Q & A: Thomas Bryant at McDonald’s All-American media day

  • 03/31/2015 1:55 pm in

CHICAGO – Class of 2015 Huntington Prep (W.V.) big man Thomas Bryant was at the United Center on Tuesday afternoon for media day for the McDonald’s All-America Game.

Inside the Hall had the chance to sit down with Bryant, who is considering the Hoosiers, for a one-on-one interview. Here’s a full transcript of our conversation:

How’s this experience been for you so far these last couple of days?

“It’s been great. It’s a once in a lifetime thing and I’m just blessed to be here and I’m just thanking God each and every day.”

As far as the game tomorrow night, sometimes it can be a guard dominated game, how do you make your mark?

“I’m just going to play hard, play smart and just don’t worry about whether it’s a guard oriented game because I still have a national tournament to play with Huntington Prep right after this, but I’m just living in the moment right now and I’m just blessed and am taking full advantage of it because I know it won’t happen again.”

What’s the transition like playing in an all-star game like this to go back to the team you’ve been with all season?

“It’s good because you get to wind down a little bit and play in an all-star game, have some fun but also know in the back of your head not to get too lackadaisical because you still have a team that is counting on you and still have to be in that mindset that it’s a national tournament that you’re trying to win and let’s get serious.”

Reading your comments from yesterday, do you anticipate making a decision after that tournament? Or are you still thinking that through?

“I’m thinking about trying to make it soon, but I’m just taking it day by day. My mom and I are talking over it and once we’re in agreement on everything, that’s when everybody else will know. It shouldn’t be too long.”

You were on a visit recently to Indiana for the Michigan State game, what were your impressions and what are your overall impressions of Tom Crean and how you might fit into that system?

“If I chose Indiana, being a dominant player, I’d be a key focal point because being there and putting the hard work in and also just having a bunch of shooters around you, they double down and I kick out for an open 3 or if they don’t help down, I could get a bucket down low, also. That game with Michigan State, they had heart, they played their hearts outs and the way they lost was just hard. You just know that they fight each and every day.”

Will it be a factor on whether Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams decide to return to school?

“I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t really heard too much. As far as I know, they’re there and they’re still going to be there.”

You mentioned (yesterday) that Syracuse and Kentucky hadn’t been in quite as much contact with you, would you say that Indiana is recruiting you the hardest right now?

“Yeah, Indiana and Missouri.”

What about the Mizzou program is keeping them in the mix and what do you like about them?

“Just coach Rob (Fulford) being there and him being my old coach (at Huntington Prep) and also Montaque Gill-Caesar who was my old teammate last year and me and him have so much chemistry together and we just love playing with each other.”

Your game in general, how would you describe it and what are you working on the most now as you head into your college career?

“I would say I’m a guy that always brings energy and passion to the game. I never let a day off. I’m also a guy who has developed tremendously on the offensive and defensive end to being quicker, being more lateral and also a guy that is an interior scorer and an outside scorer that can shoot a jump shot, too.”

(Photo credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • Rushman

    Completely agree.

  • Tcuomo

    I’m glad Whitehead actually came up in a discussion. I have been meaning to comment about him. I think we actually dodged a bullet by not getting him. First game I saw him play he got T’d up for taunting Butler’s bench. The kid sure can score, but I think there might be an attitude problem. In fact, out of Whitehead, Pinson, Robinson, Bluiett, and RoJo, I wanted RoJo the least. Pinson and Whitehead were the top 2 that I wanted to see and was really disappointed. Boy was I wrong and I’m not afraid to admit it. Bluiett is probably the only person you could argue that had a better season than RoJo. Pinson ended up injured and Whitehead and Robinson couldn’t help procure W’s. Although Robinson did earn All SEC honors.

  • Stan is no longer a worry, “he gone” as the teens say now-a-days.

  • SilentBob

    If it were any other player with any other team I may agree with you. But this team had a lot of young inexperienced players playing out of position. We will be going from one of the least experienced teams in the BIG to one of the most experienced teams if we retain Yogi and Troy. We relied on young players like James and Rob to carry us and in the end their conditioning and inexperience failed them (Go ahead an insert Coach Crean if it makes you feel better). If these were any other guys I’d doubt their ability to get much better in a single offseason, but if we go off their reputation they aren’t just players who can get a lot better but have a strong desire to get a lot better. Even though we had an awful end to the season, our boys played their hearts out and will learn from that I guarantee it.

    Finally this kid is absolutely everything we need. Not Thon, who is probably the better individual talent, but Thomas. From everything I’ve read this kid is a ferocious rebounder and has a second to none motor. His high school persona also seems to mark a person who will easily translate to a leader even as a freshmen. Last year we had one average post defender who could barely chalk up 20 minutes a game and performance was unpredictable to say the least. Add Thomas next year, and another offseason of improvement from Hanner, and a weakness could possibly become a strength. Add to that a return to players natural positions and we should be able to use our speed as an advantage. If Crean has the sense to go to a two guard lineup and start Troy and Collin with Thomas we will be one of the best rebounding teams in the BIG easily. We can stop relying on our guards crash the boards as hard and should be able to start the break much easier as a result. Also I know we seem to say this every year, but we’re going to have incredible depth next season. Hopefully this will allow us to rest our starters more when the competition is less stellar.

