Exclusive Interview With VCU commit Marquell Fraser (INSIDER)
VCURamNation: Congratulations on committing to VCU! Thanks for the taking the time to speak with us. Why don’t you start by telling us a little more about yourself? Being in Canada it’s a little bit harder to get exposure in the U.S. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Marquell Fraser: I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario for basically my whole life. I still live there to this day. In Grade 10 I left and went to Mountain Mission School in Grundy, VA and my following year I went to Arkansas to Southwest Christian and yeah, that’s about it. Now I’m back here my last year.
VCURamNation: How was it for you going from school to school like that? Was that tough on you? Were you able to adapt to the culture down south?
Marquell Fraser: My first year at Mount Mission, I won’t lie, it was hard to adapt because that was my first year being away from my family for that long. I’m an independent person so I was able to adapt to it fairly quickly, but it took me a couple of months to get used to everything. Going to Arkansas it was like a huge family there so I adapted to that really quickly. I met a lot of people and built a lot of friendships down there so it was a great experience both years.
VCURamNation: Did you find that those places were very different from Canada when you went down initially? Did you experience any culture shock?
Marquell Fraser: It was a huge culture shock because we were in the middle of nowhere.
VCURamNation: How did you go from Hamilton, Ontario to a place like Grundy, VA? Was that a hook-up through your AAU program?
Marquell Fraser: Yeah it was a hook-up through Dwayne (UPlay AAU Founder and CEO Dwayne Washington). He talked to the coach and we visited and that was that. That was my only option down there, so I decided just to go down.
VCURamNation: Another Canadian with UPlay, Keshon Montague, still plays at Mountain Mission right?
Marquell Fraser: Yeah he’s with UPlay.
VCURamNation: So you’re going to be facing off against a fellow countryman and AAU teammate tomorrow, right? Any trash talk going into it?
Marquell Fraser: Nah. (laughs)
VCURamNation: Going into that game, are there a lot of guys on that Mountain Mission squad that you played with as a sophomore?
Marquell Fraser: Yeah it’s going to be competitive, especially because last year when I was at Southwest Christian we actually played them and ended up beating them. I think it’s going to be pretty competitive.
VCURamNation: We’ll keep it light for some of these questions. These will be quick-fire, short-answer style. Who’s your favorite NBA player? If you’re favourite guy is not a Canadian, who’s your favorite Canadian player?
Marquell Fraser: Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. He’s not my position but my favorite player is Carmelo Anthony. I’ve just always loved his game, at Syracuse, at Denver. I played as him in a 2K game once, I had 12 straight 3 pointers with him. I’ve never seen that (laughs). You can’t stop him.
VCURamNation: How about as far as Canadian players? Who’s your top guy?
Marquell Fraser: You’re going to have to give me a second on that. Whew. #1 has to be Andrew Wiggins.
VCURamNation: If you end up going to the NBA, who do you see your game most resembling that’s already in the Association?
Marquell Fraser: Rajon Rondo or Shaun Livingston I’d say. They get their teams involved. There aren’t many true point guards in the NBA nowadays.
VCURamNation: What’s your favorite food to eat?
Marquell Fraser: I love my Jamaican food so probably Oxtail.
VCURamNation: What’s your background? Are you Jamaican?
Marquell Fraser: My mom’s Jamaican and my dad’s Guyanese.
VCURamNation: We recently spoke to Dwayne Washington last weekend and he’s really, really high on you and your abilities. He really likes your versatility and the way you project as a powerful guard at the college level and beyond. What are your strengths and what are your points of emphasis to improve going into college?
Marquell Fraser: I’d say my strengths are my defense, my passing ability, being able to facilitate, and getting my teammates involved. That’s my #1 thing that I focus on. I try to get my teammates involved before I start to do things myself. My 2nd thing is getting to the basket. Basically I live at the free throw line. That’s the main thing I’m good at. What I really need to work on is getting my 3-point shot more consistent.
VCURamNation: Are you pretty consistent from the free throw line? Do you have a certain percentage you shoot or a range that you’ve shot over your career so far?
Marquell Fraser: I don’t have percentages kept but I’m pretty consistent from the free throw line.
VCURamNation: You said your point of emphasis was your perimeter shooting. How do you plan on addressing your shooting going into college?
Marquell Fraser: I’m already working on that right now with the coaches that I have at The Hill Academy. I put up shots every single day. They’ve already helped me change the little hitch in my shot that I need to work on. It’s a matter of getting in the gym and getting up as many shots as possible. We try to take at least 500 shots a day to get my jump shot more consistent.
VCURamNation: This time last week you didn’t have a VCU offer. You got an offer in the middle of last week, you were on campus in 2 days, and the next day you were committed. It’s one of the fastest commitments I’ve seen to be honest. I’ve never seen it happen that fast. 3 days later you’ve got your NLI in. How did that feel for you having all those things happen in quick succession like that? What ultimately led to you thinking VCU was the place for you?
Marquell Fraser: It was a long, long summer. The whole high school and AAU season was long. I had my list, my final list, I had it broken down and I thought I was going to stick with that list. The list was James Madison, DePaul, Memphis, Georgia Tech, Miami, those were some of the schools in the mix.
There were a lot of schools like Minnesota that were hitting me up saying that they wanted to offer but they wanted to see me play more. They wanted me to wait until the 2nd signing period and not the 1st signing period. They wanted me to wait and then to make a move. I wanted to get it over with because it was kind of stressful. At the beginning when I got my first letter when my recruitment first started off, I was excited. I was happy when all these coaches started calling me. But once it kept going, years later, it started getting a little annoying. I can’t even lie. Your phone is ringing all the time so I kind of just wanted to get it over with.
