COACH JASON THOMPSON INTERVIEW
Coach Thompson, I'm calling to find out a little about one of your players, Currye Todd.
Could you tell me a little about Currye and his basketball talent.
"I think it started with the family, Gene. He has it in his family. He has an older brother (Chris Moore) that was an exceptional player also. His brother is about 5-8 and was phenomenal. He could do about everything on the court. He could shoot the ball also. It was kind of instilled in Currye. Chris didn't want to go to college. What he is doing now is trying to inspire his younger brother (Currye) to continue and go to college. He is trying to be there for his brother and motivate and inspire him to do better.
"Currye has taken what he was taught by his brother and the things he has observed from me and other players and people in the area and has now taken it to another level. He is now whatever ballplayer you need. He can do it all."
What position does he play most of the time?
"Most of the time he plays two or three but he plays all five."
Do you know how he did this year scoring and rebounding?
"He scored 30.5 points per game. During the tournament, he averaged about 32 points per game. His rebounding, I believe, was around 10.5 or 11 per game.
Currye was basically an unknown talent coming into this year. When did other teams start noticing him?
"During the first of the season, he was unknown. At the end of the season, you could tell the other teams had gotten scouting reports on him. They were saying, 'that is the one, right there.' Even referees. I had one referee even come up to me and say, 'it has got to almost be illegal for you to have a joker to be that good. Is he a senior?' He even asked me if Currye was a senior. I told him, 'he is just a junior.' He said, 'goodness, he is doing things some NBA players can't do.' That was when we played Ingomar in the North Half. They beat us 65 to 64 and (Currye) had 38. And they knew he could score. They even had two men on him, but he just kept scoring. Against district teams and teams in his area, they haven't been able to stop him."
What makes him so good?
"It is his mentality. He doesn't believe he can be stopped. What he does, when he sees that a team is trying to stop him, he just steps his game up to another level. He always believes he can play above anything that a team does against him. He has played against a box and one, triangle and two, straight up abreast, man to man and the whole package. He watches their defense for a few minutes, then adjusts his game. He is just very mentally tough."
Where did he get his toughness?
"I think it was a collection of all. It was his own free will, his brother, then his coach and me."
He seems to be a great player. How did he come into this season an unknown?
"We have another guy who is a phenomenal player, Nick Turner. He is a senior this year. Last year, Nick was the spotlight player. Everywhere we went, it was Nick Turner, Nick Turner. While they were guarding Nick, Currye was putting the points on the board. Nick is a senior year and people thought if we stop Nick Turner, then we have a good chance against them. But this year, Todd has been the one putting up 30 and 40 points a game. He played big in the District Tournament last year. That was kind of his coming out party. He was already the all-around player who got the rebound, assist and the needed point. Turner scored the majority of the points and Todd scored the needed points last year. In the District Tournament, after Turner got into foul trouble, he just went to work. He scored 40 against Biggersville in the first round of the North Half. That kind of made people take notice of him."
With him now being a junior, have colleges started taking notice of him?
"Yes, we are getting letters coming from everywhere. (Mississippi) State, Ole Miss and Arkansas are sending him three and four letters per day. Arkansas was the first one who came down and watched him play. It was Coach Dunn. He fell in love with him instantly. Based on what Coach Dunn told me, they really like him."
What are the college coaches telling you about him?
"They say he is just so smooth, it doesn't seem like anything that goes on during the ballgame effects how he plays. As an example, we played Holly Springs, a big, rival ballgame, and they have several guys who are 6-6 and 6-7, their gym is full and it was standing-room only. He still put up 43 on them. Gerald Snider, who does the recruiting around Mississippi, said, 'I have not seen a player this smooth and polished in a long time. It is almost like he is a pro player playing against high school players.' Currye can really do it, he can post up, he can take you off the dribble and he can shoot over you. And his shooting range is almost unlimited."
When did you first notice that Currye was so special?
"We knew around mid-eight grade and the ninth grade that he had a lot of potential. He was short then. He was probably 5-4 to 5-5 back then. Then he grew most of his height last year. I think in the past year he has grown about two and a half inches. I believe he got his height from his dad. He's also got a sister that is 5-9 and she is only in the 7th grade."
