In a 2022 high school class full of intriguing prospects with impressive physical tools, Chris Livingston has been a staple among the top of the rankings since they started coming out. Right from the beginning of his high school career at Buchtel High School (OH) he was a huge scorer, leading to his representing the USA in the FIBA U16 Americas. Livingston took home both the Gold Medal and won the MVP of the tournament. These past two seasons at Western Reserve Academy (OH) as a sophomore and then back to Buchtel this past season, Livingston has averaged over 30 points per game while excelling at the other aspects of his game.
With good wing size, along with plus-athleticism and strength, Livingston has worked a great deal on his shooting. Known as the highest-rated prospect out of Akron since LeBron James, he appears to have learned a few things from his mentor in terms of energy and intensity on the court. He averaged over 4 steals and blocks per game this past season. He also has a strong ability to get to the basket off the bounce and do damage off the ball. He’s clearly taken a page out of the pro players he has been around and has spent lots of time training and working on his game.
The blue blood schools have kept a very close eye on him for a while, though it seems his recruitment is quite open, even with his love for the close-to-home Ohio State Buckeyes. Playing for We All Can Go (TN), the hope this summer is to get back to playing more of the top-ranked national players and maintain his ranking, if not build on it. With a strong family presence, including his twin brother and teammate in Cordell, Chris Livingston relishes the process and has certainly made some very positive strides to stay near the top of the class.
In this interview, we discuss Chris Livingston’s family background, his work ethic, mindset and approach, his professional basketball mentors, keeping recruitment options open, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Chris Livingston, from Akron, Ohio:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today?
Chris Livingston: I have a really tight-knit family and I’m close with the people within my circle. Have always been close with my grandparents, my mother, my brothers, and my sisters. I have a twin brother as well as two older brothers and two older sisters. Was raised by my mom. I’m from Akron, Ohio, was born and have grown up in Ohio. My grandmother got me into sports and got me playing basketball while my grandfather really helped me along the way. Not with just being a grandparent, but getting me into training, connecting me with people as far as AAU goes, helping me and my brother reach the next level since we were little kids in middle school getting into high school. As far as my high school journey goes, I started off at Buchtel High School on the west side of Akron, it was really major picking that school. I think it was good for the city, us reaching the final four in the state playoffs [that season]. I think that was a really good accomplishment of mine and a great memory that I’ll always remember. My journey didn’t stop there as I went to West Reserve Academy for one year, my sophomore year. It was a really good experience there, but after that I came back to Buchtel High School. I just finished my junior season by making it to the regional finals. That’s a summary of my basketball life leading up to this moment in time. So that’s where I’m at right now.
PI: Aside from your brother and grandfather, any other athletes in your family?
CL: Yes, my sister ran track, my aunt broke records at the high school I’m currently at with track. She was an amazing athlete and went to Kentucky. My older brother played football and my other older brother wrestled. A lot of my family are athletes and it’s something that runs in the family. Not so much basketball, but mostly track. We all were into track to be honest.
PI: Do you play any other sports?
CL: Just basketball, but when I was younger I really fell in love with football. My mom didn’t really let me play it because of the injuries and things that can happen playing the sport. I really used to like football more until basketball, but as time went on I started running track and playing basketball. I was playing basketball and track at the same time, but track season is around when AAU is in the spring so that’s when I had to cut it off and just stick to basketball.
PI: When did you stop doing track?
CL: I stopped at a young age. Around 6th grade is when I stopped doing track because it started getting deep into basketball, AAU, and understanding other top players in the country are traveling and playing AAU. So I didn’t have time for track, but I did spend that summer running with the track team because I went to their practices to help me with my conditioning. I would never have time for the meets because they were on the same weekends as my tournaments so after that year is when I stopped running track.
PI: Which events did you do?
CL: I was fast. I was good at track. I ran the 100m, 200m, 400m, and the 800m. I never really got into running the mile or anything like that, but I was pretty fast when I was younger. I did a little track and field, I can’t really remember all of the field events, but I know I did some high jump and long jump. But I was an athlete ever since I was younger. I did a variety of races, but not the super long distances ones.
PI: What made you fall in love with basketball?
CL: I can’t really explain it, but the people I looked up to and watched when going to games when I was younger...it was just cool to me. It was fun. When I played it, it was always fun growing up. I would be at my grandparents house just watching NBA games and watching highlights. I would get so inspired and just want to have fun and go in the backyard and try to shoot on the hoop because I would see them doing the things that I would really like to do. Basketball has always been something that I love and have always enjoyed. I don’t know if there was a specific moment that made me fall in love with it, but it’s always something I’ve been used to since I was younger and it’s developed over time.
