Updated: Jun 11, 2022
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team minicamp returned during the 2022 NCAA Final Four weekend in New Orleans, LA. The minicamp serves as an opportunity to evaluate players who may be deserving of an invite to training camp for the FIBA Americas and FIBA World Cup teams in the summer. This year’s group consisted of 46 athletes from the high school graduating classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025. Over the course of three days, the invitees took part in on-court drills, scrimmages, and educational workshops at the New Orleans Pelicans’ Ochsner Sports Performance Center and Caesars Superdome.
Pro Insight was in attendance for the Saturday morning practice and caught up with Kanaan Carlyle of Milton High School (GA) and The Skill Factory (GA). Carlyle, a five-star guard in the class of 2023, chose Stanford over Auburn, Baylor, Florida, and Kansas earlier this year. The 6’2'' combo guard is a two-way threat who brings constant on-ball defensive pressure, contagious energy, and scoring off-the-dribble. He possesses elite athleticism and foot speed while making the right reads as a lead guard. In this final AAU season, Carlyle and his TSF teammates Marvel Allen, Isaiah Collier, Scotty Middleton, and Arrinten Page have their eyes set on competing for a Nike EYBL Peach Jam title.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Carlyle highlighted the importance of his family and faith, his synergy with Marvel Allen and Isaiah Collier, his commitment to Stanford, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Stanford commit Kanaan Carlyle, from Alpharetta, Georgia:
Pro Insight: Congratulations on the selection to the USA Basketball Junior Men’s National Team April minicamp. What's been your impression of the minicamp?
Kanaan Carlyle: I mean, it's been great just being around all the top players in the country, learning from each and every one of them. They all got something that they do well and me just being here is a privilege and a God blessing. So I mean, just taking stuff from them and just inputting it into my game. It's amazing.
PI: Who have you enjoyed playing with this week?
KC: It ain’t Marvel. Uh uh. I don’t like playing with Marvel (sarcastically). But nah, it was probably between either Jared McCain or David [Castillo] 'cause they both [are] great point guards who love getting players involved, very controlled. So I mean, it was fun playing with them.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths?
KC: I like bringing energy whether that’s scoring 30 or just playing defense, I pride myself on my defense. Everybody can score. All top players can score 30 at any point in the game, but not all of them want to play defense. Not all of them want to lock in on D, so that's what I take my pride in because that's gonna separate me at the next level — so just defense.
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and your family.
KC: Me [and] my family, we [are] big in our faith. We all believe in God. We go to church every Sunday. But my dad and mom, they just been pushing me ever since I was little just to be different and be great one day so you know, I pray to God one day I can make the league and take care of them where they don’t have to work no more. Take care of my uncles and grandpas and grandmas where they all don’t have to work no more hopefully one day and my dad always told me to be a dog. Don't let nobody change you. Don't let nobody… never be nothing different from you, you know what I’m saying? So like it’s just me wanting to be great one day keeping me pushing.
PI: And you grew up in the Georgia area?
KC: Yeah, I'm from Georgia, born and raised. I’m from [around] Mableton, Georgia so by like Pebblebrook and all that, that’s where I’m from. Just living down there, I mean, it's tough down there. So that's just…me playing with grown-ups my whole life, that's kind of just why I play so hard cause we gotta make our own with grown-ups. They [are] not gonna give nothing to you so that's why I play hard like I can now.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
KC: I didn’t start playing basketball until I was like nine or ten [years old] 'cause I mean my dad was training me in football. He played quarterback at South Carolina State so he was training me from playing quarterback and safety most of the time, but that's where I started at football.
PI: Some of your TSF teammates are here — how would you describe your connection with those guys?
KC: It's been amazing, just because you know me and Zay [Isaiah Collier], have known Marvel [Allen since] 7th/8th grade. I mean 'cause like we [have] all been close so I would say what's up, but just getting a chance to play with him now is great 'cause last weekend even though Zay ain't play, I got a chance to team up with Marvel. I mean we all got great energy around us. We [are] all unselfish. We all want to play with each other. We all know each other's roles. We know me and Marvel will lock-up on defense. We know Zay is gonna run the point and score the ball and get us involved. So we know we all just got that connection where we could just play together.
PI: Besides winning Peach Jam, what are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
KC: My short term goal is just to prove everybody wrong. I just got to prove…‘cause with me going to Stanford, I got to prove to everybody I can play point guard. Prove to everybody that I could be consistent from 3. Just proving everybody wrong and showing everybody that I've been working all summer.
PI: By the way, congratulations on your commitment! What was Stanford's coaching staff reaction when you told them?
KC: Man, it was crazy 'cause me, my dad and mom, we were just sitting in the house. We [were] like “I'm gonna go ahead and commit today” so we called them. They were all in the room. Say I was committing [and] everybody started screaming and running all over the school (laughs). So I mean it was great. It was a great experience. They’re a great coaching staff and I can't wait to go there and play with them.
PI: Obviously, Stanford is known for its academics — what do you plan to study?
KC: It will probably be business just so you know…me, hopefully I’ll go to the league so I gotta learn how to be able to take care of my own money and just be able to build up my business one day after basketball. So that's my plan.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
KC: Be you. That's 'cause you know, now on social media everybody’s gonna try to change you. Everybody's gonna try to say, “you need to be this, you need to be that” but my dad, all my family just be like “just be you” 'cause I'm different. I'm always [going to] be different. I'm not gonna let nobody change it for nothing.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
KC: #Dog. Always. Ever. Forever. I’m a dog. Never gonna change.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
KC: Energetic, crazy, wild, and cerebral.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
KC: As a person, just being a great person and being a person where everybody could come to me, talk to me, we can all laugh, have fun. Just being an all-around great person and basketball, just me… I'm just praying that I'd just be as great as God wants me to be. As long as I can fulfill His goals for me, I'm good.