ROSEMONT, Ill. – Caris LeVert spoke with the media today at Big Ten Media Day 2015 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare. LeVert discussed his decision to return to school, the sophomore class, his leadership style and much more.
Watch LeVert’s interview in the embedded media player above or read assorted quotes below.
On the decision to return for his senior season: “It was a couple of things. One of the main things being to graduate and get my degree. The other being to go out on a good slate and win some games. To go to the NBA last year with a 14-15 record I think it was wouldn’t have been a good feeling. Then to just go out on the best terms, last year if I would have went out I wouldn’t have been able to work out with any teams or anything like that because my foot was still messed up.”
“It was really 50-50 down the middle. People were saying stay, people were saying go. People really close to me too. It was really 50-50 and at the end of the day it was really up to me, what I felt was best.
“Coach was with me each and every step. He supported what I did either way so I really thank him for that .A lot of coaches in that situation would have really pressed me to stay, but he wasn’t really like that.”
On the sophomore class: “Those other guys got valuable game minutes. You can’t put a price on that. Its one thing for them to learn in practice, but it’s another thing for them to learn with live bullets going against teams like Michigan State and Wisconsin.
On offseason improvement: “Myself I feel like I got a lot stronger this offseason. I feel like my legs got a lot stronger and my leadership got a lot better, especially while I was sitting out. I kind of saw the game from a different perspective. “
On his leadership style: “I would say I can be both. By nature I’m more of a lead by example guy who kind of lets his work do the talking. But more recently I think I’ve been more of a vocal leader, kind of being a big brother to guys, telling guys where to go and holding people accountable.”
“I think this year (is when I realized I had to play that role). Last year was tough especially with our freshmen not really knowing what to expect. Going out there and not really knowing the plays and trying to play hard. This year it’s a no excuse mentality, they know what to expect and guys are being held accountable.”
On the team’s improvement: “First and foremost we’re more mature this year. We kind of went through those live bullets, we’ve taken those losses, we’ve taken those overtime losses and we know that each possession means everything. We’re not really taking anything for granted.
On injuries and preventing them: “We’ve really trained our bodies this offseason. I know Derrick and myself really went through tough rehab with our feet because we went out around the same time so we kind of went through the process together.
On which sophomore improved the most: “I wouldn’t say any player specifically (has me excited). I would say the whole sophomore class. Muhammad, Aubrey, Kameron, Ricky and then Duncan and DJ. Duncan and DJ couldn’t play last year and I think they’ll really help us a lot this year. DJ with his length and athleticism and his ability to guard different players defensively – his versatility is just off the charts. And then Duncan with his shooting ability, you can’t really put a price on shooting. He can really shoot the basketball and he can really pass the ball as well.”
On Duncan Robinson: “Duncan is special. Duncan is really special. Any time that you can get a guy coming from the Division III level to the Division I level, I mean you know he’s special. He can really shoot the basketball. The biggest thing is himself, once he knows that he’s one of the best shooters in the country and when he really goes out there and plays like it – that will be his ceiling when he realizes that its reality.”
On the interior players: “Our bigs have really made huge improvements – Mark Donnal especially. I know Mark was really sick going into the season last year so he lost a lot of weight. This year he’s been really healthy and he’s made great improvements. His jumper has been really good and he’s been rebounding the ball well and running the floor well.