Exclusive: C.J. McCollum opens up on rising stardom, the surprising Blazers and mani-pedis

NBA Power Rankings: Raptors Chasing Down Cavaliers in East
NBA Power Rankings: Raptors Chasing Down Cavaliers in East

Aquafina® on Monday announced the launch of the "Aquafina Happy Body Dance School Contest" for elementary and middle school students across the U.S. The brand is inviting students along with their parent or legal guardian to create a video entry of their best Happy Body Dance for a chance to win an NBA/WNBA FIT Clinic - featuring a visit from NBA and WNBA players and legends - at their school. The two winning video entries will be selected by fans and announced on May 2nd, 2016.

Beginning Monday through 11:59 PM CT on April 4th, 15-second videos of Happy Body Dances can be submitted to AquafinaHappyBodyDance.com, or by using #HappyBodyDanceContest on Instagram. A parent or legal guardian (18 or older) must also appear in the video in addition to registering to upload the video. A qualified committee of judges will select the top 10 videos as part of the semi-finalist judging phase. Those 10 videos will then be available on AquafinaHappyBodyDance.com for fans to vote for the two winners (April 9th through April 25th).

NBA players C.J. McCollum and Noah Vonleh got in on the action and filmed their own Happy Body Dance videos that will live on the site throughout the contest.

"Staying hydrated is so important on and off the court," said C.J. McCollum. "I am excited to be a part of this initiative alongside Aquafina and can't wait to see some of the breakout dance moves throughout the contest."

In 2015, Aquafina launched the "For Happy Bodies" campaign which focuses on the feel-good moments that water brings the body after consumption. Aquafina is a supporter of the Drink Up Initiative through the Partnership for a Healthier America, an effort that encourages people to drink more water more often.

Led by the NBA and WNBA's teams and players, NBA/WNBA FIT is the league's comprehensive health and wellness program that aims to inspire fans of all ages to be active, eat healthy, and play together. NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League FIT program and events include clinics held year-round here in the U.S. and across the globe, and feature a variety of basketball and fitness drills including dribbling, passing and shooting.

"We are thrilled to partner with the NBA and WNBA on such an uplifting initiative," said Rishi Daing, VP, Water Portfolio, Innovation & Emerging Brands, PepsiCo. "Amplifying our 'For Happy Bodies' program felt like a natural 'fit' and we look forward to seeing the creativity and excitement the Happy Body Dance videos inspire in students around the country."

C.J. McCollum + Aquafina = some pretty interesting dance moves.

Posted by AOL Sports on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

C.J. had a chance to chat with AOL Sports about this new campaign and the current NBA season.

Q: How did you get involved with this cool contest and how much fun was it to help kids keep their fitness and health in mind?

A: When presented with the opportunity to be a part of Aquafina's Happy Body Dance program, I jumped at the chance to encourage young people to live healthy lives while also having some fun.

Q: Speaking of fitness, what does your offseason workout schedule look like? In-season?

A: My schedule changes based on location, but usually I spend some time in Portland working with the strength and conditioning staff . That typically includes morning workouts - in the weight room, on court and hot yoga usually a couple of times a week. This summer I will probably add boxing and swimming and maybe some outdoor courses just for fun. I also work out in Ohio with my brother and my trainer and we incorporate the many of the same things -- the weight room and running stairs, etc.

In season, the early part of our training can be intense. We spend a lot of time trying to get our bodies physically ready for the long season ahead. Our workouts include ball-handling, shooting, etc. The weight room is key throughout the season for me. Also, shooting is important. I get shots up after practice and I incorporate a game day shooting routine.

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Q: How rewarding has it been to be enjoying a successful, winning season despite most of the media saying it would be a down year for the Blazers?

A: It's been extremely rewarding. It just shows that a lot of guys have put the time in and worked on their games and have been prepared to take advantage of the extreme circumstances of losing 4 out of 5 starters. Guys are seeing more minutes and making an impact in those minutes. It's been great seeing my teammates have success and hopefully we can continue to push and get a good seed for the playoffs.

Q: You've taken a major leap as an individual player this season. What went into the positive growth?

A: I just understood that my role would increase. I put a lot of time in over the summer, sacrificing vacations and spending a lot of time in Portland with our health and performance staff. I continued to evaluate my body and see what I needed to do to get better. Understanding that with an increase in minutes comes an increase in expectations, I wanted to be ready to meet the bar and exceed the bar and perform consistently at a high level all season. I wanted to make my mark on the NBA

Q: What is it like playing with Damian Lillard and how has he helped you progress as a player?

A: It's been a lot fun. I've known Dame since before college and we've been playing together and working out against each other over my last three seasons in the NBA. We just have a good understanding of one another and have developed a good chemistry. He's helped me a lot by taking a lot of attention off of me. He requires a lot of attention, teams have to game plan around him and I am trying to make his life easier. I'm doing my best to continue to be a guy he can count on to perform every night and make shots. I think the sky is the limit for both of us.

Q: How has your life changed since you've become a star?

A: I think playing a lot more minutes can be exhausting, physically and mentally so you have to get more rest and take more naps. Mani-pedi Mondays are crucial. From a media standpoint, there's a lot more attention. Pre and post-game, a lot more people are asking about the success that we've achieved this season, which was unexpected for most even if we expected it. I've also made an effort to capitalize on this platform to promote my interests off the court, some of which include my radio shows in Portland and my various community efforts.

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