With the success of the G-League Ignite program during its inaugural season, there was no doubt that they were going to get some of the top prospects in the 2021 high school class. The first prospect to officially get on board for this upcoming 2021-22 season is Mike Foster of Hillcrest Prep (AZ), who was named a McDonald’s All-American and will be playing in the Iverson Roundball Classic this weekend in Memphis. At 6’9 with top-notch strength and scoring versatility, Foster certainly has physical tools and skills to build on.
With plenty of experience with USA Basketball and loads of reps facing top players in his class, Foster stands out with his ability to stretch the floor and score around the basket, regardless of the competition level. Where the G-League will truly help will be in polishing his decision making and defensive identity. Having also considered Georgia and Florida State, along with other professional offers, Foster seems to be a big man that the Ignite can really help develop into something special.
In this interview, Michael Foster breaks down his decision, his background, his time with USA Basketball, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2021 prospect Mike Foster, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
Pro Insight: What were the most important factors in your decision to sign with the G-League?
Michael Foster: It was all about the development for me. I want to be the best I can be on and off the court and the G-League is probably the second best league in the country. You’ve got the NBA, which is the best, but the G-League is like the little brother. It’s all about the development for me, though.
PI: Who did you turn to for guidance during the process? What sort of advice did they give you?
MF: I’ve got my mentor Chianti Clay, he’s like my father figure, dad from a different mom, however you want to say it [laughs]. But he’s like my father figure. Everything that goes by me goes by him. He’s an adult so they talk to him more than they talk to me, but everybody knows he tells me everything. So we sat down [and discussed] what was best for me, best for my family, where do I want to be in the league, and that’s all that went into it.
PI: What set the Ignite apart? What separated the G-League route from the rest of your options?
MF: Like I said it’s development. If you’ve watched much the last two years, college has been iffy. People getting sat out because the coaches don’t like how they’re playing or they aren’t playing up to their potential that the coach wants them to play to. It’s a lot of stuff going on in college and I don’t want to be one of those kids who goes to a high major school and sit one year then I’ve got to transfer and can’t play that year and now I’m all over the court with “Mike Foster this, Mike Foster that” so I didn’t want that on my name so that’s why I chose the G-League. Plus, that’s better for me and my family.
PI: What was their most consistent message to you throughout the recruiting process? What did they try to convey?
MF: That they’re going to make me a pro, man. That’s my dream right there is to play in the NBA. They talked to me and prepped me about work ethic and I feel like my work ethic is unmatched. So with their development skills and my work ethic I feel like the sky's the limit for me.
PI: Are you recruiting anyone else to come play with you?
MF: Nah, I don’t know about that. I don’t think I have the power to do that, yet [smiles]. I don’t got the clout like that. I’m gaining it though, but it’s not there yet.
PI: Which parts of your game do you need to improve over the next several months in order to ensure success at the next level?
MF: Of course I’ve got to stay in the weight room, stay well-conditioned because like they said, the NBA is a whole different pace. Whole different league and ball game. So I’ve got to stay ready and push myself more than I have.
PI: Can you tell fans a little bit about your background?
MF: I started playing my seventh grade year, really eighth grade. I came into the gym not knowing what college basketball was, I was just one of those kids just waking up going day by day. Around ninth grade I got serious and I got my first offer. Then I saw how good I could get. My mentor Chianti Clay, he believed in me the first time he ever saw me play. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing he was like, “he can run and has a good motor. That’s a good start, we can teach him the basics and everything else.” Once I saw I was getting better, getting good, and could go head-to-head with top guys, that’s what made me push myself even harder. I was a kid who didn’t know what he wanted to do in life, so this right here is a golden opportunity. In 10th grade I went to USA [Junior National Team minicamp], which woke me up a little more. In 11th grade I was conference player of the year and in 12th grade I came out to Hillcrest Prep and that put me in a whole different game. Ever since then it’s just been up for me.
PI: What sports were you doing prior to picking up a basketball in middle school?
MF: I was more of a football guy than anything, but once basketball came into my life and I grew, I had no choice but to play ball.
PI: Talk more about your experience with USA Basketball.
MF: USA was a good opportunity for me, they have a good learning program. They coach a lot of pros so they aren’t doing anything but teaching us the foundations of how to be a pro...what to do on and off the court and trying to be a big mentor to us.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
MF: One of the greats. I want to be a Hall of Famer.