Southern Miss forward/ guard Keljin Blevins jumped right in as a true freshman for the Golden Eagles last season playing in 25 games and starting in 13. The talented 6'4 athlete from Hot Springs, Arkansas learned on the fly and grew tremendously in his first year. This season, he'll play a new role, one of team veteran and leader. Blevins is one of four returners from a year ago, and finds himself as a guy who is being looked upon to bring other guys up to speed on the Doc Sadler system. It is a position he embraces, and he goes into detail about his role and the upcoming season in this Q and A with GoldenEaglePride.com.
Q: For you personally coming in this year, what are some of the differences from where you were a year ago?
KB: "It is a huge difference coming in for me as a sophomore because right away I'm coming in as one of a few guys that are back so I know I'm expected to be a leader. This is a big year for me. I'm doing a lot of teaching about the way things are done at Southern Miss and teaching the new guys about what Doc wants and expects from us. My goal is to also keep the pace up and keep everyone tight on defense because that is another way I can lead this team."
Q: Do you feel like the game has slowed down for you, and what differences do you feel having a year under your belt?
KB: "The game has most definitely slowed down for me. I'm a lot more comfortable with my shot and my handles that is for sure. I feel like a completely different person on the court."
Q: How was your off-season and was there any particular area where you felt like you grew as a player?
KB: "I worked on my handles and staying lower to the ground. One thing the coaches really taught me was how straight up and down I played last season. I really worked on being in better condition and being more explosive. I want to be a guy that can get to the rim so I improved my strength too."
Q: I know you are a versatile player. What role do you expect on the team this year?
KB: "My goal is to be wherever coach wants me to be. He has me working anywhere from the 2 to the 4 and wants me to be able to guard anyone from the 2 to the 4. I expect to play them all depending on the game situation and our opponent. With our lack of height I know I could play anywhere and we'll need to try and be a difficult match-up for other teams so I could be a lot at the 3 or 4."
Q: You had mentioned being one of 4 guys returning this year. How has the chemistry been for you guys with all the new faces on this team?
KB: "The chemistry is amazing and I feel like its so much better than last year. We have a really great group of guys. Everyone wants to really listen to Doc and do what he tells us to do. They want to be a part of a rebuilding basketball program here and there are no egos. We get along great and there have been no problems at all with the chemistry on this team."
Q: What do you believe will be the strengths and calling card of this year's basketball team?
KB: "We are small, so one of our strengths will be getting up and down the court. Doc has worked us real hard on conditioning and that has been our focus because we are going to have to be a team that gets out and runs. We also want to be a pressure defensive team on the peremiter, that's going to be a key for us."
Q: How is the adjustment going to learning the zone and how do you feel it is going to benefit this team?
KB: "I feel like it will benefit us a lot. We are smaller so in a zone different people can play different spots and be quicker on the floor. It's a match up zone that creates a lot of pressure which is what we have to be about this year. We are really enjoying it so far this year."