What have you personally done since the end of last season?
"I went to China in the spring and the adidas camp in the summer. They were both great experiences. It was good to work with other SEC guys during the China trip. And the adidas camp was guys from all over the nation. Just playing with those guys, competing everyday, learning things from the coaches was good for me."
How long were you in China and what do you remember about your trip? Things like the food, the culture.
"I think I was there for 12 days. China's Chinese food and America's Chinese food are two totally different things. Their food is not good at all. Me, Chuck, Robby Moss and Jerrell (Houston) all ended up eating rice with sugar on it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I tried other stuff just to say that I did try it, but it wasn't for me, at all. We looked forward to those times when we saw a KFC or a McDonald's in the big cities."
Did you lose much weight while you were in China?
"I lost about 7 or 8 pounds. But I've gained it back and I'm about 242 now. You want to lose some weight, go to China. It'll take the pounds off of you. (laugh)"
What are your personal objectives coming into this season?
"I want to step up and be confident in my offensive game as well as rebound the ball. I just want to defend, rebound and hit a couple of jump shots every now and then."
Is it exciting to you to have an expanded role on the team?
"Definitely. I have been wanting this role for some time, but we had so much talent and depth in the post. I played when I was asked to play. Now, every position is wide opened. It's fun to go out there with an entirely new group of faces."
What do you see your role as in practice?
"Right now, I try to come out and work hard everyday, be a leader. I try to lead by example and lead verbally, be that guy that gets on people, telling them what is the right way to do things."
Who are the leaders in practice other than you?
"Dietric Slater, Michael Boler. Dietric's more going 100% all the time and doing the right things. We have people who do right things non-verbally, but, right now, I'm one of the few people who get on people. We just need to get a couple more people like that and we'll be fine."
Are you comfortable in the leadership role? Does that fit your personality?
"I like the leadership role. Before, I didn't have the experience. Plus, we had a lot of older guys, guys my age who were playing (a lot). They were respected as leaders. Now, the team has voted me as a captain. I relish the role they voted me to. And I'll do it."
What have you seen from the freshmen in practice?
"They are all as good as advertised. And Jamont Gordon is an animal, an animal. He is going to step in right away and be very good because he can do so many things."
What is it about Gordon that is so impressive?
"He has the mentality of a middle linebacker. He goes out everyday and just tries to destroy you. He's a beast. He's out there crashing the boards, dunking, shooting threes, creating plays. He's great at passing the ball. Right now, he's playing better than what everybody expected from him. All of the other freshmen are coming along, but Jamont is definitely standing out as of right now."
What kind of offensive game does he have, outside shooting, creating shots, driving to the basket?
Is he the best that you've seen since you've been at State?
"Oh yeah, he's the best freshman that I have seen since I've been here, by far."
True freshman Vernon Goodridge is also a center. Have you tried to take him under your wing and help him out?
"I'm trying to. I'm trying to teach him the small aspects of the game of basketball. Vernon can run and jump with the best of them. He dunks everything. But it's the smaller things with him, things like the pivots, the post moves, sprinting everytime, calling for the ball. Things like that."
Coach Stansbury mentioned that this freshman group is never late for anything. Has that surprised you?
"I think so, because, in the past, we haven't had a group like that. At some point, somebody has missed something or being late for something. These freshmen have been on top of everything. They don't miss class, practice, study hall. It is impressive for a group of guys that age."
What is a typical day like for you right now?
"I get up at 4:55 a.m. I'm old by college basketball standards and it takes awhile for my body to get going. We have practice at six. I get to the gym, get dressed and put the heat packs on my back, knees, legs for about 5 or 10 minutes before we go out there. Then, we go through a practice that is normally an hour and ten minutes long. Then, I take a quick shower and ice my knees. We then have mandatory breakfast from 7 to 8:30. We then go to class, grab lunch, try to catch a nap somewhere in there. Then, we go back to the gym, get iced, treatment. All those type things. Then we practice at 3. After that, we go to dinner, study and go to bed. It's literally an all day thing."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.