Q&A With Joel James
North Carolina Men's Basketball Media Day
Sophomore Forward #42 Joel James
On the difference from last year to this year:
"It's night and day. I feel like, coming in freshman year, I didn't know what to expect. You try to prepare yourself as much as you can mentally for what you're about to get yourself into, but it's nothing like stepping into it and realizing "Oh man, I'm in trouble." And realizing just how much work goes into everyday what we do. So, I feel like I'm more prepared now, like I know what I'm getting myself into, I know what the everyday regimen is, and I feel like I'm well prepared."
On when the light came on last year:
"Well, at the end of the year, Coach pulled me aside and we had a conversation about what he expects from me and where he sees me going in the years to come. That was the starting point of 'Okay, Joel, now you have to develop yourself. This is all you now.' So I took it upon myself to stay here throughout the summer and just work on my craft, everyday. I feel like I've accomplished some things, but there's so much more work to do throughout the year. But I feel like I'm a lot better than where I started."
On biggest areas of improvement over summer:
"I'd say the mental aspects of the game. I'm just more comfortable in my own skin. I'm not as nervous of things like that. I mean, the nerves can never go away, you play at North Carolina. But, I'm not as nervous. I know what Coach expects of me. I know what he's going to say when he yells at me. I know what's happening; I'm not a deer in the headlights anymore. Well, some days I'm not...I mean, I'm just ready for everything now."
On difficulty of starting playing basketball late in life:
"That's 100 percent true. The only way you can get experience is by doing it. So, this summer, I was a big advocate of playing pickup. As much basketball as I could, everyday, as much basketball as I can. Like you said, the only way to get better is by doing it everyday. So that's what I tried to do everyday."
On his number change from #0 to #42:
"Everyone always asks me that. I joke about that I have to please my point guard. Nate Britt wanted #0. I figured that he's the guy that's going to pass me the ball so I gotta make him happy.
On talking to Sean May about taking his number:
"That's some big shoes to fill. I actually had a conversation with the big man, asking him for his blessing for the number. He said yes, as long as I'm not dropping balls. He said make it look good, so I promised him I would make it look good, and I'm going to do my best to do that."
On automatic, second-nature mental processes:
"It was literally everything. Why I would set the screen, why I would rebound, why I would open up one way, why I would stop and field-it literally translates to everything. The mental aspect of why I'm doing something has totally been brought right to my eyes, to my attention. I understand. It's more clear now. I'm seeing the big picture, as Coach always says, so I understand what the big picture is and why he wants me to do certain things."