What things do you still think Currye needs to work on?
"Strength. We don't have a strength program. We don't have any weights, period. That has really hurt us, because we just have to play on natural strength and ability only."
Why do you not have any weights, lack of money?
"That's right. We have a couple of people who are fans who might be interested in donating some money to help us out. We're lobbying for it. We're trying. If that works out, then we can get them started on lifting weights.
"Lack of a weight program is all that has been holding us back. I feel like if we had a weight program, Currye would be dominating so badly that they would be trying to draft him for the NBA. He has all the potential, he just needs the strength and weight."
Has Currye thought about what he is going to be doing this summer?
"He is going to be going to camps. He is going to the Gerald Snider camp next month. He went to the Ole Miss camp last year. I think he is going to either the Ole Miss or State camp this summer. And I'm going to have my own camp this summer. I'm going to make sure he gets plenty of work because he is going to have to lift weights. The longer that I can get him lifting weights, the stronger he will be. We lost some games this past year because their legs got fatigued and their jump shots weren't falling. We add some muscle to their legs and that will help later on in the season. With Currye, he was doing it on pure shooting and athletic ability late in the season."
You mentioned earlier that he has a sister. Tell me a little more about her.
"If she keeps working, she has a chance to be a D-I prospect. I see the potential in her. You can tell that they work with her at home and that she is inspired to be as good as she can be. She started the season off on my junior high team as a slightly above average player. Now that the season has progressed and is now over with, she has now started doing things she couldn't do at the beginning of the season. She couldn't dribble that good at the beginning of the season, but if you let her get her shot off, it was almost guaranteed that she would make it. She now can dribble between her legs, go behind her back and even has a little crossover dribble. She is only in the 7th grade and she is trying out for the high school team. There is a good chance that she will make it too."
Currye, as you will see while reading this interview, is a very confident young man in regard to his basketball talent, especially his shooting ability, but his confidence is not cockiness. He is, as are all good players, just sure of himself. As a person, I found him to be a very nice, polite young man. - Gene
CURRYE TODD INTERVIEW:
How tall are you and how much do you weigh?
"I am 6-4 and weigh 180."
What position do you play?
"In high school I play all five."
Although you play all positions in high school, what position do you think you will play in college?
"Probably the two. But I can play one or two."
I talked to your assistant coach, Coach Thompson, earlier. He told me you really started showcasing your talent a little last year but have really come into your own this past season. Part of it was due to gaining so much height the past couple of seasons.
"I grew about 6 or 7 inches."
Did your body have trouble adjusting to gaining so much height in such a short time?
"Not really, I didn't really feel anything. I was growing but didn't notice it. Other people noticed it and told me."
When did you realize that you had a talent to play basketball so well?
"I really started noticing when I was in the 6th grade."
What was it that caused you to notice how good you were, your shooting or was it something else?
"I could shoot better than anybody. I really couldn't dribble back then, but I could shoot. All I could do was stand out there and shoot."
When I talked to your coach, he told me that your brother, Chris Moore, was a good player. Was he the one who taught you how to shoot?
"He and my dad (Olton Todd). They made me play when I was 6 or 7 years old. My big brother used to push me around and made me cry. I hated it then, but it really helped me. Now, I try to play every minute that I can. The coach has to make me leave the gym."
You discovered you had talent and decided to go out for the team. Coach Thompson said you were pretty small as a freshman.
"I was short, probably around 5-6."
How much did you play your freshman year?
"I played on the 9th grade team. Coach told me if I played good he would move me up to the high school team. In one game, I hit 9 threes and he moved me up. I can still remember my first game in high school. I was coming down the floor on a fast break and pulled up and made a three-pointer."
Did you feel comfortable playing against the older guys in high school?
"It really didn't bother me because I had been playing against my brother at home."
So you would say your older brother was a lot of help getting you to where you are now?
"He and my dad are who got me to where I am today. We also used to play against Coach Thompson a lot growing up. He helped me as well."
You played well as a freshman. How did you do your sophomore year?
