"It was a big transition last year because I didn't know what to expect. But since I know what to expect, it doesn't take as much out of me as it did last year. Last year, I was going to bed 8 or 9 o'clock during the summertime because I was so wiped out from the workouts. And that's something I had never done during the summer. It was just a different level than high school. This year, my mind has been more mentally prepared. And, physically, I had a year under my belt as far as doing all the exercises and weight lifting."
What improvements are you trying to make this summer?
"I am trying to improve my ball-handling, my shooting, my jump shot. And coach wants me to make sure that I am able to guard smaller players on the wing because I am going to be playing a lot of small forward this year."
Do you feel most comfortable playing small forward?
What do you realistically think this team can do this year if everybody plays up to their ability?
"If everybody brings their best to the table we have the chance to be a Final Four team. I think we have that type potential. We have everybody back, we have experience, we have some talented freshmen also that are going to learn as they go. Practices are going to be hard and competitive."
This team has a combination of veterans like Barry Stewart and Jarvis Varnado and young guys like you, Elgin and others. Would you say that's a strength of this team?
"Yes, we have a combination of youth that are still learning and we have people who are young like Ravern Johnson and Dee Bost who have started every SEC game. Then, we have veterans like Phil Turner, Jarvis and Barry who have been here four years. That combination really does help us."
I know there are a lot of strengths to this team. Is there one strength of this team that stands out above all the other strengths?
"Yes. I think it is hard work. We all work hard. We don't have a lot of people who take days off. We all try to get as much as we can out of playing basketball everyday."
A question mark among the young guys is freshman center John Riek. What is your impression of him based on what you've seen this summer?
"Riek is going to be good. He just has to get better at certain things, but that's only because he doesn't know them. And he hasn't played basketball for a year and a half. He's been out with a knee injury. I think he's getting better and better every day. And playing against Jarvis makes him better, too."
Has there been anything that surprised you about Riek?
"The fact that he can run the floor pretty good for a big man. Before he gets winded, he really runs the floor hard."
How tall and big is Riek?
"He is 7-2, about 247, 250."
What have you seen from freshman Shaunessy Smith this summer?
"He's back from his injury and he's looking pretty good. I think he's going to learn a lot from playing behind Barry and Riley (Benock), learn a lot offensively and defensively. But offensively he's already talented. He's naturally gifted at shooting and he works real hard also. Defensively, he's going to get better because coach (Stansbury) will teach him how to play D."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.