A Q&A With Senior Ravern Johnson

Gene's Page talks one-on-one with Mississippi State senior basketball player Ravern Johnson.

Ravern Johnson is heading into his senior season as a Mississippi State Bulldog. Being a senior, he expects his role to change. And despite losing two very experience seniors from last year's team, Barry Stewart and Jarvis Varnado, he believes MSU will have another very good team. He talked one-on-one with Gene's Page about both of those things as well as a few others.

What will your role be this year now that you are one of the seniors on the team?
"I'm going to have to be more of an outgoing guy on the team, become more of a leader by telling the other guys what we have to do. I've been here for four years so I know what it takes to win here, what it takes to win in our conference. Basically, I'm going to have to help to get everybody on the same page."

Do you feel comfortable in a leadership role?
"Now I do. I've been here for a while now, so being a leader is not a problem for me."

What do you have to do as a leader.?
"I just have to be more outgoing and lead by example. Go hard in practice every day, like conditioning, weight room, anything. That way, when I say something the guys will respect me enough to know that I am going to do the right thing and they will follow my example."

Do you feel comfortable being a vocal leader if the need arises?
"Yeah, I feel comfortable with that."

You've talked about being a leader. You are also a great shooter. Will that role expand for you since Barry Stewart has graduated?
"We have more guys now who can shoot like Jalen (Steele). He can shoot. Brian (Bryant) is an exceptional driver. But my role will kind of go up a little bit because I want to do more because I'm a senior. I will carry the team on my back if I have to. I believe I have gotten a lot better in my all-around game."

When you say you have gotten better, what are you specifically referring to?
"I've gotten better at putting the ball on the floor, getting to the hole, my ball-handling has gotten a lot better. I'm not just a one-dimensional guy who catches and shoots. I, basically, can get to the rim whenever I want to."

What did you do over the summer to improve in those areas?
"I did a lot of ball-handling. I spent more time ball-handling than I did shooting."

How often did you work on your ball-handling?
"Every day I am in there going hard down the court with two balls, just making sure I did everything right."

Two balls? You were dribbling two balls at one time?
"Yeah, two balls."

How long did you do that each day?
"I did it for an hour each day before I left the gym. It helped me a lot. Now, we are doing our two-a-days and we start off with our ball-handling, so that is still helping me get better."

Have you tried dribbling two balls at once before?
"I have but I didn't stay on it like I did this time. But I know this is my last go-around so I knew I had to put a lot of work into it."

You are going into your senior season. You've seen all the guys on this team for the last few years. And you've seen the new guys for a portion of the summer and in the 4 on 1 early morning workouts. What do you see in this team?
"We have a lot of talent. We have a lot of guys who want to win, a lot of guys who will accept their roles no matter what it is. There's not going to be any bickering about this or that or playing time. Everybody is on the same page. We are on the same page right now and practice hasn't even started."

Why do you feel this team is like that?
"I guess it is because we hang around each other so much now. We talk basketball a lot now. And it always comes up in the conversation that we want to win."

You've mentioned two of the new guys during this interview, Jalen Steele and Brian Bryant. And of course Renardo Sidney is like a new guy since he didn't play last season. What have you seen from each of those guys that you like?
"Jalen is a really good shooter. He really can shoot it. And Brian is a guy who is a great rebounder and he can really get to the rim."

Does that surprise you about Brian since he's not a big, tall guy?
"It does, but he's got the longest arms that I have ever seen (laugh). And he has good instincts with the ball.

"Renardo, there's not too much you can say about him, he's just good! There aren't going to be too many people who can stop him."

I hear that from MSU coaches and other players. What is it about him?
"He's big. He can handle the ball. He can shoot. There is not too much you can do with him (defensively)."

In the three years you have played in the SEC have you seen a single player as big as him who can do what he can do?
"No, not one person."

Isn't that a lot of hype to put on a kid?
"It sort of is, but I'm pretty sure he can live up it."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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