What have you learned from those former players of Coach Williams who you have talked to that you didn't already know?
They said he's a pretty clean-cut guy, but in practice he's going to get on you. You won't like him some days, but he's always going to respect you, he's always going to teach you the game of basketball, and he's always going to teach you life lessons. You will learn a lot from him.
Would you still be here if Coach Williams wasn't here?
I don't know. Thoughts were running through my head last year about transferring, like maybe this wasn't the best place for me. But Coach Williams is here, so I don't know what would have happened if someone else had been here. I would like to say yes.
I love Carolina, and I'm happy that I came here. The situation worked out great for me right now. Last year wasn't the ideal situation with my team not doing so well and with me getting injured. Right now I'm really excited for what's ahead of me and my team.
With Sean's injury last year, you probably played more than you expected before the season. What did you work on over the summer that you learned you needed to work on from your experience last year?
I worked on a lot of things, [but mostly] my ability to finish around the basket. I noticed that was weak at times. I worked on rebounding, shooting, and my strength.
How have you faired against Sean in pick-up games so far this year?
On offense I usually try to make a move and try to shoot a jump shot over him because it's hard to get to the basket. I have some success, but it's hard to get to the basket because he's so big and blocks shots all the time.
From the little time that you've been able to spend with Coach Williams, what do you think about him, and how will you fit in?
I think he's cool and laid-back. He wants what is best for his team, and that's with everybody. As for how I fit in, I think I fit in well because we are going to do a lot of running. I like to get out in the open floor and do a lot of things. Once we get that going, we'll have a great season.
He really hasn't told anybody what he expects. He said he's going to start everyone from a clean slate. He hasn't watched any games from last year. He's going to start from the first day of practice to se what we can do and what we can't do.
What have you learned from Coach Williams that you are excited about for this year?
Everything is run-n-shoot. Everything is fast-paced, no matter what you are doing. If you are just shooting a 3-point shot, it's always a full sprint to the 3-point line to be able to knock down the jump shot. Everything is fast-paced up and down the court.
Are you amused that people assume it's a forgone conclusion that this is your last year here?
I've heard that a lot. I heard it constantly for the whole summer and since I've been back to school. But I'm not thinking about that situation. I'm focusing on what I have to do this year. The NBA is not in my mind right now. I'm focused on this season, to lead my team to as many victories as possible, to the Final Four.
After last year, you were somewhat of a walking M*A*S*H unit it seemed, with all the injuries. How are things in that regard?
I wouldn't say that. I had a torn meniscus in the pre-season last year, but I didn't get that operated on until May. I had that operated on. I also had a few torn ligaments in my thumb, so I couldn't practice at the end of the season. I had those repaired. Now I'm just trying to get my legs healthy and get stronger.
You look about the same weight as last year--is that about right? Do you want to play at this weight, and do you favor playing in the up-tempo style that Coach Williams likes?
My weight is the same as last year. Weight is not a factor right now. It's no big deal for me. At seven feet, I can carry weight. I just had some knee issues. I needed to get my legs stronger. And my meniscus led to all those problems--playing with that all season. With that taken care of, hopefully things will work out fine.
It really doesn't matter what I favor. It's what Coach Williams wants. If he wants me to run the floor 20 minutes or however long, that's what I'll do. He's a great coach, and he's not going to tell me something to have me fail. Whatever he wants is exactly what I'll give to him.
What is your best interpretation of the atmosphere around the UNC basketball program now, compared to last year?
It's very simple--everybody just has that little extra step and everybody is eager and excited, waiting for the season to kick off.
I'm not trying to put words into your mouth here, but I got the sense last year that there wasn't a feeling of mutual respect and trust. Are you getting that sense this year?
Assumptions aren't good for the most part, but last year I had the same feeling in the beginning. I was eager, ready to talk to the media, and ready to play. That's not going to change every game or at the beginning of every season, but through the course of [last] season things changed. Regardless of what happened during the season, some feelings changed, decisions were made, and now we are here.