One-On-One With Hollis Price

Oklahoma's senior All-American candidate talkes about the Sooners' upcoming 2002-03 season

It's hard to believe that this will be the senior year for Hollis Price. It seems he has been at OU forever and it is strange to talk to Price about his last year at OU. Isn't he the guy that will never run out of eligibility?

He has worked his way into elite status in college basketball and has already been tabbed as the preseason Player of the Year in the Big 12 Conference and he is on the early watch list for several national Player of the Year honors as well.

Price is no longer the quiet, shy guard out of Louisiana and make no mistake about it; he is the team leader and spokesman for the 2002-03 Sooners.

JH: Congratulations on all the preseason polls, but after last year I guess they don't come as surprise do they?

HP: "We are still trying to adjust to our so-called celebrity status. We are excited about this year coming up and about all the voters selecting us as one of the top five teams in the country. We really appreciate the publicity, but now we have to go out and prove we belong there."

JH: Don't you feel your preseason rankings are deserved after last year?

HP: "It is deserved, but we are used to being the underdog and coming from behind. Now, this year we are the target. It is something new, but we have to adjust to it and I think we will."

JH: It that really a tough transition for you?

HP: "It is easier to be the underdog because you don't have anything to lose. Being the guy who has the bullseye on his back has everybody wanting to play their best game against him. We need to have the edge going into each game that you are not going to lose the game. We need to have that edge, we need to have a chip on our shoulder to show our opponents that we are still the same team that we were last year."

JH: Think about how far you have come as now you are regarded as one of the top players in the country and you are the preseason pick for the Big 12 Player of the Year.

HP: "I have come a long way. That was a great honor, to have the coaches in the Big 12 select you as the Player of the Year. The most important thing is for us to win and if we don't win that award wouldn't mean anything to me."

JH: Aren't you playing on the type of team that can win in a big way this year?

HP: "We have a lot of players back. We are fortunate to have four starters and a lot of new players who have bonded to the system early. When November 14 rolls around we will find out just how good we really are."

JH: What have been your impressions of the new players on the roster?

HP: "Kevin Bookout is a great inside post guy that can do some of the stuff that Aaron (McGee) did for us last year. DeAngelo is a strong, big guard that can post up and really defend. Larry Turner is another big man who is going to help us also. Matt Gipson, who redshirted last year, is doing a great job also."

JH: There seems to be a lot of young talent on the roster and despite losing a great player in McGhee, having four starters back should make the transition easier shouldn't it?

HP: "I think that it will. The other years we had a lot of seniors who graduated and it was basically guards who left every year. So the basic transition fell on our young guards like me. My junior year J.R. Raymond was released from the team and that forced me to change back to the point guard instead of playing the two and that was a tough transition. Then last year Quannas (White) came in and helped us out a lot by playing the point, which allowed me to go back to the wing. Then we added Ebi Ere and he was a great scorer on the wing. Despite the fact we were new in the backcourt last year we had great players, so the transition was easier."

JH: Every year in the off-season you work hard on improving one aspect of your game. What was that one aspect this off-season?

HP: "I have worked on my shooting some more this summer and I worked on my mental outlook of being a better leader. I have been concentrating on trying to find a way to make the team win even if I am not scoring. That was what Coach Sampson and I talked about a lot this summer, that I need to do the little things to help the team out. If I am not scoring then I need to get rebounds or defend really well by getting a lot of steals and forcing a lot of turnovers."

JH: I thought you shot the lights out of the bucket last year, but I hear you are shooting better this year. Is that true?

HP: I think that I am. I have put in a lot of work during the off-season on my shooting. When you put in that type of work you expect results.

JH: You and Quannas are a unique backcourt, don't you think?

HP: He is one of the toughest guards in the nation I think. He can drive in the paint get a bucket and get an ‘and one' all in one move. I think I got a lot stronger then I was last year and that is only going to help us out in the long run."

JH: I have always felt for you during games because it looks like the opposing teams are trying to beat you up they are so physical with you. Do you feel the same way?

HP: "I always seem to fall a lot and my grandparents always tell me that I am always on the ground and that I need to stay up. it It is not like I am trying to be on the ground. The other guys are doing stuff that knocks me to the ground and that is just something that I have to deal with."

JH: What have been your impressions of DeAngelo Alexander?

HP: "He kinds of reminds me of my freshman year in not knowing how hard you need to go in practice. You always have to practice so hard at this level and you can never coast. He thinks he is going hard, but I know and you know that Coach Sampson's speed is a lot faster than what DeAngelo thinks his speed is. That is the thing that he hasn't really caught onto yet. He needs to figure out what it takes to go as hard as Coach Sampson demands and then he will find that things will go a lot easier for him."

JH: What about your opening game with Alabama at Madison Square Garden in New York?

HP: "I can't wait to play in Madison Square Garden. It will be the first time that I have played in New York and I am excited about playing in the Garden. A lot of great players played there and I want to be one of the one's that can say that I had a chance to play in the Garden."

JH: OU is picked second behind Kansas in the Big 12. Does that upset you at all?

HP: "You should pick Kansas number one. They had a great year last year and they only lost Drew Gooden, so they return a lot of talent. They are basically the same team that went 16-0 in conference. So, why not pick them?"

JH: You are always so respectful of Kansas, but once you step on the court with them you don't seem to be so friendly?

HP: "That is just the thing, when we are off the court we are friends, but once we are on the court then we are enemies. We are friends with Nick Callison and some of the other guys on the Kansas team, but we both know once we get on the court it is war."

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