Louisville basketball freshman guard Mike James talked with the media on Wednesday afternoon. You can see the video here, or read the transcript below.
On his first month at U of L
My first month has been pretty good. It’s a big jump going from high school to college. Workouts, they’ve been good. I’ve been getting adjusted to the weight room and getting used to the workouts on the court. So I would say my first month went pretty well.
Other than that I’ve just been enjoying my teammates, the staff, the coaches; just getting used to being here with all the guys, getting acclimated and stuff. It’s been a good time.
How do you visualize your role this year?
Of course I visualize myself having a big impact. But all that stuff depends on how I handle myself in practice, how I do in the weight room, how I take care of myself. All that stuff will play out on my work. If I continue doing what I’m doing, continue playing well in practice, continue impressing the coaches and taking care of business, I see myself having a good impact this year.
Was it tough transitioning from high school to a D-I setting?
I think I got it pretty quick. You’ve gotta get it pretty quick if you wanna do well. The main thing for me was being on schedule. Having a planned out schedule was different for me. In high school you would just wake up, go to school, maybe get shots up in the morning, go to practice, and then you’re done. At the D-I level you’ve gotta plan time to where you’ve gotta be there, get stretched out before the workout, make sure you’ve had something to eat, and then after that morning workout you’ve got another workout at a planned time and you’ve gotta be ready for that. And then we’ve got planned stuff outside of the gym like yoga. Just different stuff added to the day.
It’s been different, but I’d say I grabbed onto it pretty quick and got acclimated pretty quick. I’d say I’m doing pretty good with that.
How would you describe practice so far?
It’s very intense. Just like the other guys have said, it’s a very fast tempo. We’re getting up and down the floor a lot. I’m enjoying the practice, and just playing, man. I really enjoy it. It’s kind of what I’m used to from high school. So I’m pretty used to how we’re getting up and down, but it’s been different in some ways. It’s been very up-tempo, getting up and down, lots of 5-on-5 stuff.
What position do see yourself playing on this team?
I see myself as a wing, guard. I can guard 1-4 and I’m pretty versatile on the offensive end, so he can move me around pretty much anywhere from that 1-4 position if need be. That’s how we’ve been playing. The 1-4 on our offense is pretty interchangeable. Everybody can move to different spots. So I feel like I fit in pretty will with that with my versatility. On the defensive end, again, I feel like I can guard 1-4. So I’m pretty versatile on that end as well. I feel like I fit in pretty well.
You’re listed at 6’6, 195. Is that accurate?
Coach Kettler has put me to work. I’m 6’6, 215 now.
Growing up in SEC territory, what’s your familiarity with ACC basketball?
ACC for me was always the best basketball in the country. You’ve got Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia, all those big time schools. For me, it was the best conference to be in, and I’m glad I get to play in the conference. I get to play against some of the best teams and players in the country. I feel like in this conference, you’ll go up against a pro every night. So you get to prove yourself against those players. Why not come play in this conference?
How do you feel like you have to tailor your game to compete in the ACC?
There are a lot of big, athletic guys who can drive and shoot the ball. So I feel like for me at 6’6, 215, if I shoot the ball pretty well, I’m pretty athletic for my size, I should fit in pretty well in this conference. In this conference you’ve got to be skilled and athletic, because there’s trees down there as well.
On how he added the 20 pounds
It’s been mostly muscle. I came in at 208, so that 195 was an old weight for me. So I’ve gained probably six or seven pounds (since arriving last month). Kett told me from day one that I’ve got a pretty good body — I was already lifting before I came in. So I was in pretty good shape. He just wanted me to tone and add more muscle and get stronger, and that’s what I’ve been doing. So just listening to him in the weight room and doing what I’m supposed to do — eating right — that’s what I’ve been up to.
On the leadership within the team
We have multiple leaders. You’ve got Malik, Jarrod, even like Jae’Lyn Withers, Samuell Williamson, some of the older returning guys. Even guys who transferred in like Noah Locke. I just try to take in as much as possible from those guys because they’ve been there and played already. Some of them are seniors and juniors, so they’ve been through it all. I just try to soak up everything they tell me, be a sponge. We’ve got a whole bunch of leaders on this team, and I feel like that will be really important in the season — not just having one guy, but having multiple guys to lead.
What has your experience with your new teammates been like and what has the atmosphere been like?
It’s great. It’s great. From day one, when we first stepped on campus, we all just gelled as a team. There’s not one odd man out. We do everything together. We go out to eat together, we workout together. No matter what we do, we do it as a team. That’s what I like, being part of a culture like that where everybody gets along and the chemistry is on point. Once we start playing you’ll see that transition onto the court. Everybody trusts one another. Our bond grows as we play.
Who has stood out the most in practice to you?
I wouldn’t say one person. I feel like we’ve all been doing good and making our leaps and jumps in practice.
Did the Florida schools not show much interest in you or were you just eager to get away from home?
They didn’t show much interest. I didn’t receive offers from the big schools like Florida, Florida State. I think the only big time school from Florida that offered me was USF. So I don’t know what that was — I guess they didn’t rock with me. So we’ll see those guys on the schedule. Miami and Florida State.
You were the last player picked in the softball draft. What happened there?
I’m not a softball player, but by a mile, I was not the worst player out there. We had a practice, and I’m not going to throw any names out there ... you know what, I am going to throw names out there. Noah Locke and JJ Traynor were by far worse than me. But I think it was like a senior prank that Malik and Jarrod were doing. They thought it would be funny to pick me last. They picked Coach Ross before me. He didn’t even come to the practice and he’s never played baseball in his life. How do you pick him over me? I don’t understand that. I guess it was just a little joke. But I’m gonna get my work in and my practice in, and I’ll be ready July 19. It’s July 19, right? July 19, for the game.
I am by far not the worst player. Some of those dudes could not even hit the ball.