PI: What are your current measurements?
CL: I’m 6’7” 210 pounds. I don’t know my current wingspan.
PI: Where do you get your height from?
CL: My dad was pretty tall, but he wasn’t super tall, I think he was like 6’3” or 6’4”. I know I have some tall cousins, but sometimes it’s God-given. I don’t really have a lot of people in my family that’s 6’7” or 6’8”, but God blessed me with my physical frame and who I am.
PI: You’re a power athlete as well — are other members of your family similar?
CL: Yeah my dad played football, I know that. My brother wrestled and played football and my other brother played football and went to college for it as a DI athlete. It definitely runs in the family. My grandfather boxed and played football also.
PI: For those that aren’t super familiar with your game — what are your greatest strengths?
CL: My greatest strengths, I would start with my motor. I feel like my motor allows me to do a variety of things on the court and adds to my versatility as a player. I’m very aggressive and very athletic and I can shoot it too, so that really opens up my game. Being able to score at all three levels, you’re always a threat no matter where you’re at on the floor. Always giving the coach a headache on the opposing team. I can handle it, I can get to where I’m going to the basket. I can shoot it, step-back, set shot. I’m always going to look out for my teammates since I draw so much attention on the floor. I’m doing a variety of things on offense and I help set it up with my energy on defense. Whether it’s blocking shots, guarding the perimeter, guarding a lot of different positions which is really needed with where the game is today. I really think I’m a versatile player and it helps me out and separates me.
PI: How would you describe yourself as a defender?
CL: I would say I’m always up for the challenge to guard the opposing team's best player. I’m long, so that really helps me out when I’m guarding smaller guards, but I’m fast and quick so that helps me when I’m guarding taller players that match how long I am. As a defender I’m always going to be on the defensive boards. I’m never going to allow teams to get offensive rebounds, those start to change the game a lot. So I’m always a high-level rebounder, I play defense, I block shots. My jumping ability really helps me with that, even if somebody does get a step on me I can catch up to them and get the block, so that really helps my team out a lot.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
CL: I would say just my feel for the game. As I get older and I play more and more basketball, being around more coaches, more people that are going to teach me certain things I feel like my pace for the game is going to get better and better. Me polishing the game up even more. Things like that, certain shot selections, etc. Just my game in general. There’s a lot of things to work on. I can always work on finishing, shooting, ball-handling, things like that. I’m always going to stay in the gym, I know I can always improve. Just me simplifying the game and as I get older I feel like that’s something that will get better and that’s my focus.
PI: What are some underrated parts of your game you feel you don’t get enough credit for?
CL: I would definitely say my shooting ability because my athleticism sticks out to people, but I really improved my shooting ability from my sophomore year where I shot 39% from 3 to this year where I shot 55% from 3. So that’s something people don’t credit me enough for, but it doesn’t really matter, I’m going to keep staying in the gym because I’m not really where I want to be as far as that goes, either. But that’s just one thing people should notice more about my game.
PI: You re-worked your shot mechanics awhile ago — do you feel like your shot is starting to get dialed in?
CL: Definitely. Definitely. More and more reps. More and more hours in the gym. You feel the touch for the shooting is going to get better and better. Only can get better when you’re staying in the gym. But yeah I definitely worked on it and changed my shot when I was younger leading up to high school. So it’s something that’s really keyed in. At this level and the way the game is now, you can’t just be a player who is athletic and ride off of that. Some people might get away with it, but nah. You’ve got to be skilled the way the game is now. You unlock so much more potential when you’re able to shoot the ball so it’s something people should work on daily.
PI: Shooting 55% from 3 is cooking — how many attempts did you take per game?
CL: I would say 3-4 [attempts]. My sophomore year I had more of a green light and I was younger. As I got older I started taking better shots and better attempts. Shots that I know I can make, but at the same time I’m probably going to be more aggressive going to the basket rather than shooting that right there in that moment of the game. I would try to get going to the basket rather than try starting off the game shooting 3s or something like that. That’s where I said earlier, polishing my game up is going to continue to come as I get older. That’s one thing that increased my percentages, being smart with my shot selection and crediting myself with the work I’ve put in at the gym. Always staying in the gym and always getting up extra shots daily. So that’s definitely what’s helped.
PI: What is your training regimen?
CL: During the school season, I would get a workout in right after school, then we’d have team practice, then I might shoot on the gun after practice or even before practice. I’m definitely going to get up shots before a game always, not really much of a workout, but I’ll shoot on the gun or I might workout. Either one. As the season ended and I had more time in the day, I’d do strength and conditioning throughout the day and then I might shoot or train later on. Or I might train at like 1:00 PM and shoot later on around 7:00 PM or something like that. Definitely been in the gym every day, though.
