Jakeenan Gant is one of three freshmen joining the Tiger roster this season.
June 18, 2014
Freshman forward Jakeenan Gant signed with Missouri last November and while the Top 100 talent waited patiently during Missouri's search for a new men's basketball coach, the Springfield, Ga., native remained confident his future program would hire the right man for the job. Shortly after Kim Anderson was announced and Associate Head Coach Tim Fuller remained with the staff, Gant reaffirmed his commitment to Mizzou, helping Anderson maintain one of the top recruiting classes in the SEC.
Gant is coming off a spectacular senior season (2013-14) in which he was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Georgia by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 2.8 assists for the Rebels as a senior, helping Effingham County to a 20-10 overall record and an appearance in the Georgia Class 5A state playoffs. As a junior, Gant was named the Georgia Class 5A Player of the Year, averaging 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and nearly four blocked shots per game. Effingham County finished the 2013 season with a 27-5 record and Gant burst onto the national scene with his all-state performance.
Q: Going back through the recruiting process, what made you select Mizzou?:
JK: "It was great spot for me. I really liked the campus. I liked the coaching staff and the guys on the team just made me feel comfortable. We are a young team, but I liked knowing I would be playing with good players that I could learn from and improve with."
Q: Was the recruiting process challenging?
JK: "I had some great schools looking at me and offering me, so I just kept an open mind and looked at what each one had to offer. At the end of the day though, Mizzou felt like home. It was where I wanted to be. I really liked everything about my visit, from the people to the facilities and of course the campus."
Q: Was the waiting game to see who would be named the new head coach difficult?
JK: "There was some uncertainty (during the search process), but that's a part of it. Coach Fuller and everyone at Mizzou did a good job of staying in contact and reassuring me."
Q: What has been your impressions of Coach Anderson so far?
JK: "He's a great coach. From the first day I talked to him, right after he was hired, he seemed like a real genuine guy. He won it all last year, so he knows what he is doing and it's been great going through workouts and getting to know him and Coach Loos."
Q: What has been some of the biggest adjustments for you since arriving at college?
JK: "Getting up early has been the biggest adjustment (laughing). We get up early and come to work and I've been working out a couple of times a day, just trying to get better. It's a grind. Playing college basketball and getting prepared to play your best isn't easy, but learning to fight through that soreness and some pain has been the biggest adjustment for me personally, but it's helping me."
Q: You played in the USA Basketball U18 Training Camp. What was that experience like?
JK: "It was a great experience. I had the chance to play against some of the top players in the nation and I saw what I needed to work on. The altitude did get to me a little bit out there. It's different playing out there, but it was fun. It was a great opportunity, one I can build from."
Q: What are some of those areas for improvement you want to focus on this summer?
JK: "I feel like you can always be working on your perimeter jumper, but for me it was just playing loose out there, playing fluid. I want to keep playing with confidence, work on my ability to attack the rim."
Q: What would you like to do after you are done playing basketball?
JK: "I hope to open my own family business, a restaurant. I want to major in Business Administration at Mizzou because, of course, I want to be the one running the place. I would have my family doing the cooking."
Q: You want your family doing the cooking... but can you cook?
JK: "Oh yeah, I can cook. I cook omelets, pretty much anything you would want for breakfast. I can also cook Shepherd's Pie. I do alright in the kitchen.
Be sure to follow mutigers.com for more summer Q&A features on Mizzou Basketball, as well as the summer blog from junior forward Ryan Rosburg.
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