VCURamNation: At what time did you have that list in your mind when you decided to close it down and try to figure out where you wanted to go?
Marquell Fraser: It was earlier. I wanted to get focused and I think we had a date when we were thinking of committing and I actually really wanted to commit but then a bunch of schools out of nowhere started hitting me up and we decided to push the date back to November. That’s when D thought I was going to sign. I was going to sign to Memphis.
VCURamNation: So Memphis was really going after you? Did they really want you to sign? What kept you from signing?
Marquell Fraser: I had a horrible relationship with the assistant coach and not with the head coach, so that’s why I didn’t really feel comfortable.
VCURamNation: So it was the assistant that was primarily recruiting you and not Josh Pastner?
Marquell Fraser: Yep.
VCURamNation: Dwayne was saying that Rasheen Davis was the point-man on your recruitment. Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Rasheen and what were the things that drew you to VCU through your relationship with him?
Marquell Fraser: He was a real cool guy. He didn’t try to sell me a bunch of lines. A lot coaches say a lot “We can do this for you, we can do that for you.” He didn’t really do that. He just told me that they’d work me hard, that they’d help me defensively. That they thought I could be an impact player on the defensive side of the floor. So I just decided to come down and check it out.
VCURamNation: You took official visits to Bradley and James Madison who many of our fans are familiar with as we played against JMU in the CAA. What were the things that drew you to take officials to those schools?
Marquell Fraser: For Bradley and James Madison they had their head coaches recruit me the hardest. They came every single game. They called me every single day so I thought it was a respect thing. Especially Bradley, I really respected the effort they put in so I decided to just go check them out. That’s basically it.
VCURamNation: How did you feel when you got the offer from VCU?
Marquell Fraser: I was real excited because they fit my game perfectly.
VCURamNation: Did you know a lot about VCU being up in Canada? Were you pretty aware of VCU’s success beforehand? Or was it that you got the offer and then did some research before realizing it was the fit for you?
Marquell Fraser: No before. I knew about VCU before. We always do a little March Madness bracket every March and VCU was always in it, so I was pretty aware of VCU. I knew VCU was a good basketball program, I just didn’t know that they were a full-out defensive team, I honestly didn’t know until I started watching some of their games. I watched them closely. I watched the Ohio State game, I watched the Final Four game and then I was like “Whoa, so that’s what they’re great in, defense”. I like playing with unselfish players who love to play defense.
VCURamNation: A lot of folks are curious as to what you did on your official visit on campus. The biggest question was wondering what you thought of the new VCU Basketball Development Center. What did you think of campus and the new practice facility?
Marquell Fraser: The practice facility, I was speechless. It’s beautiful. It was the nicest gym I’ve ever seen at any University. I never saw anything like that anywhere else. Not even close.
VCURamNation: What else did you do on your visit?
Marquell Fraser: We got the chance to go around the city a bit, they showed us around the campus and whatnot. Got to hang out with the team a lot, we went bowling. We went out to dinner a few times with Doug and the coaching staff and that’s about it.
VCURamNation: How did you feel hanging out with the team?
Marquell Fraser: They’re all family-oriented. They’re like one big family. I really liked it!
VCURamNation: Is there anyone that you hit it off with right away that you could yourself being good friends with?
Marquell Fraser: I’d say Doug.
VCURamNation: What did the staff tell you about their plan for you over the next 4 years as a member of VCU’s basketball program?
Marquell Fraser: They said that defensively I’d be playing the 1 through 3. I could play anywhere on the court so that’s perfect for me. I like that.
VCURamNation: In interviewing Dwayne he actually mentioned that you guarded the 1 through 4 positions for the Canadian Junior National Team. As a guard what is it like to check a 4 when you have guard instincts? How do you guard a guy like that on defense when he’s trying to front you and post you up? How is that different?
Marquell Fraser: Well actually I grew up playing the 5. I was taller than everyone else when I was younger and then everyone really grew (laughs). I was pretty tall growing up though so I started at the 5. I’m used to it. I think that’s going to help me a lot in college because playing the 4 and the 5 when I was younger, it helps me be more physical when guys try to post me up. I already know some of the footwork I need to use to get around them on offense and contain them on defense from going places.
VCURamNation: How was playing for the Canadian Junior National Program? How was that experience compared to playing AAU/HS ball? How was it like playing FIBA rules versus the traditional North American rules?
Marquell Fraser: Actually we play FIBA rules up here so it’s exactly the same. The playing style of the European teams made it kind of difficult. It was hard at first because they like to use their screens but we adapted fairly quickly.
VCURamNation: How have you seen basketball in Canada grow and where do you see it going?
Marquell Fraser: I believe we’re on the rise. Starting off playing AAU in Grade 9, people saw we were from Canada and everyone would say ‘We’re soft’. So every game we had to show them what we were all about. Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, all those guys are starting to make a name for us. Basketball is starting to become big-time in Canada so we’re all working hard to prove to all the guys in the U.S. that we can compete with them.
VCURamNation: What are you most excited about when it comes to VCU? What are you looking forward to the most?
Marquell Fraser: The one thing I’m looking forward to the most? Development. Getting better, bigger, and stronger. That’s I’m looking forward to the most.
VCURamNation: Did you get a chance to talk to fellow VCU commit De’Riante Jenkins during your recruitment or while you were on your visit?
Marquell Fraser: I actually talked to him just a little bit. Just a little ‘How’s it going?’ and asking him what made him choose VCU. That’s about it.
VCURamNation: Well thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with us. We wish you all the best as you embark on your senior campaign at The Hill Academy. All the best on your game against Mountain Mission and we’ll see you at VCU soon!