PI: Does your work ethic come naturally or was it something you had to acquire?
CL: I think as a kid you just fall in the game and you want to get better. You fall in love with the results. You fall in love with the journey. Along the way my granddad has helped instill that in me, like taking me to workouts and really pushing me. Showing me what needs to get done and that really helps. When you love something and really have dreams and aspirations to do something you want to invest in yourself. Invest your time into something and really go all in on it. So that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s something I love and something I want to be really great at. So I don’t really mind it, there might be some days, we’re all human and I’m human, where we don’t want to do something as much, but you know you’ve got to get it done. Which is how life is and how life goes. So you just gotta keep your head down and put the work in and the results are going to show. Everybody loves results when you put the work in.
PI: You seem to play with a certain level of tenacity — where does that edge come from?
CL: Just me as a person and my personality. Always been a competitive player. Always been a competitive person. People see that when they’re playing against me or when they’re watching on the sidelines. It’s always just in me and it is who I am. I don’t like losing and I love winning. I just love dominating so it’s definitely something that’s in me.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve ever faced?
CL: Being that I played at USA basketball and playing with the older kids there were definitely a lot of tough matchups that I had. There are people all across the country doing what you do and training like you do. Some bigger, some taller. So I played against Greg Brown III, Caleb Love...they were really good. If we’re including NBA players then Devin Booker. Unfortunately I found myself having to guard him a couple times. D’Angelo Russell as well, I’ve had to guard both of those guys. They’re obviously pros; they definitely know what they’re doing. So it was good to see and watch and be right in front of, so those are some really good people that I’ve played against over the years.
PI: How eye-opening was it to play with and against guys like LeBron James, Devin Booker, and D’Angelo Russell?
CL: I just learned from the advice that they gave me. Just seeing where their work took them and getting to know who they are as people. Just more so them leading by example. I won’t say a specific quote or a word that stuck with me, even though there have been things they’ve said that have stuck with me, but just being able to see them and lead by example and see who they are is something that really stuck with me. To experience being around them and with them.
PI: How did playing against guys like that boost your confidence?
CL: A lot. You get to see something that you look up to and admire right in front of you. You can think about how you measure up or what you need to do to get to where you want to be, but seeing it in person and having your own personal experience with it. That definitely boosted my confidence and is something I always remember to this day.
PI: Describe this past season.
CL: High school season was hard. We actually had to miss some games due to COVID, but we didn’t let it get to us. It was hard that we couldn’t have team camps to build a better bond and have more chemistry leading up to the season, but we worked through it. We had to get COVID tests before every game. I’m really thankful though, to see something taken away just like that we were still able to play and do what we love. So I just feel so blessed we were able to play.
PI: How would you describe the basketball culture in Akron?
CL: It just embodies the basketball culture of Northeast Ohio in general. It’s big around here. The schools, the style of play, the toughness, up-and-down pace. That’s how basketball is here. It’s not really a football area, it’s more basketball.
PI: Do you model your game after anybody in particular?
CL: I wouldn’t say I model my game after anybody, I want to play like me and be me, but there are people who I look up to. I don’t really take from their game or anything like that, but I just admire them and look up to them. I just try to be the best player I can be and see the potential in myself.
PI: Do you feel any sort of weight or specific expectations being a five-star prospect while hailing from the same hometown as LeBron?
CL: If anything I feel the weight and expectations for myself. I don’t really worry about what other people’s expectations are of me. I worked to be in the position that I’m in, so I don’t take it as a negative thing when others are like, “oh he’s got to do it or he’s a failure.” God’s going to be with me in my path and I’ve just got to keep putting the work in and make the right decisions as I keep getting older and keep going. So I think I’ll be alright, I don’t really have too much pressure or negative thoughts towards me.
PI: How much of an inspiration has LeBron James been for you up to this point?
CL: Big inspiration and influence on and off the court. Being who he is and from where I’m from, a small city in Ohio. Him just being an example on and off the court. Being who he is and as big as he is in the world. It’s great that we come from the same place and he just opened up the door and set an example. From him being who he is and reaching out to me and giving me advice with how busy and how much stuff he’s got going on, he’s really shown a lot of love and I appreciate that. It’s always going to be something I’ll remember.
PI: What type of specific advice has he shared with you?
