Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
Justin Heller may not be a star on the University of Miami's basketball team. But his role is helping prepare his teammates is invaluable.
Walk on athletes are integral and highly underrated. A closer look at walk ons reveals that despite not receiving major playing time, they are often some of the most passionate players on a given team. Today we caught up with UM junior walk on Justin Heller. Justin gave us some insight and how he ended up at Miami, what the team needs to do to improve, and a whole lot more.
Here is the full Q&A:
SOTU: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you ended up at UM?
JH: I'm a local kid, I'm from Boca Raton, Florida. Both of my parents graduated from the University of Miami. I have pretty much always been a fan. Being a walk on, with or with out basketball, UM was definitely the number school I wanted to go to.
SOTU: Which players are the most difficult to match up with in practice?
JH: I would say, as a guard, Shane Larkin and Bishop Daniels. The two of them are just so extremely quick. It is difficult to keep up with them.
SOTU: This is a very difficult question, but we have to ask. What has the team been doing to overcome the slow start? Are there any major adjustments or changes we can expect?
JH: I think that Coach Larranaga has been around for a long time and has probably been in these situations before. We just need to listen to him, He has great experience. So not necessarily doing anything different, just remain the same and listening better. If we do those things, with our senior leadership, we will get back on the right track.
SOTU: For the fans who wonder what this team is like behind the scenes, can you tell us who is the funniest? The most serious? The leader of the team?
JH: The leader is Durand Scott. He's a senior now and has always been one of the best players on the team. With his passion and his competitive attitude, when you see how hard he works, you want to work just as hard. The funniest guys on the team are probably the freshman, Tonye Jekiri. He's always making people laugh, even the coaches. As far as the most serious, Steve Sorenson the new walk on. He hasn't yet opened up to the team, so that makes him the most serious.
SOTU: As a follow-up to your answer about Durand being the leader, can you talk a little bit about how his return will help the team?
JH: I think that Durand's return will impact the team dramatically. He's just an all around guy and a leader on the court. He has experience and he's one of the key players on the team. With him on the bench, we're just missing a lot.
SOTU: Any message for the fans?
JH: Although we have come out with a rocky start, I still believe this is going to be a great year. We need all the support we can get. When the team comes out to play and its quiet on its home court, it hampers the team. We need the support.
Thanks again to Justin Heller for letting us catch up with him. Let's hope 'Canes fans follow his advice and pack the BUC this year.