20 questions with Cypheus Bunton

Gamecock Anthem sat down with South Carolina assistant Cypheus Bunton to ask him a series of questions about himself and the state of the Gamecocks' basketball program. In this exclusive three-part series the South Carolina basketball staff gives open and honest insight.

Where are you from?
Louisville, Ky. Born and raised.

What high school and colleges did you attend?
Valley High School and Western Kentucky.

Do you have any siblings?
Yes, I do. I have three brothers — two older and one younger. I had a younger sister that passed away a couple of years ago.

What's your favorite food?
I would say steak. A good T-bone, and I'm good to go.

What's the greatest basketball moment that you've ever seen?
I would say, when I was at the Sweet 16, and it was Wake Forest against Kentucky. They played right before us, and I got to see Jamal Mashburn just give it to Rodney Rogers. It was an epic battle. And I'd have to say our game against Kentucky when they were No. 1.

What was it like playing basketball professionally overseas?
It was a wonderful experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Growing up, I had dreams of playing in the NBA like everyone else, and I never imagined going overseas. But it was an experience of a lifetime. You make friendships with teammates and international players over there, and those last lifetimes. I still keep in touch with them. I played in Israel, New Zealand, England, Finland and Sweden.

The coaching staff is really young. Do the other two assistants look up to you? And is it weird considering how young you are in this profession?
Not necessarily. I would say they look up to me because I'm older, but not because of basketball. They are educated men that know a lot about the game. We always bounce ideas off of each other.

What's it like working for coach Horn as long as you have?
I have a different relationship with him since we were teammates. I know how he is; I know his family real well. He's like a best friend, the best of one that you can have in someone in this business. He's loyal and intelligent and knows the game inside out. And coming into this game, I wouldn't want to have come in under anyone else in this business.

What has it been like to go from Western Kentucky to South Carolina with coach Horn?
It's been great. I have no regrets leaving my alma mater. You don't think you'll be at one place for a long time. You want to advance in this occupation. It was a great run there getting them to the Sweet 16, but we're trying to get South Carolina where it needs to be.

What's your favorite moment as a coach?
Watching Ty Rogers go in during the first round of the NCAA tournament with a shot at the buzzer to beat Drake.

As a former AAU coach, what do you wish kids would prepare more for before they hit college?
I think most of these kids don't know how hard it is to transition from high school to college. There's a big difference between how hard you have to prepare yourself. Some guys think because they were the best player on their AAU team that they don't have to work hard because it's easy for them, but it's a totally different level.

Your role has changed a bit as a coach at South Carolina, how's that experience been?
It was good. On one end, I had a chance to go back to school and enlighten myself and be able to work on my masters. It's always good to go back to school — even though I didn't finish it. I had a chance to take a step back and realize what you think you know isn't always what you know. So, that was good on that part because you are always trying to improve and make yourself better.

What do you see as necessary for the team to be successful in the upcoming season?
We just have to focus on today, whether it's practice that day or a game that day. We have to control what we can control. And the biggest part is taking care of what you can take care of, today.

What is a realistic expectation for this coming year?
It's hard to say, I don't want to look into the future. But realistically, we have to go out and compete every game and play hard defensively, and if you do those things, you always give yourself a chance to be successful.

How do you feel the post players are progressing?
They're coming along real well. They always have day-by-day progress. You can always get better daily. They've been working hard this summer by their selves. With the little bit of time we've had this fall, we've been pleased, but there's always room for improvement. We know how important post play is in this league, so we'll keep working with them, and I think good things will happen.

Do you feel the bigs will be ready for the season?
We got guys like Damontre Harris, who now has a year under his belt, and R.J. Slawson, who now has a year. The question is Carlton Geathers because he didn't play. But he has a year under his belt of practice where he went up against the likes of Sam Muldrow and Johndre Jefferson, and he's something that we don't have, and that's a big body. We're preparing them to be ready, but you're never ready until you get out there.

The team is young again this year, where do you see leadership coming from?
Well, you would want to it come from a collective group with everyone. But in hindsight, you'd want it to be the senior in Malik Cooke. Also, you'd want it to come from your point guard in Eric Smith, and he's done a good job. But again, you want it to come from everybody. Some guys will lead vocally, and some guys will lead by example.

Which player do you expect the most out of this season?
All of them! But personally, I'd want to see a lot of Damontre Harris because he's so talented and so long and such a freak athlete, but I want everyone to do something.

What's the funniest thing that's happened while coaching in Columbia?
I don't know. I'd have to say just hanging out with them in the locker room and just hearing them tell jokes. That's the funniest thing I can think of. Then, we have guys who think they have talents. Eric Smith and Damien Leonard think they can sing. They have pretty good voices, but not to put them on American Idol any time soon or anything.

If you had to play any player on the team for a lifetime supply of sunflower seeds, who would it be?
I would have to say Eric Smith. I'd have to say him since he's the shortest, and I could score over him. I don't know (if I can stop him) because he's quick, and I'm old. I don't think I could stop him, and I don't think he can stop me. But if I get the ball first and score first, it's over.

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