Interview: Darnell Gant – Part 1

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by: Griffin Bennett

With fall practice just around the corner, I got to sit down with red shirt senior Darnell Gant who will be a integral part the team’s success this season. This is his fifth fall camp with coach Romar so who better to talk to about everything Husky basketball? We cover topics like this season’s prospects, his three favorite moments as a Husky, and he even gives his opinion on being paid as a student athlete.

I’ll break it up into two parts but here’s the first:

Montlake Madness: What kind of a player are we to expect from Darnell Gant this year? More of a post presence?

Darnell Gant: A whole new look. A different mentality coming from me. In other years I came in with the mentality to score or get more shots, but I’m not looking for that this year. One of the main things that I’m looking to do is to get my team as many offensive possessions as I can.

MM: Who has stepped up as the vocal leader of this team, other than yourself?

DG: Scott (Suggs). He has always been a leader in terms of on court but now he is becoming one vocally. Scott is a quiet guy on the court, usually, but now he’s speaking up and holding his own.

MM: What has your summer schedule been like? Can you walk me through it?

DG: After graduation I stuck around and worked out on my own until some of my teammates got back. I incorporated my workouts with them and did a lot of shooting workouts. By shooting workouts, that consists of post moves, jumpers, free throws, three pointers, and just a barrage of things.

MM: What part of your game have you improved the most this off season?

DG: I wouldn’t say I’ve improved one thing, I’ve just taken a different mentality of being in the post, being aggressive, and being able to create for my teammates as well as trying to find a good look for me.

MM: What will your role be on the team this year?

DG: Senior leader and doing more of the little things. I want to piggy back off of the things I did towards the end of last year and just take another step forward creating more offensive opportunities.

MM: Are we going to see you play more of an inside game this year or continue growth on your outside shot?

DG: If the open shot is there, I’ll take it. You saw me last year, I took some shots but I didn’t take that many. I’m always confident so if it’s there I’m going to take It but I’m going to try to mix it up a lot more this year and hopefully I can hold myself to that.

MM: You are the first fifth year senior in Romar’s tenure here at UW. What does that mean to you?

DG: I can just say that that’s just something that I wanted to do and leave a name and do something that no one else has done. I’m the first fifth year senior ever so that’s a start. (laugh). I want to try to leave my mark. I’m not just focused on myself, though, I’m just trying to go out there and play hard to make things happen. I want to try to leave some type of legacy. Like Scott (Suggs) and I will be the first two players to go to the NCAA tournament four times. That’s leaving my name in the record books in some kind of way. That or doing something out of the ordinary in the past 3-4 years and show them what I can really do.

MM: What are the advantages of being a fifth year senior?

DG: I got a lot of experience. I’ve played with the best Huskies. Going up against them in practice. I’ve played against some of the best players in the Pac-10. Ever. James Harden is one of the best ever, Derrick Williams held his own last year. I know what’s expected of the team. I know what Coach Romar’s style is like. I know what he preaches to the team every day and I know all of that like the back of my hand. What I can do, and what a captain should do, is piggy back off of what he said and motivate the team to do it his way, the right way, the Husky way.

MM: What personal goals have you set for yourself this season?

DG: I want to have a better overall rebounding year. I’ll just say that.

MM: Can you tell us a little bit about each of the freshmen coming in?

DG: Real talented. A lot of talented players and I feel lilke when they get introduced to our system and acclimated to everything that they are going to be just fine. We’ve got a lot a senior leadership with me and Scott and Gaddy is junior, but he’s a vocal leader on the court. You might not have seen it because he kind of got overshadowed my Isaiah (Thomas) but now Isaiah’s gone and Gaddy is really trying to come into his own and the freshmen are trying to fall in line with that. I won’t name ‘em one by one, but they’re a talented freshmen class.

MM: What about Dez Simmons?

DG: Me and Desmond have developed a good friendship and for him, what I want to see from him, is that by the time he’s a fifth year senior, if he stays,  is that him and I will be the first two fifth year seniors and we will set the standard for others who want to red shirt. Desmond plays hard. He’s tenacious on the rebounding end. It’s crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it other than Jon (Brockman). Desmond is different because he’s a little quicker than Jon but his motor is just like Jon’s. He’s a sight to see. People are going to be shocked when they see him play.

MM: What would have to happen this season for you to consider it a success?

DG: Just buying into the concept of Husky basketball as a group. We know that we can’t win games just because we show up but if we come ready to play every game and play hard and just play Husky basketball then we will win a few games and turn some heads. We’re not as talented as teams in the past, individually, but as a unit I feel like we have the hardest working group that has ever been at Washington. Maybe. I might be biased.

…Part 2 coming later… Bow Down.