07/07/04 — Felton is living his dream

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Felton is living his dream

By David Williams
Published in Sports on July 7, 2004 1:57 PM

He's not cocky. He's just sure of himself.

Raymond Felton is an easy going, easy-to-meet young man with immense basketball ability. And he is happy as can be living out his basketball dreams at the University of North Carolina.

Felton, who stopped by at Randy Tilley's Basketball Camp on Monday to talk with the campers, is one confident guy -- so much so that it belies his youth. A rising junior at UNC, Felton is the starting point guard and has the game to back up his impressive resume -- McDonald's All-American, All-ACC as a freshman, the Tar Heels' floor leader.

Unlike many other people his age, Felton has always believed in and worked toward set goals in his life. That habit was instilled in Felton by his parents, and he listened. He still says his father Raymond is his biggest role model.

Felton said he is surprised at his success, but he never really doubted he would reach his current level.

"I've always had goals. I was always determined," he said. "I always said I wanted to go to Carolina. I always said I was going to be the number one point guard. I always said I was going to be a McDonald's All-American. All those things I just said I was going to do, and I just went for it, and it happened."

It may sound cocky, but it really reflects how much Felton believes in himself and what he sets his mind to do.

The smooth, flashy player from Latta, South Carolina believes in the Tar Heel way -- so much so he never took the chance to be one of those well-known high school players that jump straight to the NBA to chase his dream -- playing at Chapel Hill.

After his strong freshman campaign, Felton slipped slightly in his personal numbers this past season as he adjusted to the role of leader.

Another part of the Tar Heel way is to work all year long on the game.

"Basketball is non-stop for me," he said. "I don't get a break. If I'm not doing anything with the ball, I'm working out. I never take any time off, really. I've been working camps and stuff, took first session summer school, took a course, That's basically it. I get a chance to go home and see my family."

In addition to the Tilley camp, Felton comes to a lot of other summer basketball camps. It's something he enjoys.

"Just to give back to the kids," he said. "It's not my own hometown, but at the same time it's good to do things for a community and for the kids -- give them some inspiring words, tell them about life and tell them what it takes to get where I'm at now."

Felton also enjoys working the Carolina camp.

"That's always fun, do a little work with the kids during the week, and at night refereeing the games and getting to mingle with them," Felton said. "Playing against the former players -- that's an intense game. There's definitely pride involved. I was so mad that we lost, but it was fun."

Felton and his teammates went through a lot of transition in the past two seasons -- changing coaches from Matt Doherty to Roy Williams and all the adjustments involved in the change. But Felton said the two men were not that dissimilar.

"Same personality, same guys," he said. "But at the same time, Coach Williams has won more games, he's been to the Final Four several times. He has more experience. Coach Doherty was under him for a about 11 years, so they have the same style."

The upcoming season holds a lot of expectations in Chapel Hill. Norht Carolina is expected to be among the elite in the ACC and in the country.

But that's exactly where Felton wants to be.

"It's going to be a fun year," he said. "This year should be ours -- we should take it all, but at the same time you've got to be humble about the situation. Everybody's got us picked No. 2 and everything, but we can't dwell on that. We've still got to go out there and prove it."

That's not cocky. It's just confidence -- bred from an self-assurance that oozes in front of Felton like a welcome mat in front of a door. He is not brash, but he comes through with the knowledge that he is as good as he wants to be, and doesn't have to get loud about it.

"It's about business. It's about business every game," Felton said. "We're not taking a night off. We aren't taking anyone lightly. It's about being focused and going out and getting what you want."

Revised on Wednesday, July 7, 2004