Daeshun Ruffin has established himself as one of high school basketball’s most electrifying scorers over the last couple of years and really cemented that status after becoming the top scorer in the 2021 high school class during the 2019-20 EYBL season. The diminutive Ruffin, who claims to be a definite 5’10 to quell size concerns, has quickness and athleticism that helped him create the separation needed to average 25.8 points for MEBO (MS), last season. Playing for adidas’ Next Page Force (AR) more recently, Ruffin has continued to flash deep pull-up range and a handle that allows him to create for himself, and others, in a multitude of situations.
More than just a scorer, Ruffin has also shown improvement in terms of running a team. He also has the lateral quickness and energy to defend the ball full court, racking up steals along the way. The elevation he gets on his jump shot along with his skillful footwork really stands out at this stage, and while he makes plenty of tough shots, he also has the ability to get himself and his teammates easy baskets that should allow him to make an immediate impact in the SEC.
Deciding to stay at home at Ole Miss, Ruffin is set to be the highest-rated recruit for the Rebels since 2010 McDonald’s All-American, Jelan Kendrick. Another name that comes to mind when observing Ruffin is recent Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody, who led the SEC in scoring in 2015-16 while twice being named all-conference. Ruffin racked up multiple prestigious high school honors last season, including the Gatorade Player of the Year in Mississippi. He is currently ranked #38 in the 247Sports composite rankings, making him fourth among point guard prospects.
Mentored by a former Callaway High School (MS) grad in Malik Newman, Ruffin is working on getting college ready and is preparing for a long basketball career. In this interview, he talks about his process, players he studies, his take on the top point guards in the country, what went into his recruitment process, winning a state title, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2021 prospect Daeshun Ruffin, from Jackson, Mississippi:
Pro Insight: We recently saw you perform very well against high level talent at ‘Who Wants the Smoke’ in Dacula, GA. How did you feel about your performance?
Daeshun Ruffin: I felt great about it. Coming into the game, we knew we had great competition in front of us and had to come ready to play. We had a few practices to get ready and we added a new player (Trey Alexander). I felt good going in and felt good after.
PI: What went into your decision to play with Next Page Force this summer?
DR: I spoke with my high school coach and we felt like it would be a good idea to try out another circuit like the adidas circuit. We figured that this team would be the best fit for me. I just wanted to branch out with my options and try to see everything. I had been on the Nike circuit for two years, and I wanted to play on another circuit.
PI: Can you share a bit about your family, where you’re from, and your background prior to getting to where you are today?
DR: I’m from Jackson, Mississippi. Right now, I live with my mom and my stepdad. My dad is in the picture. We talk every couple of days. Most of the time, I workout. In my free time, I like to chill and play video games.
PI: What do your parents do?
My mom is a hotel manager. She checks people in and washes rooms. My stepdad has his own mechanic shop fixing cars.
PI: What does your circle look like?
DR: I have an older brother and a little brother. I have a younger sister and two older sisters. For friends, I mostly hang around people that I play basketball with. There’s a couple of guys too that people that follow me on social would know. My circle is very tight. There’s not too many people in it.
PI: Did any of your immediate or extended family members play sports at a high level?
DR: Not at a high level. My dad played basketball in high school.
PI: For those who don’t know about your game, could you describe it a little bit? What are your greatest strengths?
DR: I would describe my game as electric. Some people call me a bullet. My game consists of flashiness, deep range shooting, and shot creating. My strengths are scoring the ball and being able to run the team and get others involved. That’s what you’re getting out of me every night.
PI: What are some things you can improve on?
DR: I would say the mental part of the game. I feel like I have every part of the physical game down. If I can help myself understand the mindset of the game and all of the tricks of the game, I feel like I can be one of the greatest.
PI: What’s the most underrated part of your game?
DR: I would say my ability to run a team. I know I’m a very high scoring guy. I feel like if people gave me the opportunity to run a team, they’d be shocked at how well I can run a team.
