Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Interview with Marcus Ginyard

After watching Marcus Ginyard practice and talking to him for the first time on Jan. 5, my primary impression leaving Bishop O’Connell High School was: he is a player any coach or teammate would love to have on his or her team. A 6-5 combo guard who has good shooting form to go along with his lanky, athletic build, Ginyard looks to pass first, encourages his teammates and heeds advice. If anything, he’s too unselfish, which is reflected by his modest stats.

Ginyard, a junior, committed to UNC on Aug. 29. His head coach is Joe Wootten (son of former legendary coach Morgan Wootten) who not only keeps an upbeat practice, but most importantly teaches players after a mistake or job well done. Ginyard’s brother Ronald is an assistant coach. Ginyard grew up in Prince William County, Va., and now lives in Alexandria, Va. He honed his skills playing AAU mostly in Maryland and Virginia.

In the first game of the Beach Ball Classic on Dec. 27, Ginyard sprained his ankle, and sat out the third and final game against national power St. Raymond’s (N.Y.), which Bishop O’Connell lost to by three points. However, watching him put back his own shot with a vertical, two-handed dunk during a drill showed me his taped left ankle isn’t affecting him much. After practice, I sat down and talked with this young man who will most likely be a fine addition to Roy Williams’s system and has a chance to be a special player in Chapel Hill.

BG: Who helped you develop your game?
Ginyard: Well at first, it was my parents – mostly my mom and my brother. My brother is an assistant coach now. It was her and my brother up until about 9 and 10. Then at that point it was just playing AAU, just playing against better competition all the time.

BG: What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses?
Ginyard: Earlier last year and the year before my weakness was definitely my shooting. And now I think that’s gotten a lot stronger, but I still got a long way to go with that. Defense, I think, is one of my strengths, that and just getting after it out there on the court, going 100 percent.

BG: What are your goals in high school?
Ginyard: I definitely want to win the league. We haven’t done that here at O’Connell, I think, ever. We never won the league. I definitely want to win States again, and be All-American and all that good stuff.

BG: Do you have any goals for college?
Ginyard: Basically just to play in college everybody wants to win a national championship. And win the ACC. Here at O’Connell, the biggest accomplishment is winning the league, just to show the teams in your league that you’re the best in the league. So then if you’re the best in the league – there’s only so many leagues in the country – so then you’re automatically in that top 20 basically, especially for college.

BG: How good is your league? Is it one of the most competitive?
Ginyard: I think it’s the best league in the country.

BG: Is that the main reason you came here?
Ginyard: Yeah, it’s just competitive. Every game in the league is competitive.

BG: How’s your ankle?
Ginyard: It’s doing a lot better. As you can you see, I’m pretty much 100 percent. I think I’m 90 percent right now. Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be about 95, maybe 100 percent. I’m getting up really good now. The game that I sat out – the game before actually I played and it was really weak, it was really bothering me, so I decided to take the next game off and let it heal. I got a good six days off from the game. I think today might actually be my seventh day not playing (in a game).

BG: Was it a sprain?

Ginyard: Yeah, I sprained it. I had a grade A sprain. It was just really bothering me. So that week off gave me some time to strengthen up again.

BG: Since you’ve committed to UNC, do you feel like there’s more pressure on you?
Ginyard: At the same time you have pressure, but then again it’s a relief. It’s a relief that you can go out and play your game every night. You’re a little more relaxed out there. But at the same time, you have a lot of people gunning for you now. People say, ‘Hey, I want a piece of the UNC guy,’ which is good though because that means you raise your level of competition every day.

BG: Do have examples of that during games where players are tougher or coaches are changing their strategy?
Ginyard: Not in particular. It’s more of a personal thing to some people. I know personally when I was a freshman and I heard about some good player – not necessarily whether they had committed or not, but just knowing that they’re good – you want to go out and show everybody in the stands that hey, I can compete with this kid too. So a lot of players take it as a personal challenge.

BG: Is there some trash talking in the league?
Ginyard: Yeah, it gets there, but it’s good though. It keeps the competitive level high.

BG: Has the media treated you differently since you committed to UNC?
Ginyard: Not really. It’s about the same. It’s just something that they get to talk about. But other than that I don’t think it’s really changed that much.

BG: How do you feel when critics say your not a good enough player to commit to a top program like UNC at such a young age?

Ginyard: That’s just motivation to keep getting better and to eventually show them that I am good enough for that. I think anybody in the world would take that on as a challenge if somebody were to say, ‘You’re not good enough to do this.’ Not a lot of people would back down, especially athletes. And so that’s just motivation.

BG: Who do you talk to mostly for personal advice?
Ginyard: Probably my brother. Definitely my brother. Being the assistant coach he sees a lot of the floor as a coach that most spectators don’t see. There are some people out there that know the game, but he sees more than most spectators. And also being my brother it’s good because you have him at the house, you can talk to him all the time, and he sees things on the court. So I think he’s the most influential when it comes to advice and stuff on basketball.

BG: Did he play?

Ginyard: He did play in high school and he played one year in college at Pace University before he decided that he was going to give basketball up and just go to school.

BG: How many years older is he?

Ginyard: Five and a half. So he just turned 22 in December.

BG: Who are your role models?

Ginyard: Definitely I have to say my mom because she just goes out and does what she has to do. She’s not worried about what anybody else says. She’s just doing what she’s got to do. So that’s good to see. And then, everybody around you that you see succeed, and it’s good to see that and you feel like, ‘Alright, people around me can do it, I can do it too.’

BG: Who do you seek for basketball advice? Is it your brother, and is he your best friend?
Ginyard: Yeah. He’s still not old, so it’s not like he’s one of those guys that you can’t approach, but at the same time he’s still got that experience.

BG: What are your hobbies?

Ginyard: Just playing basketball and staying focused, hanging out with friends, just trying to stay relaxed. I don’t like to get all tense and stuff. Anything that’s fun, we’ll go out and we’ll do anything. Go bowling, stay home and play PS2, anything to have fun.

BG: Do you know what you’re going to study in college yet?
Ginyard: I definitely want to study business. Owning my own business is definitely something that interests me. I want to study business and I really enjoy math.

BG: Who are you’re favorite pro athletes?

Ginyard: Tracy McGrady. Kevin Garnett. All the tall skinny guys that can jump and play the perimeter basically.

BG: Where are you looking forward to playing in college?

Ginyard: Anywhere on the perimeter. I really feel comfortable anywhere on the perimeter. I think he’s got good enough judgement to put me where I need to be, wherever that has to be I’ll be comfortable.

BG: How many times have you talked to Roy and what have you discussed with him?
Ginyard: I’ve talked to Roy I think personally twice. I talked to Coach Robinson and Coach Holladay a couple times. Basically it’s laid back conversations, talk about how you’ve been doing and stuff like that – what the coaches ate at the barbeque – just laid back conversations.

This story first appeared at

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