"I am coming to State. The prep school thing is off. I'm not going to do that now. What I am going to do is come (to State) next summer, starting in June, take summer school and work out with the team. I hope to gain some weight, get stronger and bigger and improve my skills. Then, if I can't get a scholarship by the end of the summer, depending on who comes and goes, it is more of a probability than a possibility that I would get a scholarship at the end of next year. I am going to try and do that."
If I'm understanding you correctly, you are saying that there is a possibility that you could get an athletic scholarship at the end of the summer if Mississippi State has one available?
From talking to you last fall, I know you are an excellent student. Is there a possibility that you may be able to get an academic scholarship?
"I am getting about $1,000 to $1,500 academic scholarship money because of my ACT score and MTAG."
Getting back to your decision about not going to prep school. Why did you decide to bypass prep school and go ahead and attend MSU next year?
"The idea of prep school wasn't really what I was aiming for. I wasn't going to get much academic credit out of it."
Didn't you get a similar offer from Ole Miss?
"Yes sir, they wanted me to walk-on and redshirt a year. They told me if I was better than who they were recruiting, then they would give me a scholarship."
You and your family, as you told me the last time we talked, are Ole Miss fans. What was it about State that caused you to make the decision to choose them over Ole Miss?
"They have been recruiting me for a long time, ever since last year's AAU Nationals. They have always been pretty good to me and I am very familiar with the coaches and players, moreso at State than Ole Miss. I decided I would be happy there because I am more familiar with it."
How tall are you now and how much do you weigh?
"I am 6-5 and 180. I hope to get to 195 to 200."
How did you do stats-wise this past season?
"I averaged about 23 points per game, somewhere around 8 or 9 rebounds, 3 assists per game and 2 or 3 blocked shots per game. We won the conference championship and second in the state. In the overall tournament, we lost in the quarter-finals to the eventual champion. I was pleased with the year." [Michael improved his stats from his junior season when he averaged 17 points per game, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.-Gene]
Do you feel you accomplished most of what you wanted to this year?
"I would have liked to have won the state championship, but that was the first time a Pillow team has been to the state championship in 20 years, so that was a big accomplishment."
Do you know of any honors that you earned this season?
"I made The Clarion-Ledger honorable mentioned All-State team this season."
Weren't you considered the top player in the academy ranks this season?
"Yes sir, they posted that at the beginning of the year."
What do you think are your strengths as a basketball player?
"Shooting the ball. I shot 45% from the three-point range, 50% from the field, and 83% from the free throw line. I shot around 180 three-point shots. I like to say my driving is good because I can get to the goal pretty good."
Do you consider yourself a pretty good athlete?
"Yes sir, I won the dunk contest this year that we had at the all-star game. I won with a 360 (degree dunk) and a windmill."
That is pretty good dunking. What is your vertical leap?
"I have no idea. I can dunk it standing flat-footed (under the basket) and just jumping up."
What are some parts of your game that you feel you need to improve?
"Gain more weight, improve on defense and improve on my intensity level because college is a lot different. I probably need to improve my ball-handling ability just a little bit more in the open court so I can handle the fastbreak."
That about does it. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Michael.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.