"There were a lot of stars on the team my sophomore year. (Coach) would put me in because he knew I wasn't scared to shoot. I took a starter's spot and I'm still in the lineup."
How many points did you score your sophomore year?
"I averaged about 17 points per game that year."
Would you say your strongest point is your shooting ability?
"I can pass also. I can help others score, but my strong point is I can shoot."
I've been around guys that were great shooters. Whereas most folks doubt that they can make the long range shots, the shooters that I have been around doubt that they will miss. Is that the type mentality that you have?
"I believe I can hit at least 10 out of 25 from anywhere past the mid-court line."
You mentioned that you once made nine three-pointers during a game in the 9th grade. What is the most three-pointers that you have made while on the high school team?
"Eight. I made all 8 of them in one quarter, in the second quarter."
Eight in one quarter? Were they just not guarding you or were you hot?
"They were guarding me. They were playing a 1-3-1. I hit three in a row and they started pulling out on me, but I just hit them from further out."
So you can shoot the threes from pretty far out?
"I can shoot them from NBA range if I have to."
Coach Thompson mentioned to me that other schools have really taken notice of you because of your shooting ability. Have you noticed them playing you a little differently now?
"They won't play a zone defense. They'll stick a man in front of me. They don't want to give me a good look at the basket."
Even though teams are guarding you tougher than in the past, you still did very well this season. Your coach said you averaged 30.5 points per game.
"I still did well. A lot of times they would put a shorter man on me but I could post him up. They might put a guard on me that is 6' who is quick and he would follow me everywhere I went. But I could still shoot over him because he was shorter."
You mentioned that you can shoot over a shorter guy even though he is quick. You are 6-4 and sometimes the taller guards aren't really quick. Do you feel you have good quickness?
"I am not satisfied, but I'm quick enough. But I'm going to work to get quicker."
You are a great shooter and have a lot of basketball skills, but your coach said the one thing you need to work on is your strength.
"I'm trying to work on that. I've been lifting weights. My dad just purchased some weights for me."
You mentioned that you are going to work on your quickness and your strength. What are some other things that you feel you need to improve?
Currye hesitated for a few seconds thinking about my question then said, "my ball-handling, it's alright."
I interviewed Lamar Sanders from Hickory Flat High School recently. You went against him this past season. How did you do against him?
"I hit 29. On defense, he blocked my shot a few times. He can really jump. His arms are so long I couldn't get my shot over him very easily. I had to back him up with my dribble and then shoot."
Switching over to recruiting, have you started receiving many letters from colleges yet?
"I'm just now starting to receive letters."
Who are some of the schools that you are receiving letters from?
"Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, SMU, and Memphis are about it right now."
I know you have unofficially visited Mississippi State for a basketball game. Have you unofficially visited any other schools?
"I go to Memphis and watch a lot of games there. I have some friends in Memphis."
Have you grown up a fan of any particular school.
Have you even thought about what schools you are the most interested in?
"It is really too early. I'm just trying to have fun now and will deal with the recruiting next year."
Did you go to any camps last summer?
"I went to the Ole Miss camp." (Earlier in our conversation, Currye mentioned that Lamar Sanders was also at the camp. - Gene)
What camps do you plan on attending next summer?
"I'm going to try and go down to the (Mississippi) State camp this summer. I'm also going to try and go to the Nike or ABC camp and see how good I really am." (The Nike and ABC camps are summer all-star camps that the nation's best players attend. - Gene)
Coach Thompson mentioned that you have a sister, Brittany, that is a pretty good basketball player. She is just a 7th grader and is already 5-9?
"Yes sir, she is big. I'm trying to help her. She already thinks she can beat me (laugh)."
Tell me a little bit about Brittany.
"She is bigger than all the other girls and she knows how to play because she has been watching us since she was little."
How long has she been playing basketball?
"Since she was about five."
How good of an athlete is she?
"She plays more than one sport. She can play softball, basketball and just about anything."
What do you think will be her primary sport?
"Basketball. She is going to get taller. She is only 13 years old right now."
Speaking of getting taller, do you think you will get any taller?
"I may grow a little more. The summer breaks of my 9th and 10th grades is when I really grew. I even grew an inch this year."
Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed, Currye.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.