One of the biggest stock-risers from the E15 Division of the 2023 Nike EYBL Peach Jam was 2026 Deron Rippey, Jr. of New Heights Lightning (NY). In North Augusta, Rippey, Jr. finished top-five in both assists and steals over four games, which included a 30-point showing on an efficient 6/7 shooting from deep over Team Durant (MD). A gritty guard who competes on defense, the rising sophomore was named a finalist after competing against a deep pool of players at the USA Basketball U16 training camp earlier in the summer. Despite not making the team, Rippey, Jr. has the tools to make an immediate impact at Blair Academy (NJ) this upcoming season as he is set to take over the reins of the offense as the lead guard this fall.
In this interview with Pro Insight’s Conrad Chow, Rippey, Jr. talked about his strengths and studying Keyonte George’s game, obtaining invaluable feedback from USAB to help him become a better leader and player, taking Spanish 3 as a freshman, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2026 prospect Deron Rippey, Jr, from Brooklyn, New York:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
Deron Rippey, Jr: My name is Deron Rippey, Jr. class of 2026. I'm from Brooklyn, New York. I go to Blair Academy. I started playing basketball around 8 years old, taking it seriously around 8 years old. My dad was a former Division 1 player. He played at a JUCO level before that. My mom played basketball in high school and my sister plays basketball. I have five sisters. One of them is in college. I have two twin sisters.
PI: With an athletic family, how would you describe the household dynamic?
DR: Yeah, it's a lot of support in the family. My sisters come to my games. We go to my other 18 year-old sister’s games. It’s just a lot of support, you know.
PI: You go by the nickname “Ron Ron” — when did you get that nickname?
DR: I always had that nickname growing up. I don't know why my parents decided to call me that, but they called my older sister, “Nay Nay” — her name is De’Naya, so I guess they would call me Ron Ron because it just goes together, you know?
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
DR: I mean, basketball has always been my main sport, but when I went to junior boarding school in 7th grade, I was kind of required to do other sports, just as a requirement for our credits, I guess. I played soccer in the fall and I did baseball in the spring.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your hoop game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?
DR: I'm a very tough defender. On defense, I'm aggressive. I like to pressure the ball. Offensively, I can make open threes. I can get my teammates open and I'm pretty athletic for my height.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
DR: I noticed that this past year I've been watching Keyonte George. He's a good shooter. He's pretty athletic for his size, and he's a very underrated passer, I think. So I was watching him in the Summer League as well and I saw some pretty good similarities between our games. That's who I am really trying to model my game after to be honest.
PI: What is the most underrated aspect of your game?
DR: Underrated, I will for sure say my jump shot. My jump shot has been improving. I've been putting a lot of work in with my trainer, putting up jump shots and one of the past sessions, I went six for seven on threes so I guess the underrated aspect is coming to life.
PI: What are your current measurements?
DR: As of right now I'm 6’1” with shoes. I believe my wingspan is 6’3” and I weigh 170 pounds.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
DR: Nearing this high school season, my main focus is my jumper as I mentioned before, but also just getting stronger this year. Coming up, I'm no longer going to be the sixth man. I'm going to be a starting point guard and that also means that I'm going to have to get stronger as I have a more important role, so just improving my strength and my quickness and just being strong with the ball to lessen turnovers and stuff like that. Ultimately, shooting and getting stronger, to be honest.
PI: As you transition into a starting role, how would you describe yourself as a leader? What type of leader are you?
DR: My main goal for this year from feedback I got from USAB was taking care of the ball. So using my leadership to make smart plays and value the possession of the basketball. I think that's going to help me take on a good leadership role this year at Blair Academy. Encouraging my teammates. You know, when we get in tough situations where we're down, the other team goes on a run, just keeping the energy positive is something I also want to focus on. And for sure learning how to talk to my teammates better, just encouraging them more, saying “next play,” so that we can just move on and get it right the next time is just something that I want to work on, as well.
PI: What was another takeaway at USAB and who was the toughest individual matchup?
DR: Continue to personally develop. I mean, I think what allowed me to survive there was my defensive effort and my passing. I picked up 94 feet. I pressured the ball, caused turnovers and some of the hard matchups that I had to go through, me, Cayden Boozer, and JJ Mandaquit — we were fighting for the point guard spot. I guess you could say two spots. Just competing with those high level guys who people know about and who are on the radar, it's kind of tough.
PI: Describe your experience with NH Lightning and a memorable moment from AAU.
DR: Most memorable moment…I mean, we were pretty pumped to have the opportunity at least we thought to beat Team Durant by 15 or more. That would have helped us advance to the Elite 8. We actually won that game by 35 and we all played together. It was our best game of the season and so just having that moment to say, “oh, we played together and we had the best game of our season,” which was of course in our last. It was a pretty good moment, even though we thought we were going to advance. We didn't, but yeah.