PI: How have you managed to continue your development throughout this global pandemic?
DR: It’s been hard. In my state, Mississippi, they’ve been shutting down gyms. It was hard. My AAU coaches have helped a lot by putting on practices in different states. I can say that is probably what helped me get my rhythm back and helped me play like I have been.
PI: Do you model your game after anyone in particular?
DR: I wouldn’t say “model my game” after anyone in particular. My game has a lot of players’ special abilities. There’s a couple players who shoot the ball well and I try to mimic getting open like them and rising up like them. I wouldn’t say I mimic my game after one person but my game has parts from a lot of players.
PI: Who are some of the players you pull from?
DR: Kyrie. Some of Russell Westbrook. I think there’s some Damian Lillard inside of me. I really see Damian Lillard. I’ll go with him. A guy I’ve been studying for a long time is my hometown great, Malik Newman. I’ve been studying him for a minute. It’s helped my game a lot, working out with him. I’d say Malik is probably the most influential one to really help my game. He teaches me everything. Little tricks on the offensive end.
PI: What is the best advice Malik Newman has given you?
DR: There’s a couple things he tells me on the court. He’ll tell me I’ve got to do this or that, or I have to make sure I do or don't do certain things. He’s like a brother.
PI: Of all the opponents you’ve played, who has been the toughest to match up with?
DR: It’s probably between Zion Harmon and Scoot Henderson. Or JD Davison. There’s a lot of them so it’s hard to pick one. I’ve seen a lot of the guys. All the top guys have been tough for me, but I’m sure I’ve been tough for them. There’s mutual respect both ways.
PI: How would you rank the top-five point guards in the country?
DR: Me at #1. Scoot Henderson. Kennedy Chandler. Zion Harmon. JD Davison. That’s a crazy list.
PI: Why do you wear #24? Is there a story behind it?
DR: It’s not because of Kobe. When I first started playing basketball I would wear number 2. When I got to fifth grade I had to pick a number I could stick to with my name on the back of my jersey. My coach gave me 24. I played for the Lakers team in fifth grade so that’s where the name “Next Kobe” came along. I have been 24 since fifth grade. It doesn’t really have a meaning. When people talk about me they talk about “2-4.” It just stuck with me.
PI: What are your short term goals?
DR: Graduate. Make it to college. Not a lot of people make it to college where I’m from. I want to make it to college and make it out of college.
PI: How about long term?
DR: Hopefully being an NBA great, in the NBA Hall of Fame. I just want to be successful to take care of my family.
PI: What do you need to specifically work on in order to reach the NBA?
DR: The mental part of the game. If I understand the tricks and tactics to get easy buckets without tiring myself out, if I figure that out I feel like there’s nothing that can be in my way.
PI: How would you address an NBA GM that may have questions about your size?
DR: I’d give them the honest truth. I’m not 5’9”, I’m 5’10”. It could be a tough task for a coach to coach. It can be easier for another coach to coach against. I understand that. I can just tell the GM that I promise I’ll give 100% every night and then it’s on him on whether or not he takes a chance on me. I hope he does take a chance on me.
PI: You were originally committed to Auburn. What changed your mind?
DR: I talked with my family, coaches and support system getting an understanding of the program and how I could benefit the program and how they could benefit me. We decided that going to Ole Miss was the best fit for me and could help me get where I’m trying to go.
PI: What ultimately made Ole Miss the right place for you?
DR: It was the home feeling. I’m a home guy. I don’t really like being away from home. We figured that being more than 3 hours away was going to be hard for me to do. With me being the family guy that I am, we just put that into place and looked at other things within the schools I had options of going to and decided Ole Miss was the best place for me.
PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball? What are the biggest takeaways when you watch?
DR: I haven’t really been watching any recently. It’s not the same competitive atmosphere that it used to be. I’ll watch a little of both every now and then if somebody I like is playing. Otherwise, I’ll watch highlights.
PI: Who do you look to and use as a model for success?
