Chris Livingston Q&A

Updated: Jun 11

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 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 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.