PI: What is your recruitment update?
DR: I recently received an offer from Washington. I also have offers from Binghamton, Fordham, Hofstra, LIU, Oklahoma State, St. John’s, and TCU. My recruitment right now is open.
PI: Have you had a dream school growing up?
DR: Growing up, I wanted to go to UNC. UConn is up there, Duke, Syracuse, and I'd say maybe Michigan.
PI: Which schools are you hoping to visit in the near future?
DR: I would say St. John's. I want to take a visit there, for sure. It’s New York, New York pride. I want to go to UConn, as well. I would like to take a visit to UConn. Duke, I would like to take a visit there. Syracuse, Oklahoma State, and North Carolina are a few others, as well.
PI: There are a lot more post-grad options available these days with G League Ignite, OTE, and NBL, among others. Have you and your family done much research into those opportunities?
DR: My AAU program took a visit to OTE. One of the guys that is older on the other team, Amari Evans is going to OTE next year. It hasn't really been something that we've discussed. We know about what things like OTE and Ignite hold for players that go there, but we haven't really discussed much about it.
PI: What will ultimately be your deciding factors when making your choice?
DR: I would like to say maybe the opportunity it has for me to take my game to the next level when it comes to the pros. The academic institution as well as you know, Duke is a very high academic institution. It’s pretty high up there right next to the Ivy Leagues. So I would say academic opportunity and also I would say the relationship that the staff has with the family. Like a school that is very willing to have a nice conversation with us, talk about the things that it offers, build relationships with them rather than the school that only reaches out once a month, you know, not checking in. So I would like to say that relationships as well play into the decision.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
DR: Biggest interest, I like to hang out with the guys. Maybe go play ping pong. I like to play ping pong at school, I like to listen to music. I like to take naps. Yeah, that's really it. I mean, I like to throw around a baseball now and then at school. I played tennis this year, which is something that I had to do to get my credits. So those are just little things that I like to do in my free time other than basketball.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
DR: I like Drake, Bryson Tiller, and Playboi Carti.
PI: What are your favorite TV shows, movies, books?
DR: I like Everybody Hates Chris. That's the TV show that I like. Books, I like A Series of Unfortunate Events. I could read that over and over if I really wanted to. I especially like the movie of that too on Netflix, I think they took it off.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
DR: #67. Those are the numbers of the letters of where I come from. The sixth letter is F. The seventh letter is G so I like to use that hashtag on some of my Instagram posts because that's where I come from, Fort Greene — just the initials of the neighborhood that I come from.
PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
DR: My first purchase, it would probably be a house. Yeah, probably a house. Get my parents a new car. I think they both need new cars, so yeah.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
DR: I don't know. That's not something I've really thought of. Maybe clothing. Probably making my own brand would be kind of fun.
PI: Do you have your own logo right now?
DR: No, that's something my dad thought about doing, making shirts and putting our logo on it, but no, we don't have a specific one, yet.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
DR: I hate when people get too close, like up in my face. It’s kind of annoying like you gotta have some personal space.
PI: What is something that most people have no idea about you?
DR: I mean, I don't think a lot of people know about my grades. I'm a very high academic student. I have a 4.0 average. If there was an honor roll at my school, I would be on the honor roll. Yeah, not a lot of people know about my grades.
PI: What is your favorite class right now?
DR: My favorite class this year was Spanish. I'm in Spanish 3 as a freshman. I think I was like one out of two kids in my grade in Spanish 3. I got an A in that class. Yeah, I like Spanish a lot.
PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?
DR: Dream NIL deal…what's that one Jay-Z brand? Roc Nation. Yeah, I like Roc Nation a lot. Nike for sure, as well.
PI: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DR: Five years, I see myself being a professional basketball player, making money, playing basketball which is the thing I love. I see myself taking care of my family and giving back to the youth and the community.
PI: How do you plan to use your platform to benefit others?
DR: Yeah, I just got back from a clinic that one of my friends asked me to do for the kids and they just went crazy, so just doing camps and clinics and maybe hosting a community basketball tournament to bring folks out, maybe workouts and stuff like that just to provide for kids.
PI: Name three words that best describe you.
DR: Driven, dedicated and determined.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
DR: I hope to be remembered as a champion not just on the court, but a champion off the court, like a person that inspired others to be better than him and then on the court, I want to win a lot of championships. I want to be great at basketball. I want to be remembered as a person out of Brooklyn, New York representing Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Just someone who made their dreams come true and inspired others to make their dreams come true, as well. So at the end of the day, I want to be known as a champion.