I just will probably be thinking about my first days on campus, my freshman year, that summer. It's been a long road.
What did you think during those early days at NC State?
I thought it was going to be a great college experience. NC State has a great history, a great coach, a great coaching staff, great style of play, and great fans. It was great for me. I've had my ups and downs, but overall, we think I've had a great run here. We went to the NCAA Tournament three times so far.
You've come on strong lately. Is it just a sense of urgency, or have you changed something?
I just have continued to work hard during practice all year, and it's starting to pay off for me right now.
You've been taking a lot of shots lately. Is that by design, or is it just that you're the one that happens to be open to take the shots?
I happen to be the one open to take the shots.
You've lost an awful lot of weight since you got here. How has that affected your game?
I think it's made me a better player overall. When I first got here, I think I weighed 286 or something like that, when I first came on campus. But they trimmed me down and got me in shape. I feel it in my game a lot – shooting, jumping, running. It helped me a lot.
What do you weigh now?
What was your body fat at 286, do you remember? What is it now?
It was like over 20, I think. It's at nine now.
You were 0-for-7 on three-pointers as a freshman. Can you talk about your improvement in that aspect of the game?
I just think it's been routine, just getting in the gym and keep shooting and shooting and shooting. I think that's what helped me a lot.
Do you have the green light at any time now?
I'm not sure. I just shoot it.
Who in your family is coming down to Senior Night?
My mother and father, my brother, girlfriend, my best friend from high school, my brother's best friend. They're all coming down for the game.
Did anyone talk to you about the DeMatha tradition of sending players to NC State?
I know them a little bit. I know Whittenburg and Lowe, I know them and talked to them a little bit. I spoke to Carr a couple of times, so I know them.
Carr will be at the ACC Tournament. Will you get a chance to talk to him there?
I probably will.
What do you think about the ACC Tournament being in D.C.?
I think it will be great going to D.C. The MCI Center has a great atmosphere and the ACC Tournament, there's no other conference tournament that's better than it in the country. The ACC is so balanced this year, so I think it'll be a great tournament.
What has been the key for this team in the last five games?
I think the big key has been our defense. Our defense got us out for easy transition baskets on the road, and at home, we just feed off of our fans.
So the problem earlier in the year was you weren't playing defense?
We were playing defense, but we weren't really concentrating on certain things that we work on in the scouting report. Teams would beat us for offensive rebounds or they would get to a loose ball before us. So I think lately, these last couple of games, we're beating teams for loose balls and defensive rebounding more.
What's been the reason for that turnaround?
I think continuing to work hard in practice. It's something we've been preaching in practice, and that helps us out.
What has the return of Tony Bethel meant to this team?
It helps a lot to bring Tony back. Tony brings a different … He brings like more fire to the game, more intensity out there, because he loves to play basketball.
Wake Forest's Eric Williams likes to get deep post position. How hard is it to root him out of the lane?
It's very difficult, but I think maybe myself and Ced [Simmons] will probably end up fronting him in the post and rely on our teammates on the help side helping us out.
What are you expecting from this game with Wake Forest, with all that's at stake?
I think it will be great college game. I think they're playing for first place in the league, regular season, and I think we're playing for fourth place, so it's going to be a great game.
What would it mean to finish in the upper division all four of your years here?
That means a lot. It means I've been part of a great team here at NC State these past four years.
With all that could happen to the standings this weekend, will you watch the Saturday games to see what unfolds?
I think we probably won't even worry about the games on Saturday. I think we're just going to worry about winning the game on Sunday. That's all we can control.
Can you talk about your outside shooting? It seems like you're really causing matchup problems.
It's more or less that opponents are helping out when our guards post up. When the big man goes down to help, I just spot up and usually, most of the time, I'm wide open, so I take my time and try to knock it down.
Is your success out there partly because other big men aren't used to it?
I think they're not used to guarding out there. That's probably what it is.
Is there anything you can use from the second half of the first Wake Forest game to help you Sunday night?
I think our defensive effort in the second half of the Wake Forest game was good, so I think we'll probably try to carry that over to this game coming up on Sunday.
Is this a more confident team right now?
I think we're a more hard-working team. We've been working hard in practice over the last couple of weeks and I think that's paying off for us great right now.
With so much at stake, how do you feel about, basically, all of the team's goals coming down to one game?
I feel it's a great challenge for us. We worked hard all season and it's all going to come down to one game. Not all one game because we have the ACC Tournament, but it basically comes down to one game. So I think our team will rise to the occasion.
Did the improvement of Cedric Simmons push you down the stretch?
I think Cedric pushed me a little bit, and we pushed each other all year … I think we push each other each day in practice. He did push me a little bit to pick it up.
Do you feel the first Wake Forest game is when you turned it around?
That's where it kind of turned around for me. I just felt I had to be more aggressive on the court.
How tough will it be to overcome the pregame emotions of Senior Night?
I think you have to reset yourself and realize about what's at stake during this game, so I think I'll be able to do it.
You and Levi Watkins have known each other for years. What will it mean to share that Senior Night experience with him?
I think it will be great. Me and Levi have known each other since high school and we played against each other in high school. We've been through a lot together these last couple of years, and I think it will be great for us.
Levi has had so many injuries. How has he handled those?
I think it's been very tough for him, but he's a very strong-willed individual. I think he's been able to battle back. When he tore his ACL, he battled back and was right back in the mix of things. And when he hurt his MCL the last time, he battled back and is about to get right back into the mix of things. So I think he's a very strong-willed individual.