May 25, 2010
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Former Missouri Tiger DeMarre Carroll has been no stranger to the Columbia community since he was drafted in the first round of the NBA by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009. The nephew of Head Coach Mike Anderson, Carroll often returns to Mizzou to watch his former teammates play and will hold a summer camp June 7-11 at the Midwest Sports Academy.
MUTigers.com caught up with Carroll during a workout inside Mizzou Arena as he continues working towards what could be a playoff run for his Grizzlies in 2011.
Q: Talk about your rookie season. What did you learn and what will you work on heading into 2011?
DC: My rookie year, a lot of ups and downs, but it was a great experience. The main things I am working on now are becoming a better on-ball defender, improving my ability to handle the ball on the perimeter and knocking down the NBA three with more consistency. The off-season is when you make those improvements, those strides, so that’s why I’m in here right now.
Q: Name one thing that you learned at Mizzou that translated well into the NBA game?
DC: Being aggressive. If you are passive or go at anything other than full speed, it’s just not going to work in the NBA. I learned how to play at that next speed and with aggression and passion here at Mizzou. It’s helped me make the transition.
Q: I see you in here shooting with the NBA ball. How is it different from the Nike ball we use during home games?
It’s different. (The NBA ball) is slicker and it’s heavier. I think I could shoot that Nike ball from half court now. The basketball definitely makes you work on your skill level. It won’t bounce like the college ball. You really have to be solid with the ball or you’ll turn it over, so that was an adjustment at first too.
Q: Memphis is one of the young, improving teams in the NBA. What will get the Grizzlies over the hump next year and into the playoffs?
DC: It’s about attention to detail. We had a lot of games that we could have won that we ended up losing. We started off losing our first eight games last season and with better attention to detail maybe we’ll start next year off with eight straight wins. It’s a small margin for error in the NBA. Everyone is talented and you have to take care of the little things to be successful.
Q: We saw you on an NBA Cares commercial this season… I think you were planting a tree. Is that tree still alive?
DC: Haha, I don’t know. I hope it’s still alive. I think it’s still alive. But it was a program I’m proud to be a part of. We need to give back. There are so many great people out there that aren’t as fortunate. NBA Cares gets us involved in the community so we can make an impact on our cities.
Q: Speaking of giving back, you are holding a camp in the coming weeks. What led you to have an event here in Columbia?
DC: I want to make this a tradition. We have a lot of guys that go on professionally and I hope this is just the first step in getting those guys back here to Columbia. Maybe it grows when some of the current guys move on professionally and they will come back. This is just the first step.
Q: Missouri is really on the upswing nationally. Do you take some pride knowing that you played a big part in this program’s growth?
DC: I’m real proud of what’s being accomplished here. I’m proud of everything going on at Mizzou, not just basketball. When I got here there weren’t a lot of positive feelings towards the program, but that’s changed. It’s not just a football school anymore. These guys today are changing that. I’m just proud to have been a part of it.
Q: Current and former Tigers really love coming back here. What makes Columbia so special to you guys?
DC: It’s the people. You come back and people come up and say hello and ask about you as a person. The people of Columbia played a big role in shaping me and they helped us as a team by supporting this program. It’s a great place to be… that’s why I come back here so often.
Q: Missouri has a large class of incoming players entering the program. What words of wisdom do you have for that group as they start hitting campus here in the next few weeks?
DC: Listen to your leaders. Listen to Coach Anderson and his staff and the veterans, like Justin (Safford). Guys that were freshmen when I was here… like Kimmie (English), Marcus (Denmon), Laurence (Bowers) and Steve (Moore). Those guys have seen what it takes to make the NCAA Tournament. They know what else needs to be done to get further in the tournament. This class came in ranked pretty high, but once you step on campus, that ranking doesn’t mean much if you don’t listen to your leaders and be willing to grow.