  • Ms hoosier

    Got my first look at TB today this kid will make a big difference at IU. He’s better than I thought. I hope we get him but I’m worried we won’t

  • cooper

    Not sure what his comments mean. Can’t tell if he is saying he would dominate at IU and be best player from day one or what.

    hopefully other recruits at the game aren’t chirping in his ear

  • SeeingRed

    Why? Because Draymond Green played FOUR years in college for one of the best college coaches there is. He had time to develop his game in college and he continues to improve in the NBA. Bryant may end up better than Green some day, but it won’t be while he is a Hoosier if he is a one or two and done.

    That said, we will gladly take a young and raw Thomas Bryant for as long as he’ll have us.

  • SCHoosier

    Thank you Arch..way too much speculating out there..TB is a man child..but he is a long way from being THE man for IU.

  • RDD#76

    I agree with Ken plus if the freshman improve over the summer like Collin did this year I see major improvement plus if any recruit plays his way in to the rotation could be deep

  • Ole Man

    Yeah; let’s be just like everybody else.

  • oldiugymnast

    I disagree. It is about the team, not the player. Of all the old traditions, this one makes the most sense to me. I have no problem, however, with headbands, sleeves and the compression things they wear – even though except headbands they don’t do anything at all.

  • oldiugymnast

    Mark it on your calendars – Ole man and I agree on something!!! 🙂

  • oldiugymnast

    Funny – everytime I go to San Francisco (live a couple of hours south) every millennial I see has sleeves or at least 5 visible tattoos. I wonder to myself if they think they can be no-collar workers forever, but at least they made a commitment. Ha!

  • Ole Man

    LOL.
    Well, there’s another thing.
    We both love IU and IU basketball!

  • ronb

    Have a thread taking about the kids head band is crazy. We should be talking about things like his skill set, how he fits our style of play, his goals, can he shoot further away from the basket more than 10 feet, can he set picks, can he protect the rim, etc. if all we to talk about is a head band we are in trouble. …….Just sayin

  • hoosier93

    That reason is an absolute joke. Time to catch up to the times. It isn’t 1955 anymore.

  • Jeremy

    I like our chances but you never no. It seems momma has a lot of influence. We definately need him to bring some intensity on defense. Also, I do not want to knock JBJ he is a nice talent but someone has to teach the kid how to play defense.

  • ForeverIU

    Congrats, Ole Gymnast! Now you gotta start LOLing.

  • oldiugymnast

    Right you are sir. And nice to laugh together now and then even if we don’t always agree!

  • oldiugymnast

    Okay – if you say so. I disagree, but I won’t lose sleep over the tradition ending. However, I still like the tradition – and I don’t really like many traditions.

  • TomJameson

    I agree with your disagreement … lol I like some tradition but think others can be re-assessed. But this tradition does mean something, it’s a symbol of teamwork. Makes sense.

  • TomJameson

    I think sweet 16 .. after that luck starts to sneak into the equation

  • hoosier93

    Traditions are gone. Bobby knight is gone. Those players are gone. Time to start new ones. Time to modernize. Time for change.

  • hoosier93

    It is a symbol of teamwork…. I guess none of the other teams that we’re so behind care about teamwork.

  • Shawn Congo

    Jbj wears them

  • Barancy Peloma

    Modernize? Like what Suggestions are those?
    I can’t think of anything significant that would in any way improve the quality of the program.

  • IUBizmark

    I haven’t heard a single recruit complain or even mention not having their name on the IU jersey as a reason they’d consider going elsewhere.

  • IUBizmark

    Just read an article on the Mizzou SB Nation site talking about how their program is in disarray and has post players transferring. About half way down they discuss Bryant and their chances of landing them. The author called it “a pipe dream” at this point to land TB. I think, barring a swoop in from UK, which is definitely possible, we’re in very very good shape.

  • TomJameson

    hoosier93, not all teams have the same symbols, or moral values, or fan support, or history, or etc…

    I really don’t see a reason to change something that has traditionally symbolized teamwork, in a team sport like basketball, just because other teams don’t have that same tradition.

    Now it wouldn’t break my heart to see names on the jerseys, but certainly we can come up with a better reason than “everybody else does it”.

    That’s like all the youngins in America want to be unique and different, so ALL of them wear their pants down to their knees and show off their a$$. That’s a uniformity that I can do without. LOL

  • Hoosier89

    I hope no one we recruit wants to be Allen Iverson. What a chucker.

  • Hoosier89

    I’d take Killingsworth in that Duke game all day.

  • IUBizmark

    Allow me to assuage those worries. This was from the Mizzou SB Nation site. I’m sure you can look it up.

