One-on-one with Taj Gray

Oklahoma forward Taj Gray talks about what he's doing to improve his game and which newcomers are looking good in the offseason pickup games. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

OU senior center Taj Gray has been selected to tryout for the USA 21 and Under Select Team that won the gold medal last season under Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. Gray continues to be one of the Sooners hardest workers as he labors through the summer conditioning program under the leadership Darby Rich.

Earlier today, Gray sat down with to talk about his workouts and his opportunity to play for the United States

JH: Congratulations on being selected to participate in the trials for the U.S. 21 and Under Select Team. What are your thoughts on the opportunity?

TG: "I am just happy to get selected to be a part of something like that. To get a chance to go out and represent my country is a dream come true. Hopefully, I will go and make the team and get a chance to go over there and represent my country in the best way that I know how."

JH: You were a great player in junior college, but you have become almost a household name in college basketball since you have been at OU. Has that been a big adjustment for you?

TG: "Yeah, kind of I guess. Just being here and playing with guys like (Kevin) Bookout and Drew (Lavender) made it easy for me and allowed me to relax and feel comfortable. If anything, they made it where I could be comfortable and feel like I belong with the team. They made me feel like I had a good feel for the team."

JH: Coach Sampson coached that team to a gold medal last year, and I am sure his insight has to be a benefit for you. What has he told you about the tryout that may help you in your effort?

TG: "Yeah, he has told me some things to do to get ready. He just told me to go in there and play my game. He told me to do what I know how to do, to go in there have fun, but to play hard. He stressed for me to do what I feel is comfortable."

JH: Are you doing anything different to get ready for the trials or are you just continuing with your summer workouts?

TG: "No, I am not going to change a lot of things. I am just going to continue to do things that I normally do. I am not going to go in there and do some outlandish stuff that I can't do. I am just going to go in there and play my game and do what I know I can do."

JH: How are the summer workouts going for you?

TG: "They are going good. Our workouts are always tough, and playing with these guys (teammates) is always going to be tough. Guys are getting better every day. Chris Walker, Austin Johnson and Taylor Griffin are getting better every day in the weight room, and when they come down to play you can see it. They are working hard."

JH: So the team's conditioning is right on schedule in your opinion?

TG: "It is getting there, but we are still conditioning. Maybe it is the fear of conditioning that keeps pushing us. I think we are pretty fit in our conditioning."

JH: You mentioned to me after the season that you wanted to improve your shooting. What are you working on in your individual game?

TG: "I am still concentrating on the mid-range jumper. I am knocking it down a lot better. I am still working on the same thing in the offseason that I did during the season. I am working on my left and right hand, dribble skills and those kinds of things. I am just continuing to work on everything in my game."

JH: Who has impressed you at workouts thus far?

TG: "It has been all the new guys coming in. They have shown us they are ready to play. Austin has come in here and worked hard. He gets off the ground well and is a great athlete. Taylor comes in here and is a man. He is so big, but has quickness. It is hard to hold him. Of course, Chris comes in here and has a big role to fill at point guard. Just watching those three guys every day has been impressive."

JH: I hear Taylor is a very tough player, so are you guys battling every day in drills?

TG: "Yeah we are, but right now it has been more me and Longar (Longar) battling every day. Taylor and Nate (Carter) hook up more every day and Taylor and I do. Between us four, it has been a good battle every day."

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