One on One With Ravern Johnson

Mississippi State sophomore basketball player Ravern Johnson was part of a team made up of college players from the United States that played four games in the Dominican Republic during a week-long mission and basketball trip through SCORE International.

You traveled to the Dominion Republic this past summer. Was that the first time you have traveled out of the country?
"It was. I was asked to go before my freshman year here, but I didn't go that time. But I wanted to this time."

What was it like where you went?
"When we first got there the kids took us by our hand and took us to where they lived. It was really poor and poor living conditions"

Other than play basketball what did you guys do?
"We took food to a village. We visited an orphanage, too."

What had the biggest impact on you during your trip?
"Visiting the girls orphange and spending time with them."

After visiting there, did it make you feel differently about living here?
"It did. My family doesn't have a lot of money, but we are much better off than the way they live there."

Switching to the basketball part of the trip. How many games did your team play and how did you do?
"We got beat pretty good the first game (77-49), although we made a little run at the end. We wound up winning one of four games during the trip. We beat a team from Washington, D.C. In the other three games we played Dominican Republic teams, one that was really good and another one that was pretty good."

The first Dominican Republic team you played had some NBA players on it, didn't it?
"It did. It had three NBA players on it."

Did you go against any of them during the game? If so, how did you do?
"I did. I went up against Fransico Garcia. I thought I did ok. He scored 16 points while I scored 17."

Did you learn anything playing against that caliber of player?
"Yeah, they did a lot of screens and checks. They really played well as a team."

Speaking of team play, MSU assistant coach Marcus Grant, who was a guest on my Bully BarkLine Show Tuesday night, said you can be a very good defensive specialist for the current Bulldog team due to your size and athletic ability. How much better defensively are you now compared to when you were in high school?
"I've gottten a lot better since high school and since last season."

Under Rick Stansbury, you don't get minutes unless you play defense. In high school you weren't really a great defensive player. What did you do to get the amount of time that you received last season?
"I just played hard and worked hard on the defensive end. I just tried to play tougher."

You are 6-7, 187 pounds. You aren't exactly a big, physical type player. How does a guy your size play tough?
"You just have to have that kind of mindset."

Of the players you go against in practice, who helps you the most defensively?
"Barry (Stewart) is probaby the quickest. To me, he has the best defense on the team. He understands how to play defense. I just make sure I watch the things that he does in practice."

What are some things you still need to work on?
"Ball handling is something I really need to work on."

Which newcomers have impressed you the most?
"Everyone of them have looked good.

"Dee Bost is a good point guard. He can shoot the ball. Antiquawn Beckham is another point guard. He's more of a true point guard. He would rather pass than shoot. Romero (Osby) is a big, physical guy down low who can shoot. And he's very versatile so he will be hard to guard. Jacquiese Holcombe just plays hard. He is not going to let you score on him because he's going to go hard all the time. And he's going to the board hard."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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