Monday, February 27, 2017

Video/Transcript: UK Players Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis, Mychal Mulder Pre - Vanderbilt Press Conference Interview Senior Night


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

#25, Dominique Hawkins, Senior, Guard

On how wants to be remembered …

“I feel like I definitely will be remembered for my fight and my heart, always giving 100 percent in each game and diving for loose balls.”

And always smiling …
“And, yeah, always smiling as well. I can’t forget that. Everybody tells me I can’t go a minute without smiling.”

On whether he got that from his mom …
“Pretty much, yes. My mom’s always smiling. I feel like everybody in my family actually just always smiles, so I guess I got the connection from them.”

On Senior Night …
“It’s going to be unbelievable. It’s crazy that it’s actually here now. We’re all going to have fun and just play the game that we love.”

On who’s going to cry …
“I don’t think anybody’s going to cry. I don’t think. I don’t know. We’ll see. Are you thinking I will? We’ll see.”

On whether he’s in trouble if his mom cries …
“Yeah, I’m in trouble.”

On how different this team feels with three contributing seniors …
“It is a different feel because, like you said, there’s three seniors on the team and we all get to play our minutes. It’s good to have veterans on the floor. We’ve been through it all for four years already.”

On how quickly the years have gone by …
“They feel like they flew by. It felt like we were playing in the NCAA Tournament when I was freshman last year. I really didn’t realize how fast it was going by until you actually think about it.”

On whether he expects to play professionally …
“I definitely want to. It’s one of my dreams.”

On what he has taken away from the experience of being in a program like UK …
“What I take out of it is that every game is somebody’s Super Bowl, like Coach Cal says. Coming here, it’s going to be hard to play against anybody because everybody wants to beat you.”

On if he has any regrets …
“I really don’t regret anything, but I wish my freshman to my sophomore year I would have played with more confidence. I feel like I didn’t have the confidence to be aggressive on the offensive end.”

On playing his career high in minutes in his second-to-last home game …
“That means a lot. I never thought I would play that many minutes since I’ve been here, but I enjoyed it and if Coach wants to play me that many minutes, I’ll play it for him.”

On what it means to him to have played here …
“It means a lot to me. Definitely my dream school. Always wanted to come to Kentucky and play. I know how everybody’s passionate about Kentucky basketball and I just wanted to play for everybody in the state of Kentucky and put my heart out for them.”

On how far he has come in four years …
“Yeah, definitely a long ways. I grew each year. I feel like my offensive game is what grew the most. In all my four years, I feel like people are going to remember me as a great defensive person and always wanting to fight when I get out on the court.”

On how he’ll remember Cal …
“I’m going to remember Cal as the greatest coach of all time. I never had a coach like him before. He always got on somebody. It doesn’t matter who it was, even if it was Karl(-Anthony) Towns, Willie (Cauley-Stein), anybody like that. I’ve never seen a coach that gets on their best players and expect them to do more.”

On what he wants to be remembered for …
“I would love for them to remember me for just being a kid from Kentucky willing to go play his heart out every night, or day, when it was game time.”

On his relationship with Derek Willis …
“It’s been unbelievable. In high school, I played against him so much, really didn’t get to talk to him until I came here. He’s definitely become one of my best friends coming here and it’s going to be a great night for us tomorrow.”

On adapting to play with people every year …“It’s definitely a pretty difficult adjustment because you’re playing with new players and you have to learn quickly about them to have a successful team. Once you get clicking and going, Coach Cal knows what he’s doing and he connects us together really well.”

On what he gained from facing so many talented players …“Especially this year, I feel like my offense. Having to guard Tyler (Ulis) in practice last year all the time, I feel like he made more comfortable with the ball because he was guarding me and I never had pressure like that before. Just seeing somebody that small fight, it motivated me to be even better.”

On his ability to adapt …
“It definitely says that I’m able to be patient and wait and figure out things because when Coach is putting me in he wants me to play a certain role and I figure it out and how to play it well.”

On whether anything has surprised him about Kentucky basketball …
“What I was most surprised about what the fans. How they want to take a pictures with you when you go anywhere. I feel like if I wanted to go to the store to get a loaf of bread or something, I’d have to stop and sign an autograph and take a picture. That’s what really surprised me the most out of anything.”

