Today we get to know Ashton Charles, the state’s No. 17 prospect in the class of 2017, a little better. The junior small forward already holds offers from Hartford and Southern, and is quickly gaining more attention as he continues to develop.
ZD: When did you start playing basketball?
AC: I started playing around when I was six years old. My first sport was really baseball.
How long did you play baseball before switching to basketball exclusively?
I kept playing for a little while. I didn’t stop playing ‘til I was in 5th grade. I liked it. I played a lot of 3rd base and left field.
When did you realize you had a chance at playing college ball?
I got serious about it in middle school. Everybody kept telling me, “You’re taller than most kids your age, you should focus on basketball. Colleges could start looking at you.” So really about 6th grade. Over time, I started liking it more. I started understanding the concept of the game more.
How hard is it to be coordinated for someone so tall?
(laughing) I did a lot of training when I was little. I actually trained with a former Olympic runner for most of my middle school years.
What was he training you on?
Everything. Speed, agility, strength.
Who are you getting looks from right now?
Hartford and Southern have offered me. I’m getting looks from Baylor, Colorado, Nebraska, BYU, Lamar. Colorado will send me stuff in the mail, like, “Can’t wait for you to come here,” like that type of stuff. Nebraska sends me stuff about the school, stats, history of the team, things like that.
How does it feel to get that interest from those schools?
It feels really exciting. It also feels overwhelming, ‘cause you want to go to every program, but you can only go to one.
What exactly are you looking for in a school?
Really just a good relationship with the coach and the players. That’s my biggest thing. And you know, school, ‘cause I really want to major in architecture.
What made you want to choose that major?
I was about eight years old, and ever since I was eight I always wanted to be an architect. It was weird, it just came out of nowhere.
How would you describe your game, what do you bring to the table?
Creative. Always looking at different ways to score. I do pass a lot. I honestly think I pass a little too much but I have a good midrange and three point game. I think, because I’m so skinny, I don’t think I’m very good in the post strength-wise.
What are you looking at adding to or improving in your game?
Getting to the gym more often. I know for sure ball handling is something I definitely need to add to my game.
Who would you say has been your biggest support?
I’d have to say my mom. She’s always supporting me. Sometimes I don’t like getting out of bed, and I know I have to go to the gym in order to get stronger. But she makes me. Lift weights, and shoot. She goes with me. She rebounds.
What does she do while you’re lifting weights?
She’s just sitting there, just pushing me. “You need to do at least one more rep. One more rep. Ashton, you can do more weight than that. Ashton, you need to lower the weight,” just standing there, telling me that stuff.
How is it playing with Jacobi Gordon?
I enjoy it. I’m not the only person who they depend on rebounding all the time. It kind of does make it easier, ‘cause he plays on the outside, so if my shot’s not falling in the game, he’s there, ‘cause he’s a good shooter.
Are you a Rockets fan?
Yeah, I like the Rockets.
What’s your opinion on Dwight Howard?
I really think he’s soft. To be honest, I think he’s soft. I don’t like people that just complain, if a foul doesn’t go their way and they just complain. I just don’t like that. I think I get it from my mom, ‘cause my mom is the same way.
She doesn’t put up with any complaining?
Nope, not at all.
Who’s music are you playing in your headphones before a game?
I listen to a lot of Kid Cudi.
If you could compare yourself to an NBA player, who would it be?
I’ll say like a Jimmy Butler.
Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Christmas. My mom cooks the same amount. She cooks like a big breakfast for Christmas, then we may go to the movies. And after the movies, she may cook again, she may.
What movie are y’all going to see this year?
Probably Hunger Games. They’re all good to me. I read the books in middle school. They really bored me ‘cause in middle school I didn’t really have much interest, so they really just bored me. But then I saw the movie, and I was like, “oh, that movie is pretty good.” Ever since, I’ve been watching all the sequels.
What’s your favorite food?
Any type of burger. I love burgers.
Where’s the best burger in Houston?
Red Robin. That’s where it has to be. And they just built one right down the street from my house.
You’re 6’8, there’s no way you just eat one burger.
(laughing) Yeah, my mom can never finish anything whole. Like she’ll cut it in half and eat a half of it. Then she’ll be like, “You want the rest?” And I’ll be like, “Yep, sure.”
You don’t even have to ask, huh?
Nope. Sometimes I just stare at it. And she’ll just be like, “Take it.”
What other sports do you like?
I love football. I love college football. I’ll sit in front of a TV all Saturday and watch college football.
Who’s your favorite team?
Alabama, the best team.
Are you hoping to get any offers from any particular schools?
I would say Baylor. I took a tour of Baylor. They have some good kids. Like that kid Rico Gathers. That dude is a beast. I had to go up against him. I got dunked on. I was just like, “Never again. Never again.” The rest of the scrimmage, I just laid back.
Are you in touch with the coaches?
Yeah, me and Coach Tang text every once in a while. After the GASO this past year, he texted me like, “Don’t worry.” You know, ‘cause my shot wasn’t really falling at that tournament. So he was just like “Shots will fall, don’t worry. Keep playing.”
Do you think Houston is a better basketball city than Dallas?
Yes. I think Dallas has a lot of talent, but I think Houston is really coming up, not being so focused on football all the time. I think it’s really coming up in basketball.
Why do you think Dallas gets more love?
Maybe just ‘cause the AAU teams they have there. That’s what I’m thinking. ‘Cause in Houston, we’ll have a team that will get a sponsorship for one year, and then next year you won’t see that team ever again. I know Dallas, their teams consistently Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, I know they had at least six teams from the suburbs of Dallas in the Adidas Gauntlet. This past year, we had three.
Do you know who you’re going to play with next summer?
I’m thinking about staying with Texas Elite. My high school coach from last year is making the team, Michael Young. His son is in the NBA now. He’s going to make the team “Joe Young Elite.” It’s going to be a Nike team. They’re going to be Nike, but I don’t think it’s going to be EYBL. That’s what me and my mom were debating about, ‘cause this is probably my last year playing AAU basketball, so she’s like maybe you should play on the circuit, and just stay with Texas Elite. I’m still deciding.
Thanks to Ashton Charles for the interview. You can follow him on Twitter at @acharles2017.