The most recent Duke basketball high jumper is making the jump to the NBA with eyes on some highly ambitious sights.
An L.A. native. A heralded former heptathlete for a mother. The highest measured vertical leap in Duke basketball history (46 inches). Yup, it’s only fitting for Cassius Stanley to set the bar high for his career ahead.
Last week, after averaging 12.6 rebounds and 4.9 rebounds in his one-and-done hop through Durham and landing on the All-ACC Freshman Team, Stanley announced his decision to cash in his talents at the next level. As a player, of course. For now, anyway.
As the 6-foot-6, 215-pound shooting guard explained this week in an in-depth chat with HoopsHype reporter Bryan Kalbrosky, he intends to shoot for one lofty position when his playing days are behind him:
“Towards the back end of my career, I definitely want to get back to Duke and finish out [my degree]…I would like a degree either in economics or law…My main goal is to end up being the commissioner of the NBA.”
Stanley then spelled out to Kalbrosky why he has this title, which Duke grad Adam Silver currently holds, in mind:
“I feel like you are only going to play the game for 10 or 12 years…if you are lucky. After that, you have a whole life story. I feel like I want to stay in the field of basketball…I don’t really want to be a broadcaster or a coach, so I feel like being the commissioner would be the best thing…I was going to gravitate toward sports in some way. My mom is an athlete and my dad represents athletes.”
Sure, the 20-year-old gives much credit for the person he is today to his mom, Tonya Sedwick, and dad, Jerome Stanley, who is a lawyer and now his son’s agent after working for the likes of Baron Davis and Keyshawn Johnson in the past. That said, Stanley summed up to Kalbrosky the overall lasting life lesson he picked up in just a brief stint under Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski:
“I would probably say accountability…He taught all of us how to be real men and be professionals.”
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As for his goals as a high-flying professional hoopster, again, Stanley just evidently wouldn’t know what to do without his bar resting on the highest peg:
“I want to be an All-Star. I want to win championships. I really just want to be the best player. Simple.”
Speaking of competing for championships, that’s all Stanley — easily the most outgoing Blue Devil in the locker room last season — now sees when looking back at what could have been for a tight-knit Duke basketball team that finished 25-6 overall, 15-5 in ACC play, and No. 11 in the final AP Top 25 Poll.
Stanley, who is likely to hear his name either late in the first round or early in the second at the 2020 NBA Draft, specifically remembers the moments he and the rest of the Duke basketball family sat together in a Greensboro hotel room on March 12 as they watched the ACC Tournament, then all of March Madness, come to an abrupt end, giving way to all those eternally frustrating what-if’s:
“That was the closest we have all been…I think that we would have been really special if we had the chance to play in the postseason. Because I felt like while I was improving a lot, we were all improving a lot. We definitely thought we were going to be playing in Atlanta for the Final Four.”
Well, if nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic should allow Cassius Stanley to study how sports leagues’ top decision-makers handled this most unusual time; after all, if he soars all the way to his highest aspirations, such high-pressure decisions could be on “Commish Cash” to make one day.
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