    So where does Mizzou get another post player? Woods and Edwards wouldn’t be a terrible solution, but losing J3 is a blow no matter what. J3 was a great rebounder who was miscast as the go-to guy. Thomas Bryant is a pipe dream at this point, but until he announces for Indiana I’m keeping him on the list, but please, people … stop asking me about him. He’s not coming to Missouri. The coaches know he isn’t, people around the program know he isn’t, I know he isn’t. He’s not coming. If something Infinitesimally wild happens and he ends up at Mizzou, then we’ll all just be happy about it.

  • hoosier93

    Well all of those programs are in much better shape than IU’s has been the last decade or last decades. Indiana just keeps falling behind because we still want to believe it is 1987.

  • hoosier93

    A chucker and one of the greatest guards of all time. He had more influence with today’s players than MJ.

  • Hoosier89

    Bahahahaha please

  • hoosier93

    Apparently you don’t know how much of an influence AI had. And just how good he was. Dude carried a crap 76ers team to the Finals.

  • marcusgresham

    True, but Aundrae Patterson once lit up Duke, too.

  • oldiugymnast

    I don’t think that is the reason we aren’t yet caught up. We had a great, but deeply flawed, coach for nearly 3 decades and he at some point decided he would start acting like a spoiled child and has all but destroyed his legacy as a result. That was followed by a decent coach and decent man who did pretty well and then got run out by people with expectations that were built in 1975.

    That was followed by a guy who cheated, sort of. And who was a great coach according to the young men that played for him. I still think that this was the NCAA’s long running vendetta against Bobby Knight at work – but I wasn’t there and can’t be sure. The more strident fans made sure that everyone associated with that team except Tom Prichard were branded as thugs, thieves and drug addicts based on nothing more than rumors and we lost several really, really good ball players including Jordan Crawford as a result.

    We were sanctioned by the NCAA, were short schollys for 4 years, and still managed to make a couple of decent runs in the tournament and win an outright B1G. Now, I know you all think Crean sucks – but given all that has happened, I think our pace of comeback is pretty remarkable. You all may be right that Crean won’t ever get us a championship – but we have come a long way. And if we get Mr. Bryant to come play for us, we will be a whole different team next year. Get Maker too – look out! Next year if we get one or the other we go from being young, not exceptionally long and completely lacking in front court to being fast, great shooting, big (with 5 pretty big wings and a couple of decent options at the 4 and 5) and long. Sure – a lot of ifs there, and other stuff can happen.

    Anyway – long post, but the bottom line is that this tradition isn’t why we had a down season and a decent but not what we want season. Its 2 decades of Knight’s decline followed by a coach that wasn’t a great recruiter, a cheater and then our slow climb out of that gutter.

  • oldiugymnast

    What I don’t get about memory is how the Crean haters forget that we lost our best big for most of those games, and then one game after he came back, we lost our glue player when Hartman got hurt. And also in that mix was RJ and JBJ getting some bum wheels (RJ hurt his knee and JBJ hurt his ankle. We didn’t really have ready options to come in and fill the gaps and our offense that was so incredible started missing shots and not making as clean of cuts, etc. I am not making excuses, as these things ACTUALLY happened. The only complaint you guys have that actually seems grounded in a clear headed assessment of the season is that the switching Ds was confusing our players and still not putting us in good position to rebound.

  • TomJameson

    Good analysis!

  • CreamandCrimson

    “Crean haters”, “you guys”…I’m an IU fan, not a Crean lover or Crean hater. I don’t know why there is a need (by many posters, not just you) to categorize everyone into different camps. Anyway, yes, Perea and Hartman and Johnson and Blackmon dealt with injuries of varying severity, that’s very true. I’m not able to convince myself that next year’s squad will be in the top ten the whole season or that they will be primed to make a Final Four run because the most recent version of IU basketball that I watched was below average for the final 15 games of the season (5-10 record) and didn’t beat an NCAA Tournament team during that time. The most recent version of our Hoosiers also didn’t have a win all season against a team that went to the Sweet 16.

    So, I can’t forget those things and convince myself that a great season is imminent. I also wrote that others are welcome to their opinion and I can certainly see why others would believe that a run to something great is coming our way next season. My larger concern with Tom Crean as IU’s head coach is the defensive efficiency rankings that his squads historically have. When looking at his entire career, there aren’t many of his teams that reach the level of defensive efficiency that would allow IU to consistently compete for Big Ten titles or National titles and for me, that’s a huge issue. It doesn’t mean it 100% can’t change and I don’t think having that concern makes me a “hater”…whatever that means, I’ve never met the guy and I certainly don’t hate him. It doesn’t mean I won’t root for him and our Hoosiers and hope for the best.

  • IUMIKE1

    Good heavens it’s a headband ! With all the other things that players wear now is it really necessary to outlaw them on a team. I say let them wear one if they want to as long as they don’t try to make some kind of statement about something while doing it.

  • Sam Reisert

    Last Hoosier I can remember wearing one was Pat Ewing Jr. It did not work out well for him lol