by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13
A 6-9 power forward from Cleveland, MS, Johnny O’Bryant was on the recruiting radar for quite some time before he committed to Louisiana State University on October 7. Any coach who recruited O’Bryant knew what they were getting: a hard nosed, blue collar post player who has a developing post repertoire and mid-range jumper that will make him even tougher for opponents to handle in the future.
As most coaches will tell you, finding a post player who works hard all the time and has a high-level “motor” are important keys to their development in the future. I recently caught up with O’Bryant via email to talk all things basketball and his recent commitment to the Tigers.
SLAM: Recently, you decided to take your game to Coach Trent Johnson’s program at LSU. How did they recruit you and what factors helped you to make your decision?
Johnny O’Bryant: Their recruitment was kind of laid back not too annoying and I really liked that.. The whole coaching staff are very good people and the fact that I felt comfortable on campus and around the players and coaches was my deciding factors.
SLAM: What other schools were in the running for you?
JO: Ole Miss and Maryland where programs I took a very hard look at also, both Coach Kennedy and Coach Williams are great coaches and have great programs and they kinda just came hard and strong and made a good push.
SLAM: When did you start to play basketball and how did you develop a relationship with the game when you were younger? Every player is different — what’s your story?
JO: I enjoyed football when I was younger playing with the older kids on the block but my mom always sign me up for any sport she could basketball, baseball, football. I started playing basketball around 7 just too have something to do, but as I got older and started to grow I was put in the position to play basketball a lot so I just took a liking to it and stuck with me.
SLAM: Who was your favorite player growing up? Do you model your game after anybody in particular?
JO: I wasn’t a big basketball fan growing up but I watched a lot of football and Randy Moss was my idol growing up playing football. My favorite player now is Carmelo Anthony because of his ability to post and dribble and shoot the ball so well. I don’t really model my game after any particular player. I just try to be the best I can be.
SLAM: Who were some of your mentors growing up and how have they helped you get to the point that you are at today?
JO: My biggest mentor so far has been my high school coach, Leroy Cotton. He believed in me from a very young age and tries hard as he can to keep me level headed and on task as player and person.
SLAM: Being a big kid and growing up in Mississippi were there ever pressures on you to play football? Why did you gravitate towards basketball?
JO: No not really I was always a big kid so people always wanted me to participate in some kind of sport and basketball was a sport that I just fell in love as I continued to play it.
SLAM: You’re the kind of player that brings a lot of energy to the table. How did you learn to play with such passion and intensity each and every time you took the floor?
JO: Playing with bigger kids as you grow up you learn to either play hard when they pick you or not get picked all.
SLAM: Along with immense energy what are some of your other strengths?
JO: Some people list me as a center but I can do a lot of skill stuff as far as shooting and dribbling and passing also. But my biggest strength is rebounding. I’m capable of rebounding at a very high level.
SLAM: What do you need to work on to become an elite level player at LSU?
JO: The college game is bigger stronger and faster so I would say just getting my body physically ready for that type of play.
SLAM: What do you like to do with your free time—have you played NBA 2k11 yet?
JO: I play a lot of video games with my family and friends. Yes, I played 2k11 my favorite part about it is all the Jordan sneakers you can unlock!
SLAM: What will you major in and why? Where do you see yourself after college?
JO: I don’t really know my college major as of now but probably something that deals with helping kids. After college I wanna hopefully be doing something that can support my family for the rest of our lives no matter if its basketball, coaching or just having a regular job.