Patrick McCaw

Patrick McCawFormer UNLV Runnin’ Rebel and current Golden State Warrior Patrick McCaw is trying to figure out what shoes he’d wear for a championship game.

“It all depends.” McCaw is silent for a moment until he suddenly looks up and smiles. “Yeezys. That’s a good way to go out. The high-top ones. The black ones.”

While he answers hypothetically, the dilemma is a very real possibility for the 21-year-old, who dove headfirst into his next chapter, debuting as a pro player back in October.

Sitting down with McCaw, he exudes effortless cool: there is confidence without ego. When the topic of the 2016 draft comes up, McCaw’s eyes grow wide and he shakes his head in disbelief. “Once my name was called, I kind of didn’t believe it. I was just crying for 30 minutes … a lot of people didn’t even think I’d be in college.”

“And to be an NBA player now? It’s crazy.”

McCaw, who spent two years in Las Vegas playing for UNLV, brings up his college career.

“The chemistry and the talent that we had was just amazing. I think the best memory is when we beat Arizona. It was my freshman year [2014], and beating the No. 3 team in the country and seeing everyone storm the court like that? It’s a dream come true for any type of basketball player.”

Teammate and friend Jelan Kendrick recalls the first time he met McCaw: “He walked in all smooth, and he didn’t say much. Patrick’s sleek. He’s like a unicorn. Oh, and he doesn’t miss a shot.”

“The relationships I built with my teammates were something special. I can call each and every one of them to this day and just sit and have a conversation with them,” McCaw says.

He also sheds light on the magnitude of what getting a scholarship to UNLV meant.

“People always doubted how far I would go with basketball, and I think that type of stuff has always motivated me. The time and work I’ve put in is paying off,” he says.

As he talks, one is reminded of a line in J.Cole’s “Intro” from 2014 Forest Hills Drive: “They say that dreams come true and when they do, that there’s a beautiful thing.” So what’s it like when your dreams come true?

“It hasn’t really hit me yet. In this next chapter everything is kind of continuing to get better. I always think of both the negative and the positives, but it’s surreal I’m actually in the NBA,” McCaw says.

As the interview draws to a close, McCaw heads off to practice, where he’ll be surrounded by the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson—guys he admired are now peers.

He stands to leave and hesitates for a second. “I got to do the [filming for video game] NBA 2k17,” he says. “It was crazy, they had me make the game-winning face.”

Grabbing his phone, he stops once more to glance around the room. Golden State–embossed gear lay scattered. McCaw smiles. “It was all just really cool.”