Horford healthy, excited to start the season

Veteran center Jon Horford has had a very strong summer, working towards being injury free out on the court. This year Jon looks to contribute more not only on the floor but off it as well. He talks about his leadership and thoughts on the young Wolverines.

As the Michigan Wolverines start a new season of basketball one thing about this team is obvious: they are very young. When you have youth, coaches look to the more experienced players to step in and help with guiding them in the right direction. Enter junior Jon Horford, who is qualified and looking forward to helping lead a young team to success.

"Naturally with experience is a leadership role," Horford says, "and you know you just have that knowledge. Having much younger players that are coming in, they don't know what you know and haven't seen what you have seen. So to help them and to guide them along, I feel like it is a part of our responsibility as the elder statesmen."

Having had the chance to see firsthand the success that Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway demonstrated last season, Horford is very impressed with the collection of talent for this team.

"Tim and Trey were both great players, obviously. But I feel that the depth that we have on this team is more than we had last year. We have a lot of guys that played minor roles last year who are really capable of doing great things. I feel we are going to have a lot of success with this group of guys. We have a lot of guys who can play a lot of different positions. The coaches realize that from playing around with that all summer and all fall, and I feel like that is just going to give us so many more options. We are going to find something that works and that is going to be really good for us."

Jon talked about some of those young guys that played minor roles for the Wolverines last season. He has seen one of those young players in particular put in hard work and expects a prosperous year for him.

"Caris is a really good kid who works very hard, and naturally when you put in those hours eventually it is going to pay off for you. Defensively he has always been really solid, very quick and lengthy. His offensive game is really blossoming. He is playing really well so I expect big things from Caris this season."

One of the staples for the Michigan basketball program's togetherness has remained their open gym. It gives the team an opportunity to compete and get to know each other better. Horford talks about just how vital open gym has continued to be for this group and their connection out on the floor.

"This year we probably played more open gym then we ever have played. It's been really good playing a lot with these guys and getting used to each other. Seeing how guys act in victory and defeat, learning what these guys are really about -- I feel it is something that we haven't done a lot of in the past. This year we did more open gym and playing more together; we haven't had it like that ever before. So I feel like going in that's just a benefit to this team to allow us to become closer."

Jon's past injuries have could have taken a toll on him mentally, but he has consistently fought back to help his team. Although he talks about working hard to be healthier for the season, it is always tough to get him to talk about his continued development.

"I feel great I am as healthy as I have been in college, so I am really excited about that. And staying healthy is key. I want to help the team whatever way I can, and whatever the coaches think that's the best thing for the team I am willing and happy about that. As far as my development you would have to ask the coaches about that. It is hard for me to talk about myself." (Coach Bacari Alexander says that he is happy with the development of Jon and what he has done to get better this season.)

This Michigan team is young, close and ready to prove to the basketball world that, while they are going to miss Tim and Trey, it is their turn to prove they belong on the big-time basketball scene. Having Jon Horford excited and healthy just helps even more.

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