Rawle Alkins is on the phone from Indianapolis, three sleeps away from the big day. The Daniel Kaluuya doppelgänger -- if the Get Out star was 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds, that is -- has a last-minute workout scheduled with the Indiana Pacers, who own the 23rd and 50th picks in Thursday's NBA Draft.
Most mock drafts project him to be picked somewhere in between those two slots, grouped with a bunch of 3-and-D guys who Alkins thinks can't get to the rim as well as him. Regardless of where he winds up, Alkins sounds ready to take people by surprise.
"I think that I'm going to have a breakout year and be one of these steals of the draft," Alkins says. "For sure."
Alkins is a strong, physical guard from Brooklyn, so he has been compared to Pacers swingman Lance Stephenson for years. Their personalities could hardly be more different, though, and he hopes to make his own name at the next level. At every workout with a potential employer, he has tried to show that he is the most coachable, competitive, high-motor player on the court. Now that this process is just about over, he says he will "cherish this moment" because you only get to go through it once.
The following Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity and flow.
CBS Sports: Whose name are you tired of hearing more -- Lance Stephenson or Daniel Kaluuya?
Alkins: The guy from Get Out, for sure. That's the guy I hear the most. That's the guy I'm tired of hearing.
I think I get compared to Lance because he's from New York and I'm from New York and he's dark-skinned and I'm dark-skinned. Stuff like that. With Daniel Kaluuya, I don't know, we probably have the same eyes or something.
CBS: What do you think of the 3-and-D label?
Alkins: I don't want to be known as that type of player. I want to be known as a versatile player. I don't want to be known as a one-dimensional player. So that's basically limiting myself. I feel like I can be much more than just 3-and-D.
CBS: Did you get to show everything you can do at Arizona?
Alkins: For sure I feel like I'm definitely going to showcase a lot more in the NBA, especially with the spacing and the three-second rule. That three-second rule is a killer because of the fact that you can't stay in the lane and pack it like college. In college, you can just stay there the whole time. Now the guy has gotta be out the way. It makes it a lot easier to get to the rim. Pick-and-roll is going to be easier because of the fact that there's a lot more space in the NBA, there's not that much help. Basically you're just like on an island.
Watching James Harden and actually talking to James, who told me, like, a couple tips -- basically what he does when he's at the top of the key, he's dribbling the ball and he's not even worried about his first defender. He's not worried about the guy guarding him. He's watching the big man in the middle of the paint and he's counting in his head, "1, 2," because he knows that they have to get out the paint before three seconds. And once they get out, that's when he starts his move and starts to attack.
CBS: Was Donovan Mitchell's story inspiring to you?
Alkins: Definitely. It's cool, because he's from where I'm from -- in New York. Seeing him blow up the way he did was crazy because I was talking to him one day and then he literally told me, he said he never expected his life to be like this. He was at the end of the lottery and then a guy got hurt -- Rodney Hood got injured, that's the guy that was in front of him. He got the opportunity. Really, it's all about opportunity, and he showcased his abilities. It started at summer league and it just increased throughout the year. His confidence kept getting higher and higher. He's not the tallest guy in the world, but he has heart. You can't really test heart.
CBS: The heart and motor in your game ... where did that come from?
Alkins: I'd just say being from New York. Being from New York, you always have to be tough. You have to have that New York City toughness and you play hard. You play with a chip on your shoulder and it seems like you want it more than a lot of guys.
CBS: What are the memories you have of growing up in New York that shaped you?
Alkins: There's a lot of times in New York City, playing in the park -- not even in a real game, whether it's playing pickup in a park, with your friends, just people in the street. In New York, especially where I'm from, you're playing pickup with like gang members and stuff like that. It's not really, like, the most safe thing to do, but at the same time, you're playing with these guys, you just still try to play hard and not worry about the outcome or anything like that. In New York, you've always got to have your guard up. At the same time, you can't live scared.
CBS: How did you learn to defend the way you do?
Alkins: I feel like defense is just effort. It's not hard to play defense, especially if you have a gifted body. I just try to use my body as my strength. This whole summer I've been working on it, getting faster and stronger. I feel like it's working to my advantage. I don't get as tired as I used to. I feel like I'm quicker and I can stay in front of smaller guards and I'm as strong as the bigger guys, too. It's just effort at the end of the day and just having the will to make sure someone isn't scoring.
CBS: What allowed you to be focused on your ultimate goal when you were a highly ranked high school player?
Alkins: Just understanding the bigger picture. 'Cause, like, if you're a top player in high school, it's just high school. Once you get to college, it starts all over again. You gotta get that back. And then same thing in the NBA. The top pick in the NBA Draft and the guy that doesn't get drafted in the NBA, their rookie season is going to be the same. If you look at, for example, Kyle Kuzma -- Kyle Kuzma did better than most of the guys that got drafted ahead of him, but obviously he's not getting paid like it.
CBS: What's the difference between Rawle three months ago, college player, and this guy that you're showing to people in workouts after spending so much time training at Impact Basketball?
Alkins: During the college season I was at 12 percent body fat. Now I'm at eight percent. So I lost a lot of body fat. I got a lot stronger. The game is a lot easier for me now, too. I'm jumping a lot higher, running a lot faster and I'm shooting a lot better, too. I've been working on my shot and obviously getting adjusted to the NBA 3-point line, working on my arc and on my fundamentals. I think I'm a way better player and it shows in these workouts.
CBS: What's an example of adversity you've overcome to get to this point?
Alkins: Coming out of high school, I was used to having the ball in my hands. I was used to being that guy who plays the whole game, shoots every shot and the coaches run every play through you and all that stuff. And then my freshman year of college, my coach basically told me he wanted me to just focus on defense. And I'm not going to lie to you: coming out of high school, that wasn't really my main focus. I didn't really care too much about defense, to be honest. I was just focused on trying to get the team to win and putting the ball in the basket. And then when I came to college and my coach told me that, it was definitely a different role than I was used to. It took me a while to adjust and really focus on it.
Once I put my mind to it that this is what the coach needs me to do to stay on the court and this is what the coach needs me to do to play, that's what I did. And it showed. And I feel like it made me a better player because now I'm a two-way player, rather than just a one-way player, like an offensive-minded player. And I feel like great defense is the best offense.
I think that all you have to do is really be on the court to showcase what you do, that you can do more. So when I was a freshman and I was guarding and playing defense, that was my ticket to staying on the court. That's what got my coach's trust. And I think that over time, to my sophomore year, I gained that trust to where like now he's good with me doing everything. So it's kind of like high school and my freshman year all in one, if that makes sense.
CBS: When you look toward your rookie season, do you see that as a way to separate yourself again?
Alkins: Yeah, for sure. That's going to be the same way in the NBA. Everyone needs a defender regardless. And I feel like that's going to be my ticket to the NBA. Like I said before, all you need to do is be on the court and when you're on the floor you can show flashes that you can do more. That's how your role increases. That's exactly what happened with Donovan Mitchell.