ONE37pm: I heard that you play a lot of chess. How does the game help you mentally on the basketball court?
Vital: In the game of chess, you must think at least three moves ahead. At the same time, elite players can think five, seven, or ten moves ahead. Like basketball, chess is a game based on runs and momentum; you need to be aware of when you have the momentum and knowing what to do with it. On the court, especially as a point guard, I need to consider everything; what offensive set to run, what shots to take, how the defense will react to a pick and roll, and making sure my big man gets touches so he stays engaged on both ends. Chess is only a two-person game, but basketball requires you to take into account nine other people, not including the referees. It is a constant reminder that you are not out there alone, and it’s my job to execute and get everyone involved.
ONE37pm: Is that something you would consider pursuing professionally after your basketball career is completed or in the offseason?
Vital: I have not thought about it. I have been recently watching Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, but I forgot that people still take chess very seriously. I have been so caught up in basketball and put everything else aside, but it is a great hobby for me. It forces me to think and use my mind, which is essential in all aspects of life. Your body can shut down, but as long as you have your mind, anything is possible. So, do I see myself doing that? I would not be opposed to it. I would love to find a way to include chess and basketball in the future, possibly at youth camps or events. It gives the youth a chance to discover new hobbies and show them different possibilities outside of basketball. So, we will see what happens down the line.
ONE37pm: Athletes are using their platforms to speak up for things that they believe in. What do you want to use your platform for?
Vital: Post-2020, I want to use my platform for positivity. The decade started with a lot of negativity. It was even tough for me; I did not get drafted. I played well, and I felt like it was some of my college career's best basketball. However, when the pandemic started, I never got the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. I had a goal, and it was on my checklist for this season; I believe we were approaching a berth into the conference tournament.
So, as we transition into a new year and as I begin my professional career, I want to use my platform for positivity because there have been a lot of things going on. For example, what happened on Capitol Hill earlier this month, which was crazy to see because it has you wondering what would happen if that was people who look like me engaging in that type of activity on federal property. But, I think it gets lost that we are all just people despite what color we might be.
We are all the same. It isn't easy to look past all that has happened, but it is also a moment where we can educate ourselves. Many people have platforms, and that is the one thing about this country, it is a democracy, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Still, we must educate ourselves fully before using our platforms to say how we feel. We need to make sure what is said is accurate and not something to spite others.