This week Keeping It Heel’s lead editor Bryant Douglass had a chance to speak with 2014 UNC commit Joel Berry. Berry committed to UNC as a point guard and is eager to contribute immediately later this fall. Read and get to know Joel better in this exclusive interview below!
Keeping It Heel: Joining me today is 2014 point guard commit Joel Berry, and Joel you’ve already become a Tar Heel fan favorite before ever putting on a UNC jersey. That has to make you feel welcomed, but how exactly does it make you feel?
Joel Berry: Knowing that I’m a Tar Heel favorite already is actually a blessing and a honor because it’s such a awesome opportunity to be able to attend such a prestigious program like UNC and I just want to do what I have to do not only represent myself and my team, but my school and fellow fans.
Now, the history of Carolina basketball is well known. What exactly made you finally sit down and say, “I want to be a Tar Heel?”
What made me finally sit down and say that I wanted to be a Tar Heel was not the basketball side of it because that’s a given, but because Coach Williams as, not only a basketball coach, but my parents and I see him as a father figure that will continue to build on the morals and values that my parents have already instilled in me. Furthermore, the fraternity of guys that I’m affiliating myself with is such a great opportunity and they make you feel like family even if they just met you.
With the possibility of Stilman White returning next season, UNC could be crowded at the “one” should Marcus Paige and Nate Britt return next season. Did any of that influence your decision and if so, how much?
No it didn’t influence my decision because I always talked with Coach Williams about that because he knew I had questions about it. And I also I’m confident enough in my game and in my work ethic to be able to get minutes as a freshmen. All my life I’ve always had to work for what I get, so I’m ready to take on the challenge.
I don’t believe anyone doubts your talent because you’re well known as one of the best point guard recruits in several years. But for those who do, what do you do as a young player stepping into the court for the first time in the national spotlight to convince them you’re a great player and deserve this opportunity to play for Carolina?
Well I just try to stick to what I can do as a player and keep my composure. I know there are going to be times where I struggle and all I can do is continue to develop and learn from the mistakes I make.
Now, fans and recruits clearly notice that the Tar Heels are struggling this season. Do you and your buddies Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson ever chat or text about the games and how the team has been playing?
Yes sir, we text back and forth and talk about the games and how they are doing. We never talk bad about our future teammates because we know they have the talent and the potential to do better. We just talk about how next year we want to come in and make an impact and contribute in anyway we can.
I think you have a big future not only at UNC but wherever you play after college. I don’t doubt you will have a huge rule with this team and you’re already showing leadership qualities that this team needs. But where do you see yourself at the end of your freshman season and what are your goals you hope to accomplish by the point?
I see myself developing my game and being a sponge throughout the year and soaking up all the knowledge that my fellow coaches teach me. I want to accomplish a goal that will not be about me, but the team and that’s winning a national championship. An individual goal that I have set for myself is to be able to get better and be adjusted to the college game.
There have been many great point guards to play for North Carolina. Which Tar Heel do you look up to and which one would you like to model your play after? Obviously you want to be a Joel Berry but there has to be some influences from previous players that will influence your play.
I look up to Ty Lawson because when I was a little kid and watched UNC, I remember him just speeding up the court, beating the defenses and that’s how my game is and that’s what I like to do. Also he could shoot the ball and he just did what his team needed him to do.
So far this college basketball season has been crazy and there really is no clear front runner as to who could win the National Championship. Who does Joel Berry have in his Final Four? Or would it be easier to ask, which teams are contenders for the Final Four?
Yes sir, you’re right about that so it’s really difficult to pick which team will be apart of the Final Four this year, so I’m going to take some random choices on who I think will be there and that is Syracuse, Michigan State, Arizona, and my the last team will be someone who isn’t expected to be there.
Joel Berry is predicting a Cinderella story in this year’s Final Four, but again a huge thanks to Joel for taking a few minutes out of his day to answer some of our questions to share with you! For more on Joel’s journey to UNC and UNC basketball recruiting, be sure to follow us on Twitter @KeepingItHeel and also if you haven’t already go follow Joel Berry!