JH: You're going to do down as one of the greats in the history of Oklahoma basketball. What led you to signing with Oklahoma coming out of high school in New Orleans?
HP: I'll be honest with you, I really didn't know anything about Oklahoma. I knew about Waymon Tisdale. I got here I realized Waymon Tisdale played here. But until I came here I really didn't know a whole lot about Oklahoma.
They did a great job recruiting me. Coach (Jason) Rabadeaux, who is now at UTEP, we had a relationship for about eight months and he did a great job. Once I came on my visit I fell in love with OU.
JH: Did OU discover you during high school ball or during your great run in AAU ball during your junior summer?
HP: I think it started during AAU ball. We had a pretty good team. We won the national championship. We had Bernard King, who is now at Texas A&M, and a few other guys.
JH: Bernard King has never met a shot he didn't like. How did you ever get a shot off with that team?
HP: I was the point guard so I to shot the ball whenever I wanted (laughs).
JH: What schools did you grow up rooting for?
HP: I really liked Michigan because of the "Fab Five". I'm sure everybody liked them. I was more of a baseball fan then basketball. I didn't play (organized baseball). I only played park ball. I think I picked up basketball when I was only 11 or 12 years old.
JH: Talk about your speed speed on the court. I imagine you don't run into many players who are quicker then you?
HP: No, I don't. But this year we played against Texas and T.J. Ford — he's pretty quick himself.
JH: You recently had offseason surgery for the second year in a row. What caused your latest injury and how are you recovering from surgery?
HP: My tendon pulled away from my bone in my foot. I had surgery four weeks ago. Everything is going good right now. The Lord is on my side again. Last year I had surgery on my elbow, and the Lord is on my side once again. I'm off the crutches and I'm rehabbing and everything is going good right now. Hopefully, I'll be out of my boot in a week or so and I'll get ready to get back on the court.
Your going to be attending Michael Jordan's summer basketball camp this summer. Did you ever think you'd get a shot to play against MJ?
HP: No, but I dream about it. It (camp) it gives us a chance to play against him and with other college players to. Ebi (Ere) is going also.
JH: You've always managed to play through injuries. Being the little guy you are, how did you get so physically tough to play through the injuries you've had during your career?
HP: Injuries shouldn't stop you unless you're really injured. You've got to battle through things in life and injuries are something, if you're a basketball player, that you've just got to battle through.
I think it comes from me growing up also. Back at home in my neighborhood we had older guys pushing on me, just roughing me up a little bit. I used to lose my temper a lot when I was younger, but I learned to control it.
It was tough. I wouldn't say I had to protect myself because everybody knew my family, so nobody really messed with me.
JH: What were some of the key reasons your offensive game has really evolved and improved over the last season?
HP: We brought in a great point guard — Quannas White — who I know a lot. Two years ago I was doing the same thing putting in numbers like I did last year, but that wasn't when we had J.R. Raymond. I kind of tailed off and started looking for him more when I was at the point guard. Last year was just a blessing making the shots that I was making. I was just blessed to do the things that I did.
JH: Talk about the fact that you had such a great year despite the fact you came off of a serious surgery on your shooting elbow last summer
HP: After the surgery last summer, I couldn't even shoot past the block.I stayed in the gym a whole lot last year. I don't know how many hours I was in there, but I was in the gym a long time just working on my shot. I started shooting close shots first and then moved back. Once I just got comfortable shooting the three, it just took off. As the season progressed I think my arm got stronger and I got more confidence.
JH: I couldn't shoot past the block.Why are you a better scoring as an off-guard then at the point?
HP: I think my speed allows me to get ahead of the ball. I also have Quannas kick the ball up, so I can beat guys off the dribble or also pull up and get other people involved.
JH: When did you know at the beginning of last year the team was in for something special? Or did the success of last year's team even catch you off guard a little bit?
HP: I knew it was going to be special after the Michigan State game. Once we got back in town we were on the bus and we knew we had two weeks without a game. We knew we had to do something and it was quick. We really didn't know how to win on the road. It was our first test and we were a young team. Those next two weeks of practice helped us out a whole lot. Everybody rededicated themselves.
Once we got back off that two-week wait we had a game against Central Michigan. We promised each other we were going to do our best and go out there and play hard. After that game we showed how good we could be and we just took off.
JH: What made last year's team so special?
HP: We had great leadership. Aaron McGhee did a great job of doing his job. Everybody just played their role.
JH: How close are you and Quannas, who you played high school ball with in New Orleans?
HP: That's my man. That's my best friend. I'm probably the more vocal guy and he's the more laid back guy.
JH: So when you guys go through the drive through at McDonalds you always order, right?
HP: No, no. Whoever is closest to the window orders (laughs).
JH: Talk about White's game
HP: He's becoming one of the best point guards in the Big 12, and also the nation. It's hard to stop him once he gets inside the paint. Because of his strength, it's hard to knock him off balance.
JH: Are you surprised Aaron McGhee didn't get drafted in the NBA draft?
HP: Yeah, I was upset. I thought he was going to get picked. But that's how it works, I guess. It's a business and they're going to pick the players they need.
JH: What was it like to play in so many big game atmospheres on your run to the final four last year?
HP: It was great. You get that feeling of one-and-done. The pressure is on for everybody and you don't want to lose that first game of the NCAA or Big 12 Tournament. Winning the Big 12 last year, we knew we had something to prove because of Kansas going 16-0 in the regular season. We wanted to stop those guys from going undefeated.
JH: Oklahoma showed no fear against Kansas last year. You blew them out in Kansas City and even when you got behind them on the road, you came back. Do you think last year was the year Oklahoma finally showed they were equal with Kansas?
HP: Being down by 20 points in the second half and coming back showed a lot about our mental toughness and how good Oklahoma basketball has become. To come back on a team like Kansas was tough, but we found a way to do it and then we found a way to win in the Big 12 tournament.
JH: You also made some progress overcoming some early round demons in the NCAA tournament
HP: The past few seasons we learned a whole lot. My freshmen year we lost to Purdue and my sophomore year we lost to Indiana State. I think we learned a lot about taking every game as your last, and our seniors, last year, did a great job of that.
JH: What was the atmosphere and experience like playing in the Final Four?
HP: It was an amazing experience. The week of it, I really didn't feel like we had made it to the Final Four. Once we got to Atlanta it was something else. We got police escorts everywhere we went. And at practice we had like 25,000 people. I had never practiced in front of 25,000 people. That was something else.
JH: How has everyone been looking so far in the offseason pickup games.
HP: Everybody is looking real good. Johnnie Gilbert has improved his game a whole lot. Johnnie added a little jumpshot to his game. People are going to have to respect him this year. All the new guys really look good — D'Angelo Alexander and Blake Johnston really look good.
JH: How has Jabahri Brown looked?
HP: Jabahri is doing a great job. He's starting to get a lot of confidence in his scoring now.
JH: What's your impression of Kevin Bookout?
HP: He's huge. He's a banger and we need a guy like that. I got tired of watching because I can't be out there (laughs). Everytime they go play I just watch film.
JH: Will you approach this season any differently after going to the final four last year?
HP: We'll do it the same way we did last year. We've got to work harder because we know we're the hunted now. We're used to being the hunter and now we're the hunted. We've got to go hard in every aspect of the game.
JH: Once your playing days are over is coaching in your future?
HP: I want to coach, but I want to coach the little kids. It depends on what comes to me. If I can get a college job, I'll be happy with that also.
One-on-one with Hollis Price
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