CL: He’s given me a lot of advice with basketball and I just take it in. As I said, him being a role model off the court, leading by example and being who he is. He has given me a lot of advice for on the court purposes and I really appreciate that. [What he’s shared] has really stuck with me and is going to continue to stick with me. So I appreciate what he’s shared.
PI: Talk about the contrast or difference between your personality on the court vs. your personality off the court.
CL: On the court I’m real serious, competitive, and aggressive. Off the court I’m chill. If you’re my friend, we’re close. I’m really goofy to be around and I really like to have fun. I’m a chill person, I’m not really too aggressive or things like that. But when I get on the court I’m very competitive. You know how when some people play sports they’re almost a different person? Yeah I definitely have that to me.
PI: Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?
CL: I’m an introvert, definitely. Have a real close circle. I don’t like being into too much, but I enjoy having fun. I like to just chill and be laid back.
PI: What has your experience been like with We All Can Go?
CL: The experience with them has been big because that’s the first program that really introduced me to high-level AAU. I had my first EYBL experience with them. Being on different circuits and seeing people across the country. The coach for the program really believed in me since I was young and has really helped me along the way and has been there for me, giving me daily advice about working harder, telling me to get a certain amount of shots up a day, things like that. I think the program is a great program and I’m going to stick with them. They really saved my AAU experience. They really broadened my experience with basketball.
PI: With COVID essentially wiping out AAU in 2020, what are you eager to show coaches this summer?
CL: I just really want to show my skill-set and the things I’ve been working on in the gym. I really want to show how much better I’ve been getting over the years. A lot of people haven’t really been able to see me because last year I didn’t have an AAU season and I transferred schools that year, too. So a lot of people that would have seen me at my old high school that I’m back at now didn’t get a chance to see me that year. I feel like this AAU season is really going to bring the media attention and college coaches being able to see my game. Not every coach has been able to see me play so I just want to play my best against any and everybody and want to show what I’ve been working on in the gym, daily. So I’m looking forward to that.
PI: Talk about your experience with USA Basketball.
CL: USA basketball is definitely the hardest, but best basketball experience I’ve ever been a part of. I say that to everybody all the time. From the mini-camps, training camps, to the actual tryout for being able to be part of the [FIBA U16] team. I feel like they help you get better on and off the court with how they teach character. Things that they teach that don't really have to do with shooting a basketball. It’s really helped my journey in life. It’s helped me as a player. The coaching and the people around the program. The different experience I had while being on the team and being outside of the country and stuff like that. I just loved it. I loved it. I don’t know when it’s going to start back up again, but it’s definitely the hardest, but best basketball experience of my life.
PI: How eye-opening of an experience was going to Brazil and playing in the FIBA U16s?
CL: It was a lot of fun. It was a business at the same time, but it was fun and is something I’m always going to remember. Just seeing the people from outside the country, how they look at USA basketball players, the fans out in Brazil. Being able to play different people and see their styles of basketball, whether it’s from Argentina or Mexico, just getting to see different players...it broadens your view of basketball and makes you appreciate it even more — that it can take you to places like that just from being able to play the sport. It was something that was really fun for me and I really appreciated being a part of it.
PI: What’s the number-one takeaway you’ve learned from your experience with USAB?
CL: One takeaway is at the next level it doesn’t matter how good you are. It’s equally as important with how good of a person you are. Whether that’s how you approach the game of basketball or how you approach life in general. Just being the type of person you are is going to take you a long way because basketball is going to stop regardless whether you like it or not. No matter what you achieve in basketball you still need to be a good person and have a lot of integrity and just be humble as your journey goes on. They really teach character as a program at USA Basketball.
PI: Who did you room with? Who was your favorite teammate?
CL: I was real close with Jalen Duren, I roomed with him when we went to Brazil. In the mini-camps I was rooming with AJ Casey, Jaden Hardy, Richard Issacs, so yeah those are some friends that I was with and rooming with. When I was in Brazil I was with Jalen Duren, Amari Bailey….I was in his room a lot, Dillon Hunter, and Jabari Smith. I was with those guys a lot and we had a lot of fun.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
CL: I really really want to win the state championship in the state of Ohio. That’s one short term goal.
PI: How about as a person?
CL: Just being a better person daily. That’s really a life question, but I want to be the best person I can be every day no matter what situation I’m in or what affects me with life in general. I deal with stuff off the court too, so I always want to be the best version of me always and forever.
PI: How about long term?
CL: I really hope I have the opportunity to be an NBA player. I really want to reach my goal as a professional playing the game of basketball because I know it can take me a lot of places. I know the love that I have for it wouldn’t allow me to stop so I just want to keep pursuing my dreams and keep going. Off the court I think that goes hand-in-hand, because when I have a goal I want to achieve it. I just want to keep being the best version of me, keep maxing out my God-given gifts. I really want to reach my full potential as a player and as a person.
