Q&A With KT Harrell
KT Harrell is preparing for the start of his second season in the Virginia men’s basketball program. The 6-4 sophomore guard from Montgomery, Ala., averaged 8.0 points and 2.1 rebounds a game last season as a freshman and made 42.1 percent (24-57) of his three-point field goal attempts. The Cavaliers open the 2011-12 season on Sunday, Nov. 13, when they host South Carolina State at John Paul Jones Arena. The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
Question: An obvious first question, are you ready for the start of the season?
Harrell: I can’t wait. There is so much expectation for the team. We’ve worked really hard and are excited about this year.
Question: How has the preseason practice period been different for you when compared to a year ago?
Harrell: I have so much more experience. I got to play a lot last year and that was a blessing for me as a first year. I got to play so much and saw so many different things. Going into this year I know a lot more and that’s been the biggest difference for me this preseason.
Question: Does it help to have a year under your belt in Coach Bennett’s system?
Harrell: Definitely, definitely. It’s not really a complex system, but I feel like going into college in any system you’re under you have to have a certain level of experience. Just being able to get that time out there as a first year has helped me a lot.
Question: What did you work on this past summer in preparation for the upcoming season?
Harrell: I worked on my ball-handling skills, athleticism and speed. I lost a couple of pounds to get quicker. Really I worked on my all-around game. I worked myself really hard this summer with my dad and put in a lot of time.
Question: What about your work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Curtis?
Harrell: It was great this summer. He pushed me to my limit. I worked really hard with him. He had some great drills for me to improve my athleticism, speed and quickness. It really has paid off.
Question: Did you make some changes in your eating habits after last season?
Harrell: Coach Curtis won’t let me live it down, but my eating habits last year weren’t so good. They talk about the Freshman 15. I definitely gained that, but it’s a lot better now. I’m a lot more disciplined about what I eat. I don’t eat late nights and it’s been good for me.
Question: What was the most difficult part of the transition from high school basketball to college basketball for you last season?
Harrell: I would say confidence. In high school you’re known in your city as one of the best players. Coming into college you don’t have a name, you have to start all over and build your name again. It’s sort of frustrating and you’ve got to gain that confidence and that swagger you had in high school. That was the main thing I struggled with last year, just being confident and playing and having fun.
Question: What about the transition away from basketball? How did that go and what was the most difficult part of that transition?
Harrell: Time management, managing basketball and school. I never had to manage it with the same type of intensity. That was the biggest thing, managing my time.
Question: Have you tried to assist this year’s freshmen with their transition to college basketball and college life?
Harrell: I try to give them as much knowledge as I can. I don’t know everything and I definitely still have a lot more to learn as a player and in life period. Anything that I can share with them, any knowledge I can give to them that helps make their transition better I’m willing to share.
Question: What do you like to do away from basketball?
Harrell: My teammates and I love to play video games. We’re so competitive we need to find something else to keep that competitive spirit going. We compete a lot in video games and sometimes it gets a little crazy.