When coach Sidney Lowe talks about that leadership role for you, is it something that comes naturally to you or something the staff has to remind you of from time to time?
"It definitely hasn't come natural to me, because I'm not a very outspoken person, or a person who does that. But I think in every situation where I've been the upperclassmen, such as like middle school or high school, when I've been the junior or senior, then that's when
"I've kind of taken over that role. I think everybody as a freshman or sophomore needs to go through the role of playing the back part and just observing and listening to the older people. But then, once it's your turn, you need to step up."
Is an international trip that allows you to get a jumpstart on your college career something that can benefit any freshman, or is too much too soon for some guys?
"It definitely could [help]; it wouldn't necessarily hurt. The experience during your freshman year can only help. Like I said before, any time that you have to be around your teammates and time to get to hang out and play together, it can't help but be a good thing."
What is the sense you get around campus for the approach of basketball?
"For the most part, everybody is excited. All the people that we know who have had class with us or who see us on campus, I don't think that they could say anything bad about us; they all like us. For the most part, yes, the mood is 'We're ready for basketball season.'"
As a team leader and one of the elder statesman of NC State basketball, you're going to be a guy that prospective recruits want to talk to about your experiences. What will you tell them?
"I'm going to tell them the truth, and that's what I was told when I came on my visit and I think that's what people respect.
"So if they come here and ask me about the situation and Coach Lowe, I'm going to tell them how I feel about Coach Lowe; I feel he's a good coach, he's a great coach and a good person who is looking out for your best interests. I'm going to say NC State is a great school because I love it and I'm getting my degree from here, I've been here four years, it's been a positive experience. I'm going to say, like everybody told me, 'I'm not swaying you either way; just make sure you have all the facts before you make an informed decision.'"
When former coach Herb Sendek left, how important was the return of long-time assistant Larry Harris in swaying guys to stay aboard?
"It played a big role in a lot of the people on our team. Myself, personally, I probably wasn't going to go anywhere. I very briefly looked into going back home because I was coming off my injury and I was a little homesick, but I didn't really entertain that very much.
But Coach Harris coming back definitely affected a lot of us, myself, Courtney Fells, Gavin, Cedric … everybody just knew what type of person he was and was very comfortable with him."
Most people know that golf is one of teammate Ben McCauley's loves. Did he get you hooked?
"Yeah, I play a lot of golf, me and Ben go all the time. We're really the ones who play the most on the team, me and Ben and Trevor [Ferguson] is starting to. It is a hard game to pick up."
Much of the leadership will fall to you and Ben and fellow fourth-year player Courtney Fells. Do those times on the golf course help you and Ben become better leaders?
"It does. Once again, we're just always together, and anything that you're doing together can't help but make your relationship better."
You went to work out with former NBA coach John Lucas this summer. How did you get hooked up with Lucas, and how does he help your game?
"He's a workout guy; he works out NBA players in the offseason, he works out college players getting ready for the draft. Through my old AAU coach, I got in contact with him and I've just been going ever since."
What kind of competition did you face there?
"Not this year, but the year before that, T.J. Ford and J.R. Smith and Kendrick Perkins and Damon Stoudamire, and just countless people … Gerald Green, James Posey, Damon Jones,. And this year was no different; I mean, like D.J. Augustine, Charles Rose, J.R. Smith, T.J. Ford, Ivan McFarland, just countless amounts of talent down there, you can't help but get better."
When you're going up against some of the NBA guys you mentioned, is it difficult not to think of your future when it comes to professional hoops?
"It will always be there. I'm pretty sure if it's been around for a good 40, 50, countless years—professionally as well, NBA, or ABA or whatever—I'm pretty sure it's not going to go anywhere in the next one, two, three, four, whatever years. My whole goal in college was to earn my degree, and once I've done that, then I can move forward and look toward the professional things."