PI: What are some things you bring to a team off the court?
CL: I bring maturity and a vocal leadership to a team. I feel like my teammates can really take from what I do as a person, me being a good person. But they can also take from my work ethic in practice and things like that because I’m always going to push my teammates and be on them. I’m really vocal when I get in the mode, when I’m locked in I make people feel me. I bring leadership to the team, coach on the floor, and a versatile player.
PI: When did you start to get noticed on a national scale?
CL: I would say the 8th grade. That’s when you’re playing AAU, but also the CP3 camp happens and that’s where all of the top 8th graders go. Everybody was there, I didn’t see 7-footers in my grade [before]. I didn’t even know that was in my grade. That’s where I really did good and LeBron actually took notice and posted me on his page and a lot of people took notice of who I was. That’s when people start taking rankings a little bit more serious around that time so I feel like 8th grade is when it started getting super serious.
PI: How did your life change after that?
CL: I would say on the court it changed with people knowing who I am so they’re really trying to come at me and bring their best. So that’s something that’s changed since then. It’s opened many more doors and opportunities. I’ve been getting college scholarships for what I’ve been doing on and off the court. Having the experience with USA Basketball, things like that. As time has gone on many blessings have come with it, but you’ve got to keep putting the work in and many blessings are going to come. So ever since then there have been many opportunities with basketball that I’ve been involved in.
PI: How have you dealt with all of the attention?
CL: At one point it was something I had to get used to, but when I was younger I never wanted it to get to be too much. Because a lot of people got a lot of attention in high school basketball that ends up being a lot. So I just really hope I’m ready for whatever attention I’m getting, but I think I’m ready for it now and want it now. It’s something I’ve got to grow into as I get older. So I feel like I’m ready for that now, but when I was younger I didn’t really want too much of that. I just really wanted to focus on what I was doing. There are definitely a lot of people who have to deal with a lot of attention on and off the court as far as basketball goes in terms of publicity and media.
PI: You seem pretty level-headed for being such a highly-ranked prospect, is that something that comes naturally?
CL: I wouldn’t say it comes naturally because that’s why a lot of people are in this position. God puts people into certain positions when they’re ready to deal with certain things. For me I think it was how I was brought up, the way I was raised, and the people around me in my circle preparing me and showing me life lessons of how to be off the court. Just me being the person of how I was raised, this is how I am.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
CL: Recruitment has been a good process. I’ve been building good relationships with great coaches who really believe in me as a person and my game. Great coaches who are really established people. So I’ve been building relationships with them which is good, but I’m looking forward to the next step as far as taking visits to colleges I have offers from and others that have shown interest in me. COVID stopped that, so I haven’t been able to take any visits or anything like that. So I’m ready to take that next step.
PI: Who have you been hearing from the most lately?
CL: Forgive me if I leave anyone out, but I know LSU has been reaching out a lot. Tennessee State, Georgetown...I talk to the Georgetown coach a lot, he’s a great person. I talk to Kentucky’s assistant coach even though they haven’t offered me. I know they have some high interest. I talk to Memphis a lot, they send me film. I talk to the Iowa State and Ohio State coaches, have been building a relationship with them.
PI: Who have you been relying on for guidance throughout the recruitment process? What advice have they shared with you?
CL: I haven’t really been cutting down a list or anything like that so I haven’t really had to talk to my family about it yet too much. So far it’s been me, just building personal relationships with the coaches, talking to them daily or weekly. It’s really been me in the recruiting process right now, but college coaches do reach out to my mom or my grandpa personally as well. They’ve been building relationships of their own, as well.
PI: What are some of the consistent messages colleges are sharing with you when recruiting you?
CL: Just being on me. Just being real with stuff, trying to get to know me as a person and showing off their program. What’s special about their program and what separates them. Oh yeah I forgot to mention earlier, the University of South Carolina has been reaching out a lot. They just tell me what separates their program and then just regular conversations.
PI: Did you have a dream school growing up?
CL: I didn’t really have a dream school to go to, but I have a habit of rooting for teams from where I’m from. If I’m watching the Olympics I’m rooting heavy for USA, I’m from Ohio so I really like Ohio State football and basketball. It’s something I have a habit for, just being where I’m from, so that’s who I rooted for. I remember having an Aaron Craft jersey when he was in college. I remember those days when the Harrison twins were at Kentucky, that’s when I really watched college basketball. I really rooted for Ohio State back then.
PI: What are you ultimately looking for in a school of choice?
CL: I’m looking for their values in the player, how they can help me. I know that they believe in my game because they offered me, but also how they can help me off the court if they really believe in me. Really want me to see me succeed in life in general. Looking for how they run their program on the court. The type of players that succeed in their program. Where it’s located. If I could succeed there as a player and as a person or not. Just want to succeed at the next level no matter where it is. Always on my mind. Always thinking about the future.
PI: What kind of system do you feel best fits your strengths as a player?
CL: I feel like I’m able to play slow-paced half court or fast-paced, but I really like fast-paced basketball. I feel like fast-paced really fits my game, I’m really good on the fast break, I can get out and run and score in transition. That’s something that fits my game I feel like. Grabbing the rebound and pushing coast-to-coast is something I’ve been doing since I was in 5th grade, so I like fast-paced basketball. But I can slow it down and get in the half court if that’s what the coach requires or that’s the game plan, but fast-paced basketball is always fun.
PI: How would you see your role at the next level?
CL: I see myself as a Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum type of player. I see myself as a wing who can guard multiple positions and be a scorer while being a two-way player at the same time. I feel like my athleticism really helps me with that. I’ve always been a scorer when I was younger, but I can definitely get other players involved from drawing all that attention. As far as my playing style goes I feel like I can fit those roles as I get older. I don’t know if I can get taller or something like that, but that’s how I see it for right now.
PI: Is going the G-League or alternative pro route something you’d consider in lieu of college?
CL: Definitely. I’m definitely considering any way to help me in my future. I’m always thinking about other options, whether a college doesn’t want to offer me because they think I’m already set on a certain college. I’m completely open to all recruitment because I would love multiple options. I would love to be blessed with that to really help me make my decision to where I want to be at the next level. Whether it’s the G-League, college, or overseas, I’m definitely looking at all types of options and seeing how I can better myself and put myself in the best position to win.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
CL: I would define it in one way because that can be a broad answer depending how you look at it. To me, it’s when you achieve a goal from something you worked at, I’ll put it like that. Because that can show yourself that you’re successful because you put the work in and you achieved it. People love results. And it can also show other people that you’re successful because they’re seeing you put that work in and achieving your goals. So that’s success to me. A positive result.
PI: What do you personally feel you’ll need to accomplish in your career in order for you to become satisfied?
CL: I want to feel success, but not satisfaction because I feel like satisfaction can put you in a bad place even if you are in the NBA. People are NBA players and they make it, but I want to be a really good or great NBA player. I don’t want to be one that makes it and coasts. That might be good for some people, but some people might have a lot more potential they can unlock and be so much better than what they are. So for me success is getting to that next level and being good or great at that next level.
PI: What would you say is the smartest purchase you’ve ever made?
CL: I haven’t really made too many purchases, but I would say probably my favorite type of shoes to wear on the court. That’s probably one, but I haven’t really made too many life decisions or choices yet, so probably some shoes. My favorite pair or shoes I like to wear on the court. I like Kyrie’s a lot, I like how they fit. I wore a specific type of Kyrie shoe throughout the whole summer because of COVID I wasn’t going anywhere I was just training in the gym so I just kept those with me in the car or just brought them with me every time I worked out.
PI: Do you have a favorite book?
CL: I like The Great Gatsby. It’s really deep and I like the movie. I’ll say that, I like the book and the movie. You learn so much about life, loyalty, happiness, things like that. It gives you a lot of life lessons. There’s also a lot of action that goes on with it. I really like the storyline that goes into it. I like the movie because of the way stuff plays out. I’ve watched the movie a couple times, but I just recently read the book alongside the movie. I’m not big into reading, but that’s one book I really like to sit and read. I like the storyline and things that are going on. It teaches you about life and it really resonates with you.
PI: Talk about your most embarrassing moment.
CL: As a basketball player you never want to get dunked on, but I’ve been dunked on before [laughs]. So that, definitely. The first time I got dunked on was Peach Jam at EYBL. That happened my 8th grade year and I was playing 15U with the 9th graders and I got dunked on. That was big because there was a big crowd there and stuff, so that was one of my most embarrassing moments.
PI: Talk about your favorite all-time memory on the basketball court.
