For the first time since he was indefinitely suspended by Coach Johnny Jones on Dec. 7, point guard Anthony Hickey spoke with reporters on Thursday.
Hickey, now back with the team, opened up on growing up and maturing in the face of mistakes that he's made. The sophomore also spoke about what the past few weeks have been like and how he can give his season's story a good ending going forward.
Publisher's Notes: Hickey traveled with the team on its recent two-game road trip, a week after being suspended, and first entered the game in the second half of a loss at Boise State. He then proceeded to play in portions of both halves in the team's next game, a win at UC Irvine.
Today's interview with Hickey was shared by a number of media members. Questions below from other reporters are denoted with a 'Q' while 'BL' represents any questions I asked Hickey.
Q: How has your family been since you were suspended? What was the reaction to that?
AH: Their reaction is you've got to take care of your business. They knew that I had embarrassed myself enough. I've just got to move forward. I'm still young. It's not an excuse, but I've got to grow up. That suspension was telling me I've really got to get it together.
Q: You had a couple of hiccups earlier in the season, and coach disciplined you. What made this time different?
AH: That ‘indefinite' part, that put the big thought of ‘Stop, you need to get it under control right now' in my head. I need to grow up because I could've not got that second chance after coach said I was suspended indefinitely.
BL: When you were told that you would make the trip, did you know if you would play?
AH: I figured I wouldn't play, just knowing that my guys had been working hard, working their butts off and playing up to their high potential. They had been taking care of their business on and off the court while I was messing up.
Q: How much practicing had you done before getting out there in the second half of that Boise game?
AH: Yeah, I was a little rusty. I think I'm getting back in rhythm. I'm staying after practice, getting extra shots. My wind isn't like it was at first, but I'm getting it back. After that first game, I think I'm getting my breath back and everything's getting back to where it was. It's just about doing extra running to get back into the shape I was in.
Q: When the suspension was first announced, did you think it was something that could've last a longer time than what it ultimately did?
AH: It was all on how I reacted to it, I think. I started taking care of my business and doing the right thing early. It's really like a wake-up call that I needed. Not wishing the bad on me, but everybody needs that wake-up call once in a while where you need to get yourself together and walk that straight line.
Q: In the game and a half when you weren't out there, do you think Corban Collins grew up a little bit?
AH: Yeah, we got at it every day. He's learning the game and taking stuff that we do in practice into game situations. It's helping the team out. Me and Corban can also be in at the same time. He's learning and maturing on the game.
Q: How hard is it for you to start a game on the bench as you have in the last two? And has coach given any indication on when you might rejoin the starting lineup?
AH: I'm not really worried about starting. I know Corban's going to go out there and give it his all, run the team. I'm just going to be ready whenever my number's called. I want to work my way back up to the top. Like Coach Jones says 'Nothing is given. You should want to work your way to the top.'
BL: I know this probably isn't the start to this season you envisioned. How would you describe from the exhibition game until now what this has been like for you?
AH: It's been great because I'm getting better as the season goes by. As I look back, I see that I came a long way, maturity-wise. My whole life I was able to just push things aside and not worry about it, but Coach Jones came in and he put that soldier mentality (into me). He said you've got to take care of your responsibilities and business first. That's what's going to make me a better person, not just a better player, a better person. I applaud him for that because now I can see what I need to do to grow up and what I need to do to be better.
BL: What would it mean to you personally to turn it around and have the kind of finish to the season that you want?
AH: It's just about being with my team and playing what I love to play. I'm trying to be a leader for the team. I can't be a leader from the sideline or bench, not playing or not in uniform. Like I said, I'm glad to be back in that number one jersey.
Q & A: Anthony Hickey
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