“I am the Best Player in the 2016 Draft”
As the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled into town, another rookie took some time in becoming a part of BallnRoll’s Rookies Digest. Khalil “Kay” Felder at just 5’9” was the shortest player in the 2016 NBA Draft. The three year player out of Oakland has climbed up the mock draft boards, trying to make a name for himself while proving doubters wrong along the way as he carved a path for himself to find an opportunity on the NBA level.
A Michigan-native, Felder took a less common road to the NBA. Not heavily recruited as a high school prospect, he went to play at a lesser known school, Oakland, where he slowly developed into one of the best offensive guards in all of NCAA basketball. In his junior year, Felder averaged 24.4-points per contest, good for fourth in the nation and the led the nation with 9.3-assists per game.
The athletic point guard is a scorer first, demonstrating an explosive first step and excellent ball-handling, which he uses to make his way to the rim where even at his size, he can finish exceptionally. Most of his damage is done either in the paint or from mid-range, as his three-point ability is still a work in progress. Defensively, Felder is just as impressive, he does a great job in harassing is opposition and has quick hands to poke the ball out of their hands.
The NBA is definitely no Oakland, but Felder may be one of the more slept on players in the entire draft. After impressing mightily at the draft combines, he was selected 54th overall by the Atlanta Hawks, moved to the Cavaliers that same night.
Now that he finally has his opportunity on the NBA level, the sky is the limit for the self-proclaimed “best player in the 2016 Draft”.
Felder: Oh man, it’s amazing because they just have so much knowledge. LeBron has been in the league for 10-plus years, Kyrie has been in it six-plus, man it’s crazy because they can help me out a lot going forward in my future.
BallnRoll: You had a prospect video done with Bleacher Report, you called yourself the best player in the 2016 Draft, you scored more than the top two picks and led the nation in assists, how do you prove that on the NBA level, how do you take that forward?
Felder: Just being myself, being aggressive at all times. I spoke those words because I believe it. I know I’m the best player in this draft. I have great teammates and great veterans around me that help me be myself.
BallnRoll: Now, what’s more difficult? Less minutes with an amazing surrounding or more minutes, or is it a combo, what do you think?
Felder: It’s all great because you have guys you can learn from. Yeah, you are behind them, but if they help you, they will have a major impact on you – on your future. They have been great to me and it’s going to be a process. I’m not getting too up or too down about it, I make sure I stay neutral in this position and make sure I learn as much as I can.
BallnRoll: You spent three seasons playing for Oakland, it’s rare. Most people are jumping out as fast as they can. How has that helped you with the transition to the NBA?
Felder: Oh man, being there for three seasons in O.U. it’s been very helpful because guys like Marshall, Keith Vincent, Reggie Hamilton, and all the O.U. legends that come back and help me with my game and tell me how Kampe’s system works and Kampe was there the whole time since Oakland has been DI and further. That knowledge helped me out.
BallnRoll: 5’9”, you are the shortest player in the draft, what do you tell other people at your size and how has it motivated you to keep focused and strong with so many doubters out there?
Felder: It’s not about the size, it’s all about heart. I have a big heart. I don’t think I have any organs or intestines, things like that, I have just a big heart inside of my body and that’s what I’m running on. Just believe in yourself, don’t get down. Doubters are always going to be there, there’s always going to be someone telling you, you can’t do this, but they can’t judge your heart and the hard work that you put in. That’ll help you go a long way.
BallnRoll: You have been praised by many in the basketball world, one guy in particular, this is great, Tom Izzo said you were one of the best player to play at the Palace of Auburn Hills where you dropped 37-points, nine assists against the Spartans. How do you feel being a college player being lauded by one of the best college coaches ever?
Felder: Oh man, that’s the greatest compliment, I remember having a couple conversations with Tom Izzo before I went off to college and while I was in college and he’s just a great guy. Every time I’ve seen him, you know, he’s a hall of famer and that’s unbelievable and speechless.
BallnRoll: Is there any other pressure being on a team that’s trying to repeat? Does it feel different, do you want to be a part of it? How are you controlling that aspect?
Felder: I am controlling the emotion, just asking questions, seeing how I can get better on and off the court, just seeing what role I can fill on this team to help out whether its cheering guys on, making the right passes, making the defensive stop or something like that when I do get in the game, but most important, I just make sure I keep a high spirit and I want to show that my spirit is always high, all the time.