On what he’s most proud of in his time at UK …
“I’m just proud that I was able to be part of a team – many teams actually – because we made it to the Final Four two years. I love last year’s team. I’m very proud of meeting new people on the team and being able to fight for everybody.”

On what it means to him to have played for UK …
“It means a lot because it definitely was my dream school. Growing up watching basketball, everybody in Kentucky is going to watch Kentucky basketball. It means the world to me to be a part of this and I want to thank the Lord for it.”

On his favorite Coach Cal memory …
“I got so many of those. I’m just going to name one. I guess one of my favorite Cal memories is I guess in the Sweet 16 when we were playing against Louisville. He was telling me to just go in and relax and play defense. I was scared to death and he just said, ‘Just go in there and do what you gotta do.’ That’s what made me so comfortable around Coach Cal because even if I made a mistake he was still comfortable with me just playing the game.”

#35, Derek Willis, Senior, Forward

On if it seemed like his four years at Kentucky went by quickly …

“Oh yeah, without a doubt. I think it was like the same thing with high school almost, too. I feel like after my freshman year of high school things started rolling and I was out of there, graduated. Now, same thing with being here. It definitely went by quickly. Usually whenever basketball started, that’s really when it starts taking off. It’s been fun though. I really enjoyed myself.”

On if he feels like he’s come a long way …
“Oh yeah. Definitely learned a lot about basketball and life in general. Growing up and having to adjust to things as a young adult. Just kind of everything that comes with college. It’s been a great experience, learned a lot and had fun.”

On what it meant to him to wear the Kentucky jersey being from the state …
“It’s been everything. I mean, it’s just what you work for. Like I said, since high school it’s been my dream. It’s been great for me and my family. All the work has paid off, just trying to finish off strong now.”

On the big things he’s learned at Kentucky …
“I think patience has really been a big thing because I’m not the most patient person at time. I want things to happen right at the moment and I can’t really picture what’s going to happen down the road. A big part of that is really my dad staying on me about keep working, stay in there and stay tough through things. It’s paid off now. That was probably the big lesson I’ve learned.”

On how he’ll remember Coach Cal …
“I’ll always remember him. I’ll always remember this place, the fans and everything. I feel like he definitely has helped me turn my life around in a sense. I feel like I wouldn’t focus on certain things I needed to focus on. At times he was forceful with stuff like the stuff he’s implemented, having curfew, keeping you around the gym, different stuff like that, keeping you in school, making sure you’re going to class and all that stuff. It’s kind of like a father figure away from home. Also, Mike Stone, our academic adviser, has kind of been that guy as far as getting my education. He’s always been on me about stuff. They definitely have helped me along the way, definitely helped me grow up.” 

On how rewarding it was that he didn’t transfer …
“Yeah, I never really thought about leaving this place. Obviously, I feel like people would ask me stuff like, ‘Oh, are you thinking about transferring?’ I was like, ‘No, I’m going to see it through here and continue what I’m doing, stay patient.’ Like I said, it has paid off. I feel like I’ve learned more playing against the players I’ve played against here. I’ve guarded everyone from Tyler Ulis to Willie Cauley-Stein. Everyone. I’ve learned how to play against different people like that. It’s just helped me out a lot more.”

On if there’s a point behind some of the stories Coach Cal tells his players …
“Oh yeah, I mean people don’t want to see you do good. I feel like we are the mountaintop of college basketball. We have a great legacy here, a great culture. People don’t like winning stuff like that. I don’t know, but there’s always a moral to it. You have to stay on top of your stuff because every game you play in is a Super Bowl for someone and they’re going to be coming at you next. You just gotta be ready.”

On if it’s hard to accept that people want them to lose …
“Yeah, it is tough, but that’s why you come here and play. I feel like kind of with how my career’s been through basketball, I’ve always been an underdog type person. People didn’t notice a lot about me here. That’s the way I kind of thought of myself until I came here. It was kind of an adjustment for me getting used to that and having to bring my A-game every time I walk down the court. It’s been good for me. I’ve learned a lot.”

