Hear Me Out: Top NBA Draft Prospect Kelly Oubre Jr. on His Favorite Warm-Up Song and the Best Sneakers Out Right Now

When it comes to this year’s potential NBA Draft class, Kelly Oubre Jr. stands head and shoulders above the rest in style. Oubre Jr. is a 6-7 swingman from Kansas drooling with potential, even considering the fact that he only averaged 9.3 points per game during his lone year with the Jayhawks. Right now, ESPN’s Chad Ford projects him going No. 16 to the Celtics. But even though he should have every opportunity to play his way into a spot on the All-Rookie team next year, Oubre Jr. already stands out as a trendsetter.

Instagram selfies? A fly style? Dope fits? This rookie has it all. When we dropped the first video episode of The Drop and decided we wanted a few NBA rookies to come through as special guests, we knew we had to have Oubre Jr.. Checkout what he had to tell us about staying unique.

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The draft is almost here. How are you feeling?
I’m feeling good. It’s exciting to be out here and just feel the New York atmosphere and vibe out here because you know in a couple of months the draft is going to be out here so I’m just getting a little taste of what it’s going to be like at that time.

How often have you been?
I came up here for the Elite 24 game. I came up here for the Big Street Classic and for another tournament, the NHSI so this is my fourth time being out here. I love New York. It’s just a place that I adapt to pretty easily because it has a fashion sense and a little culture about it, so I adapt to New York and I love being out here.

Has it sunk in yet that you’re about to be in the NBA?
Yeah, it has kind of sunk in, all these tough workouts I’ve been going through every day. But the grind is real. Basketball is my job now, so I take it as so now. It’s a business and so I carry myself as a business.

If you could take one player you really want to go up against next year who would it be?
James Harden. I study his game a lot. I like his offensive game. There’s a rumor that he doesn’t play defense, so I’m pretty sure we would just be going back and forth. But it’s somebody I want to see myself match up against because he’s a guy that I see myself playing like in the NBA. Other guys I like are Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard. I like those two. I like the way they play the game of basketball.

What’s something that you want to showcase next year that you feel you haven’t had the chance to yet?
My ball-handling. I can really handle the ball. I wasn’t the main primary ball-handler at Kansas so I didn’t have the ball in my hands a lot. But I feel I can dribble the ball. I feel like I have it on a string and it’s something at the next level that you’re going to need to create your own shot, so it’s something I feel like I can utilize at the next level.

You’re known as a really stylish guy. What sneakers are you into right now?
Honestly, throughout high school I was big in trading and selling Jordans and doing that whole Sneaker Con thing. But now I’m more on my sophisticated…I’m a businessman, so I kind of like Stan Smiths. I still like Nikes and things like that but more runners, Air Max, things like that. I’m always on that. But Jordans, obviously. You gotta have some Jordans around. Kind of mixing it up. I believe you gotta have a variety of things so people don’t believe that you’re just trying to be a hypebeast.

What about on the court?
Right now, I’m pretty much working out in a lot of different shoes, trying to test them out and see how they feel. But in high school, I liked playing in Kobes, low-tops, and KDs. Damian Lillard’s shoes that they have now are pretty comfortable, so I’m mixing in those three when I workout.

How do you put your own personal spin on the stuff you’re wearing? Russell Westbrook does that all the time, taking something simple and making it his own.
Yeah, for sure. I like to mix my stuff up. I don’t want to look like the next guy. If I see him wearing that, I like to wear something different. I never want to try to copycat someone’s swag because I always want to be original for myself, and have everybody else be original. One thing I do is set my outfit out, take some time to look at it and if I see somebody else wearing it or the color scheme isn’t working for me, I will venture off and do something else. Just being original and putting my own spin on some stuff makes me who I am.

Kelly Oubre Kansas
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

What’s an essential for you right now that you have to have everywhere you go?
An essential for me would probably be earrings. I like to switch them up. I like to have different color earrings on. I don’t really wear watches or cologne because I haven’t found my fragrance that really sticks with me. But earrings, that’s definitely one of the biggest for me.

Your IG page is pretty crazy. You got a lot of selfies on there. What are the essentials for taking a good selfie?
The lighting gotta be there. The eyes gotta pop. That’s pretty much it. I just need the light to be there. I already look good enough and can just take the picture so it’s cool.