CL: I could say one of my favorite experiences which was going down to state. Being able to compete for a state championship is great no matter what state you’re in, but it means a lot in Ohio. Just the culture, how it is, and the school I’m at. That’s a big experience that I wish I can have another chance at and one thing I really loved and enjoyed.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
CL: I’ll say people who complain in the gym really get on my nerves [smiles]. I’m not just trying to say that, but especially when I’m locked in and I got my teammates like “oh we’re at practice...or we gotta do this or we gotta do that” that really gets on my nerves. I have a lot of pet peeves, I’m really a to-myself type of person. There are a lot of things that irritate me, but that is one thing, just not having an engaged teammate. We all have those days where we don’t feel like doing something, so I feel for it, but when I’m locked in and somebody is not locked in with me that’s something that really gets on my nerves.
PI: Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your life up to this point?
CL: I will say my mother because growing up, we didn’t really have a father around. She was always the one in the household that ran the show, that showed me about handling business and taking care of things that matter. I have a lot of role models and a lot of people who have helped me along the way, but that’s my mom. I love her and always look up to her. Always going to be my role model so that’s one that I can say.
PI: Would you say you rely more on your natural talent and ability or on your work ethic?
CL: I would say talent and ability can only take you so far. That’s something that will last you through middle school to be honest. Probably not back in the day, but especially how the game is evolving. How these kids are nowadays, what you see kids doing in the 8th grade, people dunking and stuff like that. You got to have a skill-set in high school and especially in college. That’s something I may have relied on in the past, but now it can only get you so far to be honest.
PI: With your brother Cordell being a prospect himself, how does he push you to improve?
CL: He’s my twin brother so we’re always in the gym every day so we know what we’re trying to achieve and what we’re trying to do. It’s not like he’s saying vocal things like, “you’ve got to do this or you’ve got to do that.” We just support each other. Always working with each other. We know what we’re trying to achieve and the task that’s at hand. We just push each other just from being around each other.
PI: Who’s someone you really look up to?
CL: I’d say someone I really look up to is LeBron. Being where I’m from, his work ethic, and who he has become, us being from the same place, stuff like that. Even if he was from somewhere else, he’s still LeBron James. He’s always been a role model and someone I’ve looked up to. He’s really helped me along the way, helped my love for the game. Seeing someone like that really inspires you as a person.
PI: You mentioned your Grandpa Joe was a professional boxer in his youth, what type of example has he been for you?
CL: He can be looked at as a father figure in my life. A lot of people have played that role as far as coaches and mentors that I’ve had, but as I’ve grown older he’s always been there teaching me about life, what a man should do, things like that. Helping me working with houses, fixing stuff, building stuff, how cars work, stuff like that. He’s always been pushing me as far as basketball goes too, always been pushing me. He plays a major role in my life and I know he has pleasure doing it too. [He knows] the amount of work you should put in, how to take care of your body. He knows a lot of stuff and has a lot of knowledge, and has lived for a long time. Played sports, was dedicated to a sport, and was very talented at a sport. It’s really appreciated, that I have him in my life to show me the ropes with basketball.
PI: Talk about a time or story in your life that you feel has really shaped who you are today.
CL: I couldn’t say a specific time, but it’s a multitude of combined experiences in my life. Whether it’s my household, things I see when I go to school, certain teams I played for growing up, sports I played growing up, they’re all combined. I wouldn’t say there’s a specific time that shaped me, but just my environment shaped me to be honest with you.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
CL: One of the best [pieces of] advice is “working hard even when you don’t feel like it.” That’s really resonated with me because that applies to life in general. You don’t get better off of “oh I’m just going to go to the gym today because I’m really motivated and feel good” because you’re not always going to feel like that, but if you can develop the mindset to want to do something or to get better even though you don’t feel like it, you’re tired and you have a thought in your head of “maybe I don’t have to do this right now I’ll just chill and lay down,” will you do it anyway? That’s where you develop the habit of just work and just getting better. We can always get better off the times when we feel like we want to get better, but have to really fight through the mindset of “nah I don’t really want to do this right now” and that’s something that’s really stuck with me as the years have gone on. Just getting better even if you don’t feel like it. On your off days, good days, or whatever. Just always getting better regardless of how you feel.
PI: Who shared that advice with you?
CL: My trainer Reggie Lewis out of Cleveland shared that with me. A lot of people have shared that with me. I know Trey Lewis, he’s a pro, he went to Garfield Heights High School in Cleveland. Tony Snell, when I went to the run with D’Angelo Russell and Devin Booker, he was one of the many pros that was there and he took me to the side and he told me that. He just told me about getting shots up. He treats it like a job obviously because he gets paid for it, but if I really want to get there I’ve got to keep doing it every day. Those are the days that are really going to make you, shape you, and mold you into who you are. Just having that work ethic. That really separates people. That’s the separation because some people won’t put the extra work in when they don’t feel like it, but when you don’t feel like it you’re doing it. Anything extra can help, so that’s the separation not just with yourself, but with other people. It’s a competition with each other.
