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Getting to Know David Mager

As the travel basketball season has finally come to an end, we here at Between The Lines Sports are happy to reintroduce our Q&A "Getting to Know....." and we are pleased to High 2022 Shooting Guard from Dwight-Englewood in New Jersey David Mager. David is an under the radar prospect that we believe college coaches should take a look at, so with no further ado lets get to know David Mager.

Q: So, David, tell me a little bit about your upbringing, where you live, and what you're doing now that the AAU season is over.

A: I live in Englewood, NJ. But I was born in New York and lived in New York for the first six years of my life. I went to school in the city up until about 7th grade, and then in 8th grade, I went to Dwight Englewood, and I've been there ever since

Q: I know you played with Team Rio this past summer. Has that been your team throughout your high school career?

A: Yeah, I've been playing with Rio for the past three years since about 15's.

Q: Last year was the Covid year. We played a lot of AAU down here, but I know you didn't get a lot of opportunities up there. What was it like getting back to the grind of the AAU season again?

A: It was good because my 15's year was probably the last time we had a real AAU experience. With 16's, we had these outdoor tournaments that were towards the end of the summer. We probably only had two or three of those, and they really didn't mean anything. 16's was the year we would have played in the live sessions, so this was really the first time I got a chance to play in front of many coaches. We had like 50+ coaches watching at our first game, so that was the first time I was exposed to that.

Q: I saw a couple of games when you guys were in Atlanta, and I think you've got some game, and I think you have the ability to play at the next level. What do you think your most vital attributes are right now as a player?

A: Right now, I would say shooting and getting to the basket. I ride my jump shot a lot, but I can score in various ways, and I'm athletic, which helps on the defensive end.

Q: What's your vert measurement?

A: The last time I measured it, about three or four months ago, it was about a 40-inch vert.

Q: As a shooter, are you better at shooting off the catch or the dribble?

A: It doesn't matter to me. I like shooting off the dribble, and I like shooting off the catch. I do a lot more catch-and-shoot in AAU as opposed to in school, where I'm probably shooting off the dribble more. In school, they do scouting reports, so I'm really not getting any catch-and-shoot jumpers. But I can do either one.

Q: I remember when I was playing, if I was thinking about a shot off the dribble, it always came to me in rhythm, and I was playing within the flow of the game; it would always feel better on my release. Does one feel better than the other, or does one happen more subconsciously where you're just playing, and you don't have to think about it?

A: I guess off the catch is a little more in the flow of the game. I'm able to create my own shot, but anytime you can get somebody to drive in and kick it out so you can hit a three, it feels way more in the flow of the game.

Q: I met your dad in Atlanta. It seems like your whole team has a huge support system, and almost everybody had someone there. Who would you say your overall support system is as a basketball player?

A: Yeah, my dad came to like all the games at the live sessions. Definitely, my Dad and My mom is always on the live streams watching every game. Then I have a sister, and she supports me too. Outside of my family, I have a couple of trainers and mentors. My trainer Jason Cole is always mentoring me and telling me what changes to make.

Q: What kind of things does your trainer encourage you to do? Does he watch your games and give you feedback on the things you do well and the things you don't do well?

A: He'll give me feedback and tell me what he sees from his perspective and point of view. Then I look at it, take what he says, and put it into my game. Another person who helps me out a lot is Rick Barry. He's been mentoring me since I was like ten years old. He's watched a couple of my games, and he'll tell me a lot of detailed stuff like you played well today but get your shot up a little higher and hold your guide hand and follow through. Then if my dad ever catches me watching when the ball goes up, he'll tell me to crash the boards and stuff like that. He's very detail-oriented as well.

Q: Right now, you're still in summer. Are you working out? Are you training? Are you just chilling now that AAU is over? What does a typical day look like for you?

