Chicago's point guard supreme looks to 'fit in perfect' with Tigers
By Dan Wolken
April 6, 2007
In the six months between his visits to Memphis, Derrick Rose made his college decision, was the subject of a feature story in Sports Illustrated, led his Simeon High team to an ESPN-televised victory over Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, won an Illinois state title and watched his future teammates come within one game of the Final Four.
But the biggest thing on Rose's mind lately has been ... summer school?
For Rose, arguably the top 18-year-old point guard in the world, it's down to counting the days until he enrolls at the University of Memphis. Though there's still more than two months left before his first summer classes, Rose said Thursday he was excited to get a preview of his new hometown during the 2007 Nike Hoop Summit at FedExForum.
"I was anxious to get back here. I couldn't wait," Rose said. "When I was on the plane and the pilot said we were landing, man, I couldn't even sleep. I knew I was getting closer. I can't wait to just get down here for summer school and get to know the area and meet the fans."
With each passing day, Rose gets a little bit closer to a debut Memphis fans have been anticipating since he gave an oral commitment to coach John Calipari last October.
After an intensely scrutinized recruitment in his hometown of Chicago, Rose picked Memphis over Illinois and Indiana. The impact of that decision cannot be overstated. The minute Rose's letter of intent paperwork arrived in the Memphis athletic department, the Tigers immediately became one of the favorites to win the 2007-08 national championship.
Six months later, nothing has changed. Unless a current underclassman declares for the NBA Draft -- that seems unlikely at this point -- Rose will join a team returning almost intact off an Elite Eight appearance. Most early top-25 projections for 2007-08 have the Tigers at No. 4 behind Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA.
"Man, we should be up there," Rose said. "The way they played this year, the way they played as a team. The whole year, they got it done and I was cheering them on."
Now, Rose must get ready for the transition from cheering for the Tigers to joining them.
Given Rose's considerable talent and athletic ability, that likely won't be much of a challenge. "I'm going to fit in perfect," he said.
The bigger issue is how Rose will enjoy college life in an unfamiliar place. Before he arrived Thursday with the USA Junior National Select Team, Rose's only exposure to Memphis was a quick two-night official visit during Midnight Madness.
Rose, who got his first tour of Memphis from sophomore Antonio Anderson, said he wasn't worried about fitting in.
"It's like a small part of Chicago," Rose said. "I'm a city boy, and this is kind of like the city in Memphis. There's a downtown, and I like the players. I know they're going to get me right when I come down here."
Rose won't get that chance quite yet. After this weekend, he'll head to New York for the Michael Jordan game before heading back to Chicago for his final weeks of high school.
Though Rose is far from the only attraction on a U.S. team with future stars like O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley, he's hoping Memphis fans make him feel even more at home by Saturday night.
"I hope it's crazy," Rose said.
Tickets: $10 (lower bowl), $20 (courtside), $40 (floor) and $75 (floor). Available at the FedExForum box office, Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com or by calling 525-1515.
Memphis All-Star Classic: A game pitting teams of Memphis all-stars at 12:30 p.m.