PI: How have you handled and responded to adversity in your life?
CL: I always try to see the good in bad situations and just keep it moving. Even when I’m wrong or make a mistake I always try to do the best that I can to humble myself and make the apologies that need to be made and keep pushing. I’ve always been taught that. It hasn’t been my strong suit always, but it’s something I try to continue to get better at. Just dealing with things not always going my way. Not taking things personally, but just taking it, understanding it, seeing the good in it, and just keep it moving.
PI: You had an experience in the FIBA U16 where you slapped the ball, got ejected, and were benched the following game — how was that a teaching moment for you?
CL: The head coach at time told the story best at the camp...he actually shared the story at the following mini-camp as an example of adversity and perseverance. Me being on one of the biggest stages and being with one of the biggest people I knew with basketball at time time. They know a lot of people and can reach out to a lot of people and tell coaches who I am and how I act. So I’ve really got to act [correctly] and be on my best behavior with them. So being that I messed up like that I really felt bad, but I didn’t want to wallow in it. I was going to learn from the experience and have it mold me. The light at the end of the story is I actually earned my way back onto the team after missing a couple games and actually won MVP. Not to say that I just dominated or I’m that good of a player, nothing like that, but the moral of the story for me is, after my adverse situation, after losing my temper and getting in trouble at the highest level possible at that age and persevering through it and still coming out on top at the end and winning a gold medal with the team is always something I’m going to remember. It’s always something that’s going to resonate with me in life not just with basketball. So it’s definitely something I learned from.
PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
CL: I’m not dumb enough to splurge or something like that, but I would try to invest into something to double or triple it. Obviously I’ve never had that type of money and I want to make sure the people around me are straight if I were ever to get that type of money. I would triple it and then probably go shopping. I would think about getting a house for a family member or something like that too, but probably just investing it first. Trying to get more because when you get lucky with something like that you just want more and more. People see results and they just want more of it, so that’s what I would do.
PI: What are you most passionate about outside of the game of basketball?
CL: The people around me. Most passionate about my friends and my family and the people in my life. That’s what I’m most passionate about outside of basketball. I love chilling, being happy with them, and making sure they’re straight. That’s something that’s always on my mind and is always something that’s going to be there with me especially when basketball is over. My loved ones will be with me, regardless.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
CL: Ever since I was younger I’ve loved art and I love math so I would want to do something in architecture. I love art and math. I like the idea of architecture, building stuff, mapping things out, creating, etc. That’s something I really enjoy.
PI: We hear you’re quite the artist. Can you share a little bit about that side of you?
CL: I’ve always been an artist since I was younger. Not the typical artist who just likes drawing things, but I would be younger and just take anything and make a football out of it or a fridge or whatever. I just like creating and building. That’s something I’ve liked to do since I was younger, just making items out of things around the house. I just like creating stuff and being a creative person, but I also do like to draw. It’s always been a part of me.
PI: We know if you were to play another sport professionally it would be football — describe your love for it.
CL: I would like being a wide receiver, I like running and catching the ball. I would either want to be a wide receiver or a tight end because I know my size would make me more of a tight end. Or maybe a corner, playing defense. I always liked football, I’m kind of familiar with the teams and the history of it. My favorite team is the Patriots before way back when. Never really been a Cleveland Browns fan, but they’re doing better now so I’m rooting for them.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
CL: Smart. Confident. Intentional. Chill.
PI: If someone were to write a book or a movie about your life, what would be the title?
CL: I’m such a chill and basic person I would just want it to be my name [smiles]. I couldn’t really think of it, so many things have happened in my life so I don’t know [laughs]. Just probably the title of my name, that could show some insight on me too, just a chill type of person. I don’t really have a grand name or something I can say, so I’ll just say that.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
CL: Who I was and how I made people feel on and off the court. I want to be remembered for being a great teammate, people really enjoyed being around me and being my teammate, just wanting to be on my team, wanting to play with me, me making them better, me making them enjoy basketball even more, helping them with their experiences in life, etc. So I just want to be remembered as someone that went hard and played hard. Really showed my full potential and the gifts God has given me to play the sport at such a high level. I just really hope to unlock my full potential and show people what I’m really made of. I don’t want anything left on the court in the end, I want it all out there. Like a Kobe-type thing, it’s hard to reach that level, he put everything into basketball. That’s true dedication. I’d like to leave a legacy behind, not just memories of like “he was just some guy who played basketball,” but I really want to have a legacy of what I’m doing. I really think about that a lot.
Watch the full interview with Chris, here