A: After July, I got home, and I took about four days off because we were traveling and playing a lot, but now I'm back to my regular summer routine. For the past four or five days, I wake up at 7:30 and work out at 8:00 with my trainer. The workout is usually shooting off the dribble and off the catch, going to the hoop, and ball handling. We do that for two hours, and then I get a lift in with him for about an hour and a half. We're usually done by around 12. I also just got some new Normatec recovery devices for my legs. They have a cryo-chamber at my gym that I use it when I finish working out. After that, I go back and rest, get food, and hang out with friends. If I'm bored, I'll go back to the gym and get shots up again.

Q: Who's in your inner circle of friends? Do you have the same friends as when you were a kid, or do you have high school and AAU friends?

A: I surround myself with people who are on the same path as me. I try not to be around people who are out drinking and doing drugs and other stuff like that. I hang out with a lot of other basketball players because I want to be with people I can relate to. It's cool too because I was with my friend Jaden the other day, and we ended up going to run hills and got shots up after. So, I'm always hanging around people on the same path as me and have the same goals. That's something that's important to me.

Q: That's a very mature answer. A lot of players now may be good, but they may not have a love for basketball. A lot of them want to be popular in basketball as opposed to being good at basketball. Where do you think that maturity that you have comes from?

A: Honestly, I think it just comes from my love and passion for the game. People like you said like basketball because of the attention they get or the Instagram followers they get. I love playing basketball. That time on the court is fun for me. I'm in love with the game, and I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. I think that's where it comes from.

Q: How would you describe your game?

A: 6'4". I'm primarily a two-guard, but I can play the one. I'm a shooter. Very athletic. I can get to the hoop and make plays for my teammates. I'm doing a lot in school, so I'll have games with 25 points and 8 assists or something like that because guys are so focused on me. It's easy for me to dish and get my teammates involved.

Q: Who do you compare your game to?

A: Devin Booker and Zach Lavine are two guys that I watch. I don't want to compare myself to them, but those are two guys who I try to model my game after.

Q: Would you say that you're a coachable player?

A: Definitely. When a coach tells me something, I'm able to retain it. I learned at a young age from being coached by Mike Rice to listen to what coaches are saying rather than how they're saying it, and the message will get through.

Q: What has your experience been like with Coach Rice?

A: I met Coach Rice when I was 15. He normally didn't coach us because he was coaching the 17's, but he started coaching the 17's and 15's together. I remember the first time I met him; he just ripped into me at practice. Then he coached one of our games for 15's. I didn't have a great game, and I think I hurt myself. He talked to me on the sideline and put me back in the game. I don't know what it was, but it just lit a fire under me. We were down four, and I got three steals in a row or something like that, and we ended up winning. Mike talked to my dad after the game and said, "I said some real mean stuff to your kid and then he went out and won us that game." I think that's kind of where I gained a little bit of his respect because of how I responded to his coaching. He's hard on you, but you have to listen to what he's saying, not how he's saying it. He's been a Division-I coach for 20+ years, so he knows what he's talking about. My experiences with him have been good, and I think he's a great coach.

Q: That's great that you can be coached like that because not everybody can. Sometimes it's about the message and not the delivery. People can't always be calm and pat you on the back when you're in the heat of the moment.

A: A lot of the other coaches that I've had in my life would say, "David you're doing great, good job," but they wouldn't tell me straight up how it is. That's why I love Mike because he tells it how it is, and he's not afraid to hold back. He describes it how it is, which makes you better as a basketball player and person.

Q: What motivates you in basketball? Is it to be the best you can be, get to college, or make it to the NBA one day? What is your overall motivation in basketball?

A: I would say to get to the NBA. That's everyone's goal when they're at the age of five. They always want to play in the NBA. In the short term, I want to graduate high school, be a good Division-I basketball player, have a good college career, and then hopefully play in the NBA one day. What motivates me is that I love the game and want to be the best version of myself.

Q: Can you elaborate a little bit on why you love the game? I think loving the game is like loving a person. If you asked 10 people why they love the person that they love, you'd get 10 different reasons. So, there's no correct answer, but try and explain why you think you love basketball.

A: My grandfather played in the NBA, and my dad played Division-I. So right from the start, I was already born into a basketball family. I played basketball when I was eight or nine, but I wasn't super into it. I was doing other things, too, like taekwondo, and I also played soccer and baseball. I would say I really started to take it seriously when I was 12 or 13. I don't know what it was. It was just a switch that went off in my head, where I realized I want to be great at this. This is something I really want to be good at.

