Here are selected quotes from speaking with American sophomore and preseason Patriot League first-teamer Delante Jones and sophomore James Washington:
ON PLAYING ON THE BEST TEAM IN DC's KENNER LEAGUE (a team that included Villanova’s preseason All-American Josh Hart, among others)
“It was good to play with them and play a different role because I wasn’t shooting. I learned a lot, worked on my game.”
BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM LAST SEASON
“The first thing I tried to focus on this summer was my body, being in shape, stuff like that. I didn’t think I was in shape at all (last year).”
“I got a lot stronger. I gained probably 15 pounds.”
ON DEALING WITH PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS
“It’s gonna be hard. It’s definitely gonna be a whole new experience. … I’m as ready as I can be I guess but I guess you don’t figure out until you play.”
ON BECOMING A BETTER PASSER
“Yeah I’m gonna have to be able to do that because it’s just gonna be turnovers (if not) — you can’t just play through so many people. You’ve gotta be able to find your teammates. And I haven’t been that good at it. Even in practice in the beginning. Now I’m still working on it. In the beginning it was so terrible. It became apparent. … That’s been a huge focus. Probably No. 1 after conditioning.”
ON LEARNING TO GET TO FT LINE LAST YEAR
“It’s just a process of figuring out how to make my game effective in college. I think toward the end of the year I kind of had a similar game to how I played in high school – I was going to the basket, getting fouled, I could always make the 3. But in college it was just easier once I figured out how to shoot. It was just people were getting me open so I could make shots and it was way harder to get to the basket, and go up with contact and all that especially when you’re tired. So it just took a long time for me to be able to do that.”
Favorite food: “I could have salmon every day”
Athlete: “Definitely LeBron”
Music artist: YG the rapper
ON CHEMISTRY WITH SOPHOMORES
“I feel like it’s really great because first off, off the court, building relationships just being around them all the time. We all came in together and we stuck together last year and for us to stay together throughout the year is also really good for the chemistry and for the team. But on the court it’s better too because we can kind of play off each other and see where our game is at and just kind of like get a good sense of how we all play together and how we can make each other better.”
ON BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM LAST YEAR
“First off just being mature, the maturity. Coach emphasized that a lot, being able to handle that and being ready first of all for the games because in conference it’s hard. But really it was really good because -- what I’m really taking away from it is that no matter where you start, it’s always where you finish. We started off 0-6 in conference and we played ourselves into a bye and we beat the No. 3 team. So it says a lot. I feel like really it’s to keep getting better because all throughout the year last year we were just trying to figure out our strengths and how can we start winning and how we can get the most out of the season. And as we kept playing and playing and playing -- the more we played -- we started to figure it out and we just kept coming with that same intensity, we just started playing better and better. We didn’t finish the season how we wanted to, but it’s good we responded to how we were playing throughout the year.
“Delante stepped up a lot, and it made all of us pick up off of what he was doing and make us play better together as well. We’re basically just playing off each other and picking up what the others do.”
WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST SKILLS YOU WANTED TO WORK ON DURING THE SUMMER?
“My ballhandling first off all because a lot of teams pressure. My shot -- I needed to get my shot more consistent. And really just getting stronger, too. And on defense -- although defense is effort, it’s still something I really was trying to work on during the summer a lot and as well as trying to get stronger.”
Gained 10 pounds of muscle “being down here helped me out a lot”
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR ROLE THIS YEAR?
“I mean really in our offense everybody -- we’re all moving, we’re all gonna have the chance to handle the ball. So really it’s good because me, (Sa’eed) and Delante, we all can handle the ball a little bit. So that’s good that we have another ballhandler, a person like him that can see the floor and create for others. … really it’s just whoever gets it (in practice).”
IF YOU WERE TO LABEL YOURSELF, MORE SG OR PG?
“Probably just a combo.”
Favorite food: Pasta, macaroni, spaghetti
Favorite movie: Inception
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
Favorite music artist: Roy Woods
1 country to visit: Italy