You were born in San Diego, but went to high school in Pennsylvania. What prompted your family's move across the country?
"When I was about four, my dad's job brought us out to Pennsylvania. All my other family is (in California). I still consider California home to me, but I grew up in PA literally all my life."
What was it like growing up in Lebanon, PA?
"It's almost like Buies Creek, to be honest. Everyone knows pretty much everyone. Sports are a big deal, especially football and basketball. There wasn't much to do – play sports most of the time, stay out of trouble; hang out with friends."
What other sports did you play? What made you decide on pursue basketball at this level?
"In high school I stopped playing football, but my sophomore and junior years I played volleyball and was actually pretty good. I also did the high jump in track in my senior year. I started (playing basketball) really young. I still have pictures of me shooting basketball in the park when I was really young. My dad played high school basketball in San Diego. He's also about 6-7, so that's where I get my height from. The love of the game just came from playing my whole life."
Why did you decide to attend Fork Union Military Academy for prep school after graduating from Cedar Crest High School?
"My age was one factor. I was 17 when I graduated from high school. Coming from a small town there's not much exposure (to college scouts) you can get. More of the inner city kids than the small town kids got AAU exposure. Also, the player I am today is not the player I was in high school. Going to prep school, strength-wise, maturity-wise, helped me out and to get more exposure to schools."
What was it like to be a student at a military school?
"It was tough. Looking back on it now, it was a great experience. While you're there, you don't really think about it like that because of 6 a.m. wake up calls, uniforms, marching, taking orders from kids that might be two, three years younger than you. That was a big problem at first, but you have to adapt to it. My coach really helped out and led us through that. The physicality of it – the whole month of September was just running. You had basketball practice; then you go run two hours. That's what really got me prepared for college. It's so structured; you have a routine every day. You had a roommate; you had to clean your room, room inspections, all that stuff. It was neat, looking back on it now and it was a good experience, but at the time you were just trying to make it through."
What made you choose Campbell?
"I was recruited by (former assistant) coach (Dan) Geriot, who is now with the (Cleveland) Cavs. I liked the coaching staff. When I visited, it was May, so a lot of the people were gone, but the facilities are amazing, the people here are great, and I really like my teammates, so that's what drew me here."
How do you describe Buies Creek to people who have never been here?
"To people from Lebanon, I tell them it's about like home. There's not much to do, so you've got to find your stuff to do, like driving 45 minutes to Raleigh. You really just focus on sports and school. Just like Lebanon, you've got to drive 45 minutes to Lancaster. Philly is about an hour and a half away.
What are the most popular teams back home?
Penn State, Pittsburgh, 76ers, Eagles, Steelers. The Steelers are big down there. Pittsburgh is about four hours away, but they're just better (than the Eagles), so I think people just like them more. I'm a (San Diego) Chargers fan. They're die-hard Steelers fans back there, so it's pretty fun to mess with them and get my opinion out there."
To what do you attribute your improvement over last year that has resulted in your starting position?
"I think my confidence was the biggest thing over this whole time. I didn't get to play too much last year, and I think confidence was a big reason. Over the spring and summer I knew that I had to play better, that really drove me to work harder than ever before to improve. That's what you have to do. There's no other choice, or you're just going to be back on the bench."
How do you gain confidence?
"When you get in the gym by yourself and start making more shots, you get a little more confident and that translates to pick up, individual workouts, and when all that gets together, that's when your confidence starts going. Obviously, you want to be a humble person, that's who I am. But I've always told that the most basketball-lucky people are those who work the hardest. That's what I've tried to do my whole life."
What is it like to play the center position in Campbell's "Princeton" inspired offense?
"I like to have the control in most situations. I have the confidence in myself to make the right play. This is my second year, so I know the offense very well, and I trust my teammates enough and we've been together long enough to know what each other likes to do. The offense really compliments a lot of our players."
You are the leading shot blocker in the Big South Conference. How do you develop those skills?
"Most of the time, it's just a weak side block for me. Most of the people I play against, now that they know I like to block shots, they try to get me up in the air, but I just try to stay down. Defensively is where I can help the team the most. There will be times when I get my points, but defense is something I've always prided myself on."
What was going through your mind when you made your first college start on opening night at Oklahoma State?
I" had been waiting for that game for a long time. At the time, I was just thinking, 'Do your thing. This is what you've been working so hard for.' Not much more than that was going through my mind. Once the game gets going, you're excited; your teammates get you hyped up. You hear your name for the first time. That's a great experience. Then the put back (dunk), I just surprised myself. It just kind of happened."
What's it like to be a basketball player at Campbell University
"Some of the students have a bad perception about athletes. I know that a few of us, like Khadre' (Lane) and I for sure, have tried to break that perception. I consider myself just another Campbell student who happens to play basketball here. And I think that's how most of the people on the team think. That also helps with fan support, so if they see we're not a bunch of jerks; that makes it a lot easier for them to come out and cheer for us."
What's the 2016-17 Fighting Camel team like from an insider's point of view?
"We're all really close. That helps a lot. We all have our eyes set on one thing, that's winning the Big South. Once you have that desire to win, that drives everyone to be better. You can only get better every day in practice because of that."
What's the most interesting place you've visited?
Aruba was an amazing experience. Going deep sea fishing. The beaches are insanely beautiful. They call it the happiest island on earth. The people there are great.
Where would you like to visit?
"Italy, definitely go visit Jon (Ander Cuadra) in Spain, Iceland, Greece, and some of the friends I've made here are from overseas. I'd like to visit one of my friends on the tennis team here who is from France. I'd like to take that whole European tour, especially since I've already been there with the team (in August 2015).
What is one opponent you'd like to see on Campbell's schedule?
"USC. Southern Cal. We've been talking about trying to get a west coast game so my family out there could come see me play."
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
"I used to be really into Legos. I probably stopped actually playing with them when I was about 15 or 16 years old. You could just create whatever you want. That was the coolest thing ever."
Why did you choose business administration as a major? Other than pro basketball, what are your career goals?
"I know that I want to go into the sales part of business. My ability to talk to people easily is something that will help me out, especially on the sales end. Being a basketball player, I've been with a team my whole life, so that's what's drawn me into the field, being a part of a business team and working toward a common goal."