1-on-1 With Assistant Coach Korey McCray

Mississippi State men's basketball assistant coach Korey McCray talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

You have already worked with Coach Howland as an assistant coach when he was the head coach at UCLA. You two must work well together for him to hire you a second time.
"We have great chemistry. I believe in Coach (Howland). I know what he expects. I know what he expects from the guys. It is a joy to be working with somebody that I have complete confidence in and who has confidence in me."

What does it mean to you personally that you were his first staff hire?
"It means a lot to me. It shows me that he has confidence in me and that we work well together. We accomplished big things at UCLA. In 2012 we had the Number 1 recruiting class in the country at UCLA. We won the Pac 12 (the next season). We had two great years there. And I think we are going to do great things here at Mississippi State by working just as hard as we did at UCLA."

How did you guys sign the Number 1 recruiting class?
"Coach (Howland) has a great track record. He has put a lot of guys in the NBA. A lot of these young people want to get to the NBA. That is their dream. And he does a great job of getting guys better. And you may have noticed that his teams get better as the year goes on. He does a great job of developing young men not just for basketball but also for life. And we are (trying to do) the same thing here at Mississippi State."

Mississippi State has not had much success the past three years but Coach Howland and his staff have come in and put Mississippi State on the recruiting map. This year's class is ranked 13th in the country. How did you guys go about doing that so quickly?
"At the end of the day Mississippi State is an unbelievable university, has unbelievable resources, unbelievable facilities. We are also about to put close to a half a million dollars into the weight room. And not only can you sell Mississippi State and its history, they have been to the Final Four here. And you can also sell Coach Howland who has also taken teams to the Final Four."

You have a strong AAU background. How has that helped you in recruiting?
"It definitely helps when you have great relationships with a few (AAU) programs. It always helps you be successful when you have people you can call on who want to help you. And when it comes to recruiting, it is all about relationships and the product that you are selling."

Coach Howland is not the only member of this staff that you have worked with. There are several other guys that you have work with over the years.
"I have worked with (MSU graduate assistant coach) Donovan Castro when he was a student-manager at UCLA. I also worked with our Director of Operations Jason Ludwig when he was the video coordinator at UCLA. Both did an outstanding job there. And Michael Moynihan, our video coordinator here at Mississippi State, played for the (AAU team) Atlanta Celtics. And we are part of that family. So, I am connected to these guys. Then we have George Brooks, who has been awesome for us. And Ernie Zeigler is very articulate and very smart. Coach Howland does a great job of putting together a coaching staff. We have an unbelievable staff and unbelievable leadership with Coach Howland. And we are at a great, great university, a hidden treasure. I am happy to be here and be a part of this staff."

The chemistry of this staff must be really good due to so many of you having previously worked together.
"The key to this staff is that we have all been connected to Coach Howland. Because of that, we all know what he expects. He demands excellence and we all know that. Another thing about this staff is we all like each other. You want your team to get along, to like each other. We already have that same type family atmosphere as a coaching staff. And Mississippi State is that type university, a family type university."

A couple of the players that I talked to said they love this coaching staff. How did the staff build such a great relationship with the players so quickly?
"Everybody knows the players are the most important part of a program. And we give our all to the players. We want them to get better because we know if they get better individually, then we will get better as a team. We do all what we can to make sure they are successful on and off the court. It is bigger than just basketball. We want to know how they are doing in their personal life, how well they are doing in the class room."

What are your hopes for this team based on what you have seen from the returning players and the newcomers?
"We have really good seniors and really good freshmen. I think we have some impact players and some really good role players. When you have that combination you can have something special. I think the sky is the limit for this team. We just have to get adjusted to Coach Howland's philosophy. And I think the guys are doing a good job of buying into that philosophy."

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.

Gene's Page Top Stories