Q: I'm a firm believer that the ability to overcome adversity, whether it's something related to basketball or something off the court, helps mold people to be able to handle different scenarios. Is there anything you have faced on or off the court that has helped shape who you are right now?

A: At a pretty young age, I was diagnosed with some learning disabilities. So, I had to go to a school that would help me out with that and helps me cope with that. It's something that I have overcome. It doesn't go away, but I've gotten over it and learned how to deal with all of it. Now I am successful in school, but it was something that I had to work through because I was behind a lot of other kids. I was reading late, and that was hard for me. But I've overcome it.

Q: What gets you going if you're on the court and you're not in the mood or not in the right mindset? What makes you tick on the court?

A: There have been 30+ high-major coaches watching the past couple of games that I have played in. So, if I'm not hitting shots or something like that, I think to myself, look, there are people here watching you. You want to give them the best impression you can. I don't want people to leave the gym thinking, oh, that kid's average. He's not this; he's not that. If you're going to have a bad shooting game, I want them to think he went 0-8 from three, but he went 100% and gave his all. I think that's what makes me go. I don't want to be average. I want to stand out.

Q: I agree with you on that. I think playing hard is such an under-appreciated skill set. Some kids may be more wired to play hard, but it's the one thing that everyone can control. No matter what you do well, you can always play hard. I've talked to many coaches over the past year, and that's the one thing they talk about the most. It's one of those things that they notice right off the bat. Even if you go 8-8 from three, they know that 8-8 isn't always happening. But if they can always depend on you to play hard, that will get you on the court more often than not.

Q: You're going into your senior year. What are your goals for this upcoming season?

A: We have something here called the Jamboree, which is kind of like the state tournament. So, I would say my goal is to win the Jamboree. We had a shortened season last year. We were supposed to have three games, and then someone on our team got Covid. I was 50 points away from 1,000 and was going to get it in those next three games. Our season got shut down. So, another goal is to hit 1,000. Then I was on track if we had an entire season to be the all-time leading scorer, but at this rate, I think it's kind of impossible.

Q: Talk to me about college. Have you heard from any colleges yet? Has anybody offered, or have you gotten any interest from any schools yet?

A: I'm talking to all the Ivy's right now. A lot of the Ivy's have been in the mix. I also spoke to Hofstra and Marist.

Q: Do you know what you want to major in?

A: Not exactly. I took visits to Dartmouth and Colgate, and when I was on my Dartmouth visit, they told me about the majors that a lot of the athletes take. For me, it depends on what school I go to and what their best major is. I'm willing to do anything that fits me. I'm just waiting to see where I end up, and then I'll decide after that.

Q: What do you like to do? Is there something that you think you'd be interested in doing as a profession after basketball?

A: If I had to choose, it would probably be business.

Q: What are you looking for in a program?

A: I'm looking for a place where I can fit in athletically and academically and a coach that believes in me and will give me an opportunity.

Q: What can you bring to a program?

A: I think I can bring somebody in the gym every day working hard and somebody who gives 100% on every possession. I think I can be a leader on and off the court.

Q: You've mentioned it a few times, and you can kind of read between the lines, but what are your grades like?

A: I think I have a 3.4 GPA right now. So pretty much A's and B's.

Q: Would you rather hit a game-winning shot at home or on the road, and why?

A: I'd rather hit a game-winning shot on the road because, in high school where I'm at, the crowds are always great every time we come in to play. They're always chanting and yelling stuff at you, so I'd rather hit a game-winning shot on the road to silence the crowd and everyone who was talking crap all game.

In conclusion, I would like to thank David for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions. I look forward to seeing his continued growth as a basketball player, and we're excited to see him progress this season and where he'll ultimately end up for college. We encourage David to stay focused on his goals, keep the same mentality that has gotten him this far, and keep your circle tight. And lastly, when you step in-between the lines make sure they remember your name!

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