Q: You guys shot a lot of threes last year. You probably want to not shoot as many this year and get the ball inside a little more. Is Julian Terrell a guy that can be a key to more inside scoring this year?
A: Definitely. JT is a great post player. He has a lot of moves down there. He has the potential to do a lot of great things. He's looking great in practice. He's dunking on people, he's shooting the ball over people. He's rebounding like crazy. He's just a great player.
Q: What he went through last year with his mother... you were pretty new at that point. How did you handle that? I know it was a sensitive thing.
A: It was hard. We had a lot of death in our families last year. A lot of guys were going through different things at different times. I was just trying my best to be an encourager and let them know that I was there for them. I also told them they needed to keep praying. It's more of a wake-up call than anything, to let us know that we're all not just here by ourselves.
Q: How much of a change have you seen in him since his mom died? Coach Stallings said it's never a blessing when that happened, but that there was kind of a burden lifted.
A: His mother had been sick for a while. I know if it had been me, there would always be that thought in my mind, that one day I might look up and she'd be gone. That's a hard burden to have on your shoulders. I think once she did pass, he had that mindset that he's not only out there playing for us. He's playing for his mother too. So he goes out there and gives it all he's got, every time. I've noticed a difference in his confidence. He has tremendous confidence in himself now. He knows how aggressive he is, and he's "back" now. He's that basketball player he envisions in his head when he goes to sleep now, instead of it being something that he can't accomplish.
Q: What has Derrick Byars brought to the program?
A: He brings a lot of intensity. He can post up. He shoots the ball very well, plays defense very well. He'll help our team tremendously this year. Some of the things he does at practice, I just sit back and say "Wow!" He's my roommate, so he and I sit back and reminisce on practice sometimes, and I'll say, "Dude, you were serious."
Q: Does he have the most complete offensive game on the team? I think Kevin said that.
A: Probably so. He can handle the ball really well. He can play the one through the four. He can take you off the dribble, shoot off the dribble, post up... any way he can catch you slipping, he's going to take you.
Q: Shan, so many young kids are leaving the SEC early and going on to the NBA, thinking they are going to get drafted. Most of them are not getting drafted. What goes through your mind when you see that happening? Everybody thinks they can play in the "show", don't they?
A: Yes. I think sometimes people get misled by some people. Me, on a personal note, I don't think about that too much. I just let chips fall where they may. I feel like God has a plan for me to play in the NBA one day, and I'm just going to try to work hard every day, and I'll get there when I get there.
Q: You've probably had some people try to talk you into going, haven't you? It seems like everybody's been approached...
A: Not really. It's been mentioned a few times, but I don't pay attention to it too much.
Q: Have you had any agents ask you about it?
A: No sir.
Q: Would you be surprised if it happened this year?
A: I don't know... it depends on how I do this year.
Q: Do you think that's because you're Vanderbilt, and most Vanderbilt kids stay there to get an education? How important is that to you? It doesn't seem to be to a lot of kids.
A: Well, my education is very important to me. One thing that my mom stated to me was that she wanted me to stay all four years. Whether or not I do that depends on how I do over the next few years. I just have to let the chips fall where they may, and continue to work hard.
Q: What are your impressions thus far of [freshman guard] George Drake?
A: He's a great player. He's coming in trying to learn the offense. He's one of the most athletic guys I've seen in a while. He's going to be a good player for us.
A: Kyle plays extremely hard. He plays with a lot of emotion. He's going to be great. Ross, I already knew, because I knew some of the guys at LSU, play with them every now and then. He's a good player as well... shoots the ball pretty well, has a lot of different moves in the post. He'll do very well for us too.
Q: Let's say everybody stays healthy, everybody gives 100 percent. What kind of goals have you guys set for yourself this year?
A: The sky's the limit. We're expecting great things. I'm not going to say exactly what it is that we're going to do, but it's going to be something special.
AP Photo by John Bazemore