On if he feels like all three seniors are going out with a bang …
“Yeah, without a doubt. I think this is probably some of the best basketball we’ve played in our whole lives. I think just collectively for our senior class I think we’ve tried to really focus in as much as we could with everything we’re doing. I think the game we played (versus) Florida everyone was on the same page. I think Dominique played almost 40 minutes. That was crazy. He did real well. Then I was locked in pretty defensively. I know I had some stupid turnovers, but regardless I was all there. I consciously knew I had to do this and this each play we did.”

On being a senior at a program identified with freshmen …
“I just look at it as I’m another player on the team. I don’t know. I don’t really think about that, honestly. My timeframe is different than everyone else’s. Some people are quicker than mine. Mine is what it is. I think with Devin Booker that one year he was even like, after the season ended, he didn’t even think he was going to be a one-and-done player. But he goes out, has a good year and is in the NBA now and is probably going to be the franchise player for the Suns. That’s just crazy stuff. You find out a lot about yourself being here.”

On his relationship with Hawkins …
“We kind of know each other’s boundaries, but I feel like we’re really close. We’ve roomed together for four years. I’d say we’re best friends on the team. I feel like that’s a dude who definitely has my back, for sure. Like I said, I’ve always said he’s a good kid, he’s a good dude, and I know he’s got my back.”

#11, Mychal Mulder, Senior, Guard

On what Senior day means to him …

“It means a lot. Just to be able to play in this position, it was always a dream of mine to play at this level. Knowing that this is our last home game, I’m going to let it all sink in and suit up one more time with these guys.”

On some of the moments he remembers during his time …
“There is a ton. Every win that I have gotten, all of the lifetime friends that I have made here. Last year we won the SEC, playing in March Madness, those things stand out to me, so just all of it really. If you think about it, there are so many moments that I could go back to for things that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

On getting to start this past weekend …
“It meant a lot. It was my first career start here. It meant a lot to me. I have been working really hard for it and knowing that I would get one on Senior Night, but being surprised with getting one before that was a great thing for me. It meant a lot to me.” 

On being more comfortable now than in the past …
“It’s a great feeling to be as confident as ever, as comfortable as ever. There is no better time than now to be comfortable now, so I’m glad I feel this way at this point in the season.”

On what Hawkins and Willis meant to him and the program …
“They meant a ton to me. Coming in they were real welcoming. Coming in at their age, they kind of taught me what was expected of me, coming in as a junior. Not only that though, they mean so much to this state. They take it so seriously around here, not just basketball but University of Kentucky basketball. These guys are kind of living out their own dream just playing here. Living out so many kids’ dreams in this state, so I know it’s been a great experience for them and I know it is something that they will never forget. So it means a ton to be able to be teammates with these two.”

On what playing here has meant for his father and family …
“It’s been great. I have gone further than probably he ever imagined for me, further than a lot of people imagined. It’s been a really wonderful experience to be able to play here, play at such a high level and really perform on this stage. It is something that I have always wanted and something that he has always wanted for me, so I’m sure he has been really enjoying it.”

On the pressure Hawkins and Willis have playing here …
“I don’t really see them under pressure. Not any more than anybody else but everybody in the locker room handles the pressure well. We’re used to this kind of situation, but it’s a really special opportunity for them to play for this school coming from this state. Knowing how much it means to them, it’s great.”

On when it will sink in that his career is almost over …
“Not really. I think it will sink in a little more after the game, but as of right now, Tuesday night is another chance to get a victory on our home court. One more of those under my belt, and that is what I am really focused on.”

On what he has learned in his time here …
“I have learned a lot about myself as a man and as a basketball player. I have learned what it takes to win, what it takes to win at a high level. Just what the opportunity really is. Growing up you are always wanting to play in a place like this and play for a coach like this and have great teammates like I have been fortunate enough to have. So there is a whole lot of learning that has taken place over the last two years, and I don’t think I will forget any of them.”

On what he learned as a man …
“Coming in here as a basketball player I knew who I was, but as a young adult I was still growing, still continuing to grow. But being able to play under coach Cal and in his system, it really teaches you a lot – not just about basketball but about life. He’s setting you up to succeed in more areas than just basketball. He’s setting you up to be able to work under pressure, to be able to follow instruction, to be able to know who you are, so there is just a ton of life lessons that I have learned.”

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