Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State point guard I.J. Ready takes on big brother role

Mississippi State junior point guard I.J. Ready has gladly taken on the role of big brother for highly-touted freshman point guard Malik Newman.

"Our relationship is ridiculous," said Ready of his friendship with Newman. "He is like my little brother. He calls me his big brother. Our chemistry is ridiculous. I talk to him off the court all of the time. I know he is a freshman so I want to encourage him to improve every day. I know some days can be rough on him, so, it is my job to tell him he is a great talent. I want him to know that he is Malik Newman and he needs to keep that confidence in himself."

He and Newman earned each other's respect during the summer months when they competed against each other in pickup games.

"When I first got here it was my team going against his team," said Ready. "That is where we got the respect for each other. He didn't back down and I didn't back down. Because of that we become close off and on the court."

Ready believes he and Newman are part of the best group of guards to play at Mississippi State during his three years at State.

"This is by far the best guard group that we have had at Mississippi State during my three years," he said. "You have to bring your A game to practice every day. If you don't bring your A game against the talent that we have here you can basically get embarrassed. If we can compete against each other at the hardest level, then we can really compete against anybody else that we face."

Not only is he impressed with the Bulldog guards but new head man Ben Howland has also made a strong impression on him, on and off the court.

"When he first got here and talked to me he opened my eyes and made me want to be a better all-around player," said Ready. "And he interacts with us every day. He comes down here, talks to us and makes sure we are doing alright. It is hard to explain it but when you listen to the stuff that he says it inspires you and makes you want to work even harder."

Another coach that has had a dramatic affect on his on-court play is the new strength and conditioning coach, David Deets.

"Coach Deets makes you work hard," said Ready. "He brings a lot of energy every day. He makes us want to go harder in the weight room. He is the leader in the weight room just like Coach Howland is the leader on the court. He pushes us to be the best that we can be."

Ready gave details on the improvements that he has seen from working with Deets.

"My vertical has increased by 7 or 8 inches and I actually got a lot stronger," he said. "We work out with 235, 245 pounds. It is the difference in the technology that allows you to work out certain parts of your body. It has built my core and made me a physically stronger player. And I can tell the difference in how it has made me a lot better."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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