DR: Different guys. I look at LeBron when it comes to trying to be successful. It’s LeBron. He’s successful on and off the court. With doing what I’m trying to do, you have to do it on and off the court. Whoever took any kind of step to where I’m trying to go, I’m taking something from them.
PI: Who would you say has influenced your life the most up to this point?
DR: My mom. No doubt. She gets up early mornings and has been doing this twenty years-plus, sacrificing for me.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
DR: I can’t pick. There’s a lot of people that threw some charms at me. One piece of advice that is always going to stick with me is, “whatever you do, do it for God.” That’s something my mom taught me and it sticks with me.
PI: What do you love most about the game of basketball?
DR: Everything. It’s a beautiful game. I love everything about it. All the dunks and layups. I love everything about it.
PI: Was basketball your first love?
DR: My mom was my first love but basketball is in there.
PI: What’s your all-time greatest memory on the court?
DR: Winning a state championship for my high school. It was tough. We really didn’t even get to enjoy it, but it was something we had really been fighting for. Especially my seniors, they had been fighting for four years and with me being a junior, doing it for them together, it was a bittersweet moment. Most of the seniors were my childhood friends. Doing it for them and then getting to go home and hang out together, it’s just a great memory. I know that will make us stick together forever.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
DR: Chill. Happy. Funny. Paranoid. I stay paranoid. It’s a home thing. There’s a lot of things going on in the city. You have to stay paranoid. You can be paranoid of a lot of other stuff that goes on where I live. I don’t go to parties. You have to move smart. I try to move as low key as I can.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life? Why has it stuck with you and what have you learned from it?
DR: When my niece was born and her dad got killed. That was a moment that changed the way I acted, how I do things, and what I indulged in. That’s something that made me who I am today. She’s four now, so that was four years ago. I don’t know too much about it, but that’s at least one of the top-five or top-two moments that define me.
PI: What is your biggest passion outside of the game of basketball?
DR: Probably playing video games. I love to play the game. When it’s not making me mad, that’s my passion. I play 2K, Madden, Grand Theft Auto. I’ve been playing Mafia 3 a lot, too. I’m a PS4 guy. I don’t do the Xbox.
PI: Are there any other hobbies you have outside of basketball?
DR: Not really. I like music and playing the game. If I’m not playing basketball, you can catch me laying down or at home or something.
PI: If you were going to do anything other than basketball for a career, what would it be?
DR: That’s crazy. I don’t know. I’d probably try to play football. It would have to be something fun.
PI: Did you play football growing up?
DR: Yeah. I played like three seasons. I did score every season. People try to say I’m trash at football, but I wasn’t. I just got knocked out a couple times, but I was actually decent. It was on a kick return. I tried to hit the sideline and thought I was home free and then the dude just came in and hit me. Then I didn’t play anymore. Well actually, I came back and played safety on defense. I think I was like 10 or 11. That was 6 years ago or something. I didn’t actually get knocked out, I just got hit pretty hard.
PI: Tell us something about yourself that most people have no idea about.
DR: That I’m a funny guy. I try to hide my sense of humor around people I don’t know. I have a sense of humor. I can be a comedian, sometimes.
PI: Describe what you imagine your life will look like 10 years from now.
DR: Hopefully I’ll still be alive by God’s grace. Hopefully I’m successful. Whatever I’m doing in 10 years, I just want to be successful. Hopefully, it’s playing basketball, but if it's not, if I’m able to take care of my family, I’ll be okay.
PI: At the end of the day what do you want to be remembered for?
DR: I want to be remembered as a great guy on and off the court. A hardworking dude who did things for his family.
PI: Is there anything you’d like to say on the current events in today’s world in light of all the attention on our country’s history of racial injustice, systemic racism and police brutality?
DR: I do stand up for Black Lives Matter. Us as black people, we go through a lot of things that other races don’t go through. If we stand up together, we’ll be able to get through this.
Watch the full interview with Daeshun, here