1-on-1 with Kendall Marshall

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --- Kendall Marshall returned to the CP3 Elite Guard Camp this year with a different mindset. His last trips here were to prove he belonged; now he's out to prove he's one of the nation's best. InsideCarolina.com caught up with the rising Tar Heel sophomore point guard for an exclusive interview ...

What's the camp experience been like here?
"It's been great. You're talking about one of the best players in the NBA (in Chris Paul), as well as the best point guard in the NBA. He just has so much knowledge to offer to us. Being able to compete against the other best college players in the country, it brings a lot to the game. Last year I came in and I was very timid, I was happy to be there and things like that. This year, I want to show that I'm one of the top guards in the country."

"I want to show that I'm one of the top guards in the country."
How was going against Chris Paul in one-on-one drills on Friday night?
"I have to give credit to Raymond Felton for that. I've been going at him for the past two or three weeks every single day. He's been going at me and getting me better. Now, when I play against a player like Chris Paul, they're eerily similar with the speed and strength. It's still a challenge because they're both great players but I'm just happy I can compete with them now."

Who's impressed you so far at camp?
"I've been paying special attention to players like Jordan Taylor from Wisconsin since we'll be playing against them this year. He's a very strong, very fundamentally sound player so I'm looking forward to going against him."

You guys had a few exchanges in that drill last night. What was that like?
"It was good. You want to get the best of each other, since we're going to be playing each other just to leave that lasting image in each other's mind."

What has Coach Williams asked you to work on this summer?
"Main thing he wanted me to work on is just my body – just being more durable, knowing that I'm going to play an extended amount of time the entire season this year. Flexibility, taking care of my body and stuff like that. Also, my lateral quickness – being able to keep point guards in front of me. He just wants me to keep getting up shots, keeping improving my three-point ability. With all the weapons we're going to have next year, teams are going to want to sag against me and Dex (Dexter Strickland), so we have to be able to keep the defense honest."

What alumni have been back to play pickup this summer? What's the atmosphere at those games been like?
"The first couple of weeks, it was just the college guys going against each other and you could pretty much do what you want. But lately, we've got Rasheed Wallace, David Noel, Jawad Williams, Raymond Felton, Jackie (Manuel). It's a different ball game. They bring a different energy to the game, a different strength to the game. They're out there talking; they know how to rotate on defense. We're just learning bit by bit and trying to take our games to the next level."

"It didn't surprise me (that Barnes, Henson and Zeller returned), because I know how much winning means to them."
When did you know that Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes were coming back? Do you think playing with a point guard like yourself was a determining factor?
"I knew when the rest of the country found out, when they announced it. It didn't surprise me, because I know how much winning means to them. They want to leave their stamp on Carolina, the way 2005 won a championship and 2009 won a championship. We have those same expectations, so we want to do the same thing."

What's the single, biggest key to winning a national championship next year?
"Defense, without a doubt. We're going to be able to score next season. We're going to be more naturally talented than a lot of teams. But, you know basketball is a team sport so we have to be able to stop teams. We're going to have to be able to win games in the 50s, 60s, 70s as well as the 80s and 90s."

Which of your teammates has improved the most so far this summer?
"The biggest strides I've seen being made is probably Harrison. He's learned to be more efficient with his moves, learning how to get his shot off easier, as well as John Henson with his strength and offensively being able to knock down that 10-foot jump shot. He's impressed me with that."

How much did team chemistry play into the turnaround last season and what impact will it have on next year's team?
"It did, has and will play a big role. We realized when everything happened how close we had to become. When it happened we saw the dividends that it paid. We started winning and we started having more fun throughout the year. Nobody wants to be away from Chapel Hill – everyone geinunely likes being there around each other. I think that's big for us – a lot of teams… there's nothing wrong with it, but not everyone gets along. For our team everybody gets along very well, we eat together, we go out together, we work out together, everything is done together."

Have you ever been on a team this close?
"Never, I can't say that I have."

Do you think Twitter and social networking have changed the way fans and other players view you?
"I feel like if fans and media see the Kendall away from basketball, they'll want to get to know me as a person and they can see just what kind of guy I am. That's how I try to use stuff like Twitter, just to connect with fans and people out there. Let them know that I'm still a regular kid, I just happen to play basketball."

How has your life changed since you were at this camp last June?
"It's changed big time. Like I said, last year I was just happy to be here. I'm looking at players that I looked up to that are in the camp with me. Like Corey Fisher, I grew up a big fan of his and now I have to play against him. I guess you could say I was kind of star-struck. But this time I came in and said ‘OK, I'm Kendall Marshall now. Let me show you who I am.' I say the biggest change has been my mindset. Just going out there with an aggressive mentality, in every thing that I do."

"The past year puts a stamp on everything the Carolina family and the 'Carolina Way' means to me."
There's been a group of players that came and left Carolina, that didn't seem to buy into the "Carolina Way." Do you think that experience and the "Carolina Way" have changed – and what does the "Carolina Way" mean to you?
"I don't think it's changed at all. It takes a special type of person and player to be in this program. That's not a knock on anybody, sometimes it just doesn't fit the mold. It's why some players don't go to certain colleges, it just doesn't fit the way they play. The past year puts a stamp on everything the Carolina family and the "Carolina Way" means to me. Everything from the pros coming back every summer. I always thought when I left college I'd be done with it, just like I am with high school. It's just a different atmosphere, people really like being around the university and the campus. Players come back and still take classes, it just shows you how close we are."

Have you gotten to know the former players outside of pickup games? Do you consider them friends?
"Definitely. Everyday after pickup, they'll sit around and talk. I may not have anything to contribute to the conversation, but I just listen. I just sit there and listen to stories they have about playing in the league or overseas or when they were teammates at Carolina. It really gives you perspective about how close they are."

How familiar are you with the incoming recruiting class? What do you know about them and what do you think they can contribute?
"I know they fit the mold of exactly what we need. Last year, we struggled 3-point shooting and now we have P.J. Hairston for that. In the frontcourt, we just had Zeller, Henson and Knox. This year now we'll have Jackson (Simmons) who if need be will play, you have (James Michael) McAdoo, who is probably going to play big minutes and you have Desmond (Hubert), who is basically a prototype John (Henson) that just has to get better. Stilman (White), I could see him coming in and giving me a couple of minutes for when I need a break. They fit what we need, we're just trying to build on where we ended last year, remember that feeling and keep on going from there."

Are you excited to play with James Michael again?
"James Michael (laughs). I don't know what that's about – to me he's still ‘Big Mac.' I'm excited to play with him again and see how he's developed. I remember the chemistry we had during AAU (with the Boo Williams EYBL team)."

How long did it take you to get over the Kentucky loss?
"It took me three or four days. I still thought about it after that time, but you start to reflect on everything we accomplished last year and all of the trials and tribulations we went through and I couldn't be anything but happy with what we accomplished."

Is anything less than a championship next season a disappointment to you?
"We're not focused on that. We're focused on taking it one game at a time. We don't want to be at our best in November and December, we want to be our best in April."

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