Fleer
It’s been a long time coming: 6-foot-9, 220 pound forward Derek Funderburk is one day away from making his EYBL debut. The highly touted junior from St. Edward high school in Ohio (ESPN No. 49) committed to hometown Ohio State University last week, and he’s ready to turn his focus 100 percent to his King James Shooting Stars and the upcoming EYBL season. Funderburk sat down with Alec Kinsky to discuss his thoughts on the EYBL, his teammates and the decision to attend OSU.
Alec Kinsky: Talk about the opportunity of playing in the EYBL. What are you most looking forward to?
Derek Funderburk: Well it’s great finally reaching the biggest stage of AAU basketball. I can still remember playing local tournaments with a team called “Friends 4 Life” and thinking this is it, but now I’ve been exposed to the EYBL and it’s opened my mind to a whole new level of play. I’ve knocked out my college decision, so school is handled. So all I’m looking forward to is building a bond with my squad, making them and myself better, and most of all winning Peach Jam.
AK: EYBL is a whole different ball game. What would you say is your best skill?
DF: It’s scary, because I do a lot of things very good, to the point where I don’t have a ‘best feature.’
AK: Any aspect of your game you’re looking to specifically improve this season?
DF: Ball handling, strength, shooting and basketball IQ. I’m just trying to find out where my teammates are on the floor and where they like to cut.
AK: Speaking of teammates, who do you expect to have a coming out party this spring?
DF: Xavier Simpson. He is the best point guard in the country hands down, and I think he’ll show that this year.
AK: You mentioned your commitment to OSU earlier, how excited are you? You know, they have 9 EYBL alumni on their roster this year and their entire 2015 class is EYBL alums.
DF: I’m very excited to join OSU. I want to make history there and elevate my game. And that’s CRAZY.
AK: Anybody in particular you are looking forward to run against this year?
DF: Nobody in particular. I’m going at anybody who doesn’t think I’m better than them or anyone who doubts me.
AK: Who has been your biggest influence for you on and off the court?
DF: My dad and my head coach. Also my USA coach Eric Flannery.
AK: How does your dad help you on a day-to-day basis?
DF: He just keeps me motivated and reminds me why I’m almost ready to pass out in the gym every morning and night. It’s because I set goals and told him I what I wanted to do. He told me when we start, we won’t stop.
AK: Any individual goals for the upcoming circuit?
DF: Just get my name out there and make my teammates better.
AK: What do you plan to major in at OSU?
DF: I’m really not sure yet. I’ll have that figured out by next spring.
AK: What was the deciding factor to go to Ohio State?
DF: It wasn’t one, it just came down to how much I loved the school, the coach and the campus.
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