Gatesville starting point guard Justin Massey helped guide the Hornets (16-15, 7-3 District 8-3A) into the playoffs for a second consecutive season and is averaging a team-high 2.3 steals per game, while ranking second in assists with 3.3 per game.
How does it feel the season as a whole has gone so far?
“I think we could have played better, and we should have had a better season, but the football boys went deep into playoffs and that kind of hurt us. Other than that, it was good.”
How did their return change the team chemistry?
“It is a lot stronger. There is more talking. Them coming back and working harder in practice (turned our season around). We got more serious.”
You missed part of the beginning of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. What was that time away from the game like?
“It wasn’t fun. I wanted to be in the gym. Sitting out helped me notice what was open and what was available though.”
How does it feel to be back in the playoffs?
“It feels good. I hope we go farther than last year, but it’s going to take hard work and more shooting. I’m just staying in the gym and shooting, dribbling, anything I can do. I’m a gym rat.”
This is a team that loves to shoot, especially 3-pointers. How do you feel about the offensive approach this season?
“It is good. There’s better ball movement and more cutting to the basket, which gets guys open.”
What is like being a starter as a sophomore?
“It’s a lot of pressure. I just go out and try my best, try my hardest. … I think it is actually easier because I can trust (the older players) more.”
How do you define your role on the team?
“I’ve got to provide penetration to get the shooters open. I’m a pass-first guy.”
You also played on varsity as a freshman. What was that like and how did it help prepare you for this season?
“Last year was really hard because I wasn’t as quick. The older guys were a lot quicker and faster, but it helped me this year to be ready for it.”
What allows you to be successful defensively?
“I’m just a better defensive player. I work hard on defense. It’s not really hard. You’ve got to play defense to win games, you’ve got to stop the other team.”
What was it like transitioning to a new head coach this season?
“It was hard at first, but I got use to it and adjusted. The offense (was difficult to pick up) because I had to learn new plays.”
When were you introduced to basketball?
“When I was 5, my parents gave me a ball when I was little, and I just kept playing all the way up.”
Are you a college or pro basketball fan?
“Yes, I like college. My team is Kentucky. I like John Wall. I kind of try to pattern my game after him. He pushes the ball and penetrates a lot.”
What is it like balancing your academic and athletic schedules, especially at a hectic time like now when you are preparing for the playoffs?
“It’s hard, but school comes first. I just pay attention in class, and when it comes time for basketball, I work hard.”
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
“Watching my brother, playing game with him. He’s 6, so we’ll go shoot baskets outside or play soccer.”
Is he going to be a better basketball player than you?
“No. I’m pretty competitive by nature. I’m a basketball junkie. I use to play football, but I just went to straight basketball.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com