With Pierre Jackson's graduation, Baylor will be looking for their next field general. Sophomore LJ Rose; Senior Gary Franklin and JC All-American Kenny Chery are all candidates to take over the reins. In watching film on Chery, he looks like he would have the advantage. He is a quick guard who has a knack for scoring and a great feel for the game.
Bearstruth caught up with him for an interview after he signed his LOI.
Bearstruth: Describe the emotions of signing with Baylor today and also being recognized as a JUCO All-American?
Chery: very emotional, it was a big day for me and my family. I can't describe the blessing of being part of such a family next year. Being named JUCO All American was a big honor for me. I worked so hard and seeing this accomplished was big for me and motivates me even more to work harder for the next step.
Bearstruth: Pierre Jackson played some terrific basketball the last 7 games- 22 points; 10 assists and only 2 turnovers. The latest ESPN mock draft is taking notice having Jackson projected as a late 1st round pick. When you watched him in person leading the Bears to a 81-58 blow-out victory of Kansas and you watched him during the NIT run to the championship, what thoughts went through your mind knowing that you will have many of the same pieces to work with- Jefferson; Gathers; Heslip, etc?
Chery: Wow... having the chance to see Pierre in person gave me the opportunity to see the type of competition I will be going against and who I will be working with as teammates. Pierre Jackson is one of the best point guards in the country. Nobody can deny that, but having this opportunity to play with players like Jefferson, Heslip, and Gathers and the rest of my future teammates is just great because we will have a special team and I will do anything in my power to fit in with those guys and bring my hard working mentality into what those guys have already built.
Bearstruth: Obviously nothing will be conceded and you will have to work very hard to earn playing time and a starting role. But in all my dealings with you and in talking to your coaches, the thing that keeps coming up is maturity and character. A big weakness for Baylor this year was leadership. It was lacking at times. Two years ago when Baylor lost to national champion Kentucky in the Elite 8 game, that team had a terrific leader in Quincy Acy. A few years back, Baylor's Elite 8 team had great leaders in Tweety Carter, Josh Lomers and Ekpe Udoh. Are the Baylor coaches talking to you about coming in and providing that quality? What is your gameplan to establish yourself as a leader for this team over the summer?
Chery: Yes, coaches love the way I handle myself. They love the way I talk, my attitude,etc...They are expecting me to be me and keep doing what I am doing because I'm all about the team. The gameplan is to come in; get to know the guys even better, build great relationships with my teammates on and off the basketball court because now my teammates will be considered to me as my brothers and this is how a brotherhood starts, by building close relationships with each other.
Bearstruth: When do you plan on being in Waco this summer? What are you working on currently to get yourself ready for Baylor and the season ahead? What parts of your game are you focusing on to be ready?
Chery: I plan on being in Waco at the beginning of June. I am working on getting my body stronger knowing that I will be playing in the most physical conference- the BIG 12. I am working on my drive to the basket and finishing through contact, getting a lot of repetitions, a lot of shots up just trying to be consistent and keep working everyday because "satisfaction is not a word in my book" in order for us to be successful we can never be satisfied.
Bearstruth: Obviously a successful season for you in terms of stats but I'm sure you were disappointed that you didn't make a deep run in the JUCO playoffs. You all had won 10 of 12 games but then lost 3 straight to close the year. Any comments on how the year ended and the lessons learned in the process?
Chery: I had a good year individually, a lot of ups and downs, injuries came along which slowed me down a couple of games but other than that I had great teammates. I enjoyed playing at State Fair and I know for a fact I will stay in contact with my teammates there. We worked hard everyday and competed at a high level- it was awesome to have some success...
But seeing our season end the way it did hurt me a lot because I hate losing and I worked so hard to be a leader to my teammates. I wanted to go far with them because I wanted to experience what it feels like to win a championship. Our school had not been to the Nationals before. I was upset because I wanted nothing more than to be able to showcase my teammates talents in front of the large amount of coaches that were in attendance at Hutch.
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