Q&A with Georgia State’s Isaiah Dennis

Isaiah Dennis dunks over Curtis Washington, just like MIke Holmes would sometimes do during Georgia State's practices. (Georgia State)

Isaiah Dennis dunks over Curtis Washington. (Georgia State)

Isaiah Dennis was abusing his Georgia State’s teammates in Tuesday’s practice.

He refused to let Isaiah Williams dribble around him as he tried to come up court.But how Dennis did it illustrated the strength and quickness of a running back, which was kind of what Dennis looks like.

So that he wouldn’t get called for a foul, Dennis kept his hands out and mostly behind him and was still able to keep Williams, who is very quick, in front of him.

On another play, Dennis exploded through a ball screen for a steal and dunk in which it appeared he leapt so high that he put his elbow through the rim.

That energy and focus are why Ron Hunter is excited about the prospect of pairing Dennis and Kevin Ware in presses and the various zone defenses he likes to run.

had to say during the team’s media day on Tuesday:

Q: What happened toward the end of the year when you started to get more playing time?

A: Ryan Harrow’s injury, I had to grow up and the coaches encouraged me. I had a big confidence boost at the end of the season.

Q: You are competing for a starting point guard spot, how do you feel going into this season?

A: I feel good, the competition is really good. Competing with Isaiah Williams, he’s a great player and we both make each other better because we compete hard against each other. We are good friends off the court too, so that makes it even better.

Q: Austin (Donaldson) is in the mix too. What kind of player is he?

A: He’s a great player too. He’s a freshman but he knows how to play basketball and make the right plays.

Q: Jeff Thomas didn’t get to play last year, but everyone said he’s as good a shooter as R.J. Do you agree with that?

A: I don’t know if he’s good as R.J. but he’s a great shooter. He’s going to be really big for us. He can knock down open 3s. He can hit tough ones, too.

He’s going to be really good for us.

Q: What has been the easiest part of the transition into your third year here, but second year playing?

A: Just building connections with my coaches. That’s what helped build my confidence.

Q: How confident are you right now?

A: I’m pretty confident.

Q: What did you work on most this summer?

A: My free throws and my mental toughness.

Q: How’s your jump shot?

A: It’s getting better.

Q: You have that funky release.

A: (Laughs) I have the funky release, yeah. I won’t be shooting much, I’ll be playing to my strengths. It’s getting better.

Q: Take me back to those final two minutes in the NCAA tournament win against Baylor and what you remember.

A: Those last two minutes, I can’t lie, for a minute I thought it was over. R.J., the elite player he is, he kept us in the