Do you got a favorite selfie you’ve ever taken?
Favorite selfie? Nah. They all kind of resemble one another. They all got my face in the picture. As long as my eyes pop, I’m good.

Is there one celebrity that you’re trying to get a selfie with?
I’m not really like a guy that thirsts over a celebrity, but Chris Brown is a guy I look at as a style icon, Kanye West and guys like that because they’re young…Kanye not so much, but Chris is. They’re young and they have a fashion sense. Those are two people that I look up to.

What type of music are you into right now?
I’m from New Orleans so I like Curren$y. I like Lil Wayne. Those are my two OGs from back home. I listen to them and then I’ll mix it up and listen to some Cali music, someone like IamSu or Royce The Choice and RJ. Those guys from California or I’ll listen to Future, Young Thug, and I like Fetty Wap. Those are the guys I’m listening to right now.

What’d you think of Young Thug’s new album?
It was cool. It took some time to grow on me. I was like “What is this dude saying?” He’s got his voice all over the place. Now that I sat on it, I can bump it hard.

What’s a song that you gotta have in your warm-up mix?
“The Sky is the Limit” by Lil Wayne. That’s definitely something that is deep to me because I kind of like to think I have no limitations and things like that, and it digs deep.

Which artists do you think have a style that’s similar to yours?
Breezy. Who else? Not necessarily artists, but guys in the NBA, I like Russell Westbrook’s fashion. Sometimes he goes a little overboard but sometimes overboard is what you need to do to get people’s attention to let people know that you’re about this fashion life.

James Harden. After their game against the Clippers like two weeks ago in L.A., I got a chance to stay after the game and see him. He had on some Louboutins, some slacks, and a burgundy blazer and it was just popping. I was like “Whoa, this tough.” Anything that can catch my eyes is something that I like.

You already mentioned Young Thug, but 2015 overall has been a great year for music so far. Which artists are you looking forward to hearing the rest of the year?
Honestly, you can never count out Drake. I’m looking for Drake to drop something hot. And Kanye is coming out with his album, too. But just guys like that, people who have a voice in the music industry and people are waiting for them to drop something hot is definitely something that I’m looking forward to.

What’s your guilty pleasure in music?
I listen to some Sam Smith. What’s that song…when your legs don’t work like they used to. That’s pretty dope too. I like to listen to some…I don’t want to say “white people music” but I don’t have ears that are focused on just one genre.

If you could be introduced to one song at your first game, what would it be?
That’s a good one right there. Honestly, that’ll be tough because there are a lot to choose from so I can’t give you a definite answer on that one. But I will definitely try to have a little playlist for when I’m coming out. Definitely. But I haven’t collected that yet.

What’s a city you’re looking forward to seeing before the draft that you haven’t had the chance to check out yet?
A city like Atlanta or a city…I’ve been to L.A. a lot. I’ve been to New York plenty of times. Utah and Denver. Cities where nobody really goes or they aren’t really a hot topic because I’ve been to Chicago also and I saw how some of those guys are living lavishly out there. Every city has its own personality and I definitely want to see some of the smaller cities that I could potentially be playing at and see how I stack up there.

What’s your training schedule like?
Me personally, I don’t like to take days off. I’ve been out here in New York and Chicago but I’ve been in the gym every single day just to keep my endurance and my skills right. Basketball is my job and I don’t have anything else to do so I might as well go to the gym. But every day since the pre-draft started, I’ve been in the gym three times a day, doing strength and conditioning stuff once a day. It’s been a heavy grind for me. Sometimes I’m so tired that I can’t even move in the morning but I have resources to help me recover and help my body be 100 all the time.

Are more people recognizing you?
A little bit, but I’m a guy who has always been under the radar and I like to keep it that way. But a lot of people are starting to recognize me more because of my hairstyle or my face. But it’s that time now in my life where I embrace it. I don’t really say no to anybody. I let someone else say no if they think I shouldn’t be signing autographs or guys taking pictures. I’m a great guy so I like to embrace the fans with open arms.

Give me a preview of what you’re possibly going to be wearing on draft night?
Oh man, it’s going to be crazy. I’m trying to pop. I’m trying to pop. I’m definitely going to be the swaggiest person at the draft because I take pride in that. But I’m sitting down with some people right now where we’re creating that fashion week look. It’s going to be something that everybody’s going to be talking about in the green room. It’s going to be tough. I can’t display any details right now but just wait and see.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney