Just kind of in general, has this year been really rough for you?
It was a tough year. Sitting out and having to watch every game from the sidelines was tough, especially at times when our team got depleted. And I know I could have been out there helping them out.
I really worked on my game, and the coaching staff did a great job of adding a lot of things to my offense and defense. I feel like I'm a lot more prepared to come into the season and help them out. I'm just excited all around.
How did you get through the tough times? Did you mark days off on the calender or anything?
It was tough. Every day when you'd go to practice, you're basically working, not for playing time, but you've got to look ahead into the future. That's what I did every time. Every day, I just kept thinking, "Next year. Next year. Next year."
I didn't waste a year. So every day I knew I had to go out there and better myself and make myself the best player that I can be.
Did you go up against Pierre quite a bit? Did you guys push each other?
Yeah. That's one thing that really did help me. I got to go against everybody from Pierre to Jeff. I even went up against Bru and some of those guys. Every day I was playing against out starters. I think that helped me. Hopefully it helped them a little bit during the year, too.
How have you changed physically since you went into your freshman year at Iowa State?
I've maintained my weight. I came in pretty heavy, and I lost a lot of weight during the season. Now, I'm a little more controlled in my body. I gained a lot of strength, and I'm ready for the long season. I think I hit a freshman wall when I played at Iowa State, and hopefully this year it doesn't happen.
What is your role being on this team?
I haven't really talked too much with coach about it. But definitely I want to come out and contribute right away and hopefully use my athleticism out there just to help the team a little bit. I'm going to play defense as hard as I can. Offensively, when they give me the shot, I'll be ready.
Why didn't you play tonight?
I messed my ankle up two games ago. It's just a precaution. I'll play Monday.
Did you want to play tonight?
Yeah, I wanted to play. But it's still pretty swollen. I probably could have, but it's better to stay off of it. It's just the summer. I don't want to do anything that's going to prolong the injury.
Is the weight training here different than at Iowa State?
A little bit. It's more my style. It's just my type of body. I've done a lot better job training here and taking care of my body and gaining strength than I did at Iowa State.
The reason I ask is because you said that you hit a freshman wall.
It's just a different program. At Iowa State, we ran a lot. I went from 220 pounds to 185 during the season. By the end of the season, I was really weak. Coming here, I've been able to stay right; maintain weight. That helps my game so much more. I'm able to stay in there and bang and stay strong and stay explosive.
What are you at now?
215. I'm going to stay about 215. That's the weight coach talked about me playing at. I feel more comfortable at 215.
Are you a two or a three or both?
Two-three. It all depends on who you guard. Two and three are basically the same position, but you might have to guard a bigger guard.
Do you feel comfortable with you and Jeff and Pierre lining up together on the perimeter?
I think so. I think our team has a lot of options. We have so many players. We're deep this year.
What do you feel will be the strength of this team?
We're pretty united. We're a team that's going to fight as hard as we can. You've seen that with guys like Jeff and Greg. They're going to give it their all. I am, too. We're going to leave it all out on the court. You can't ask for anything more from a fans' or coaches' standpoint.
Do you feel like your transfer here and all the fanfare that surrounded it are far in your past now?
A little bit. You can't get away from it. That's something that's part of staying in state. But, I'm so happy here. My life has gotten so much better since I've come here. It's been exciting. I've gotten to the point where I love playing basketball again. At Iowa State, it got to be a hassle. It was business every day. Coming here, playing with these guys and the coaching staff, it's a great opportunity. I'm happy to be here.
What would be your reaction if Southern Miss. does not come up here because of this logo business?
(Laughs) I don't know. Either way, I don't think it matters. I'm going to take it as another game. If you think too much into it, it's going to affect the way that you play.
Coach Eustachy, I'm happy for him. He's got a new position down there. He'll do a great job. I wish him the best. And I wish their team the best. But when we play them, if we do, I'm going to give it my all.
So, how do you feel about going to Europe this summer?
I'm pretty excited. I leave in August to go play with the Big Ten (all-star) team. I'm going to Italy. It's been a long time since I've really played competitively. It will be a good time to knock some rust off of my game, too.
Did it mean a lot to you that your teammates elected to send you on the tour?
Yeah. It did. It just shows how much of a team that we are. When guys like Jeff and Pierre and Brunner turn down a trip because they think that a younger guy needs to go because it will help the team in the long run, that shows a lot. It shows a lot on their character. It's not about individuals. It's about the team. We're looking to build this team up and get deep into the tournament.