Q&A with Justin Bocot

In watching Justin Bocot play basketball, you get more than just a good player. You get entertained. He likes to dunk. He likes to talk. He gets mad at himself. He likes to give the crowd some love. As a sophomore on varsity, Bocot gave Bloomington and its fans a taste of this.

While led by Dodie Dunson and Brandon Holtz, the Purple Raiders' success throughout the year was also guided by Bocot's play. He wasn't afraid to take the shot and make it. Throughout the year, he confirmed that he was one of the state's top players in the Class of 2007. This season, the team's reigns will be handed over to him. Bocot recently spoke with Ill. Hoops about his flamboyant game and his new leadership role.

Scott Powers: How's your summer going?
Justin Bocot: It's pretty good. I couldn't play a lot because I hurt my wrist. I missed nine weeks of tournaments. That was kind of tough. When I came back we played at the Dustbowl in Danville and the National Showcase in Orlando. Our coach's license had expired, so little Dodie had to play and coach us. We won one of four games.
SP: What happened with the injury?
JB: I went baseline for a dunk and a kid named Chris Singletary undercut me on purpose. It looked like on purpose. I watched the tape. I did a 360 spin and had to break my fall and I fractured one of my bones.
SP: Have you seen Singletary since?
JB: No, I haven't seen him. Yeah, I was mad. That's why I laid down and didn't do nothing. It wouldn't have looked good in front of college coaches. I just laid there. I don't know him. If I see him again, I'm going to ask him in the beginning if he did it on purpose. If so, it's going to be payback. I'm just going to let my game show.
SP: Has the injury affected you in any way?
JB: No, it hasn't slowed me down none. It's just made me more hungry. It makes me take each game more seriously.
SP: What would say your strengths are?
JB: I can shoot and drive. I make things around the bucket. I'm a good passer. I can jump.
SP: What do you still to need to work on?
JB: My strength and I needed to get bigger, my defense and my boxing out. I put my right thumb in my shot, so I don't have rotation. I need to get my thumb out of there.
SP: Some have said you have an attitude and have labeled you cocky. Is that a fair assessment?
JB: I play with a lot of emotion. I try to channel it. I do get angry, but I get angry at myself. I don't get angry at other people. People think I get angry at others because I yell a lot. I think I play better when I'm angry. I'm not sure why that is. If I play and someone gets me mad, I'm like, ‘OK,' and I step it up another level. I like to be competitive.
SP: With that emotion, you seem to sometimes play flashy. Is that just part of your personality?
JB: I like playing. Whatever feels right, I like doing. I just try to win.
SP: You played on varsity as a freshman. What was that experience like?
JB: I wasn't really happy. I thought I should have gotten more playing time. Coach and I had a lot of conflicts freshman year. It wasn't just me. A couple more people needed more playing time. We'd have a talk, he'd say something, then on the court he'd do the opposite thing. I was lost out there and didn't know what to do. I stuck with it.
SP: Was last year any better?
JB: This year was fine. We were OK. Freshman year was hectic.
SP: From the beginning, you haven't seemed hesitant to step up and take the big shots. What's your mentality on the court?
JB: I feel you got to play with confidence. If you don't show you have confidence, they won't give you the ball in the end and let you take that shot. I think I can make every shot.
SP: As a team, Bloomington didn't go as far as expected last season. Do you have higher expectations this season?
JB: Yeah, coach told me I was a leader, me and another guy, Lonnie. I'm going to step up and take us as far as we can. I want to be a leader. I like being a leader. I think as a team we could have gone farther than we did.
SP: Did you learn anything from playing with Dodie Dunson and Brandon Holtz?
JB: They're good players. You pick up a lot of stuff. Dodie's a good leader, Brandon's a good leader as well. They show a lot of leadership and sportsmanship.
SP: Who's the best player in your class?
JB: I'd have to give it to Derrick Rose. He can jump, he's quick, he can shoot. He's got everything. He can pass, rebound, he's strong with the ball.
SP: If you could play anybody one-on-one who would it be?
JB: I would play Derrick. I think I'd do good. It'd help me to work on my game. I'm always looking to work.
SP: How's the recruitment coming?
JB: It's pretty good. Coaches can't really talk to me, but I'm getting a lot of letters. I've had a couple of unofficial visits — Southern Illinois, DePaul and Iowa State.
SP: What schools are you interested in?
JB: I'm interested in U of I, DePaul, Wisconsin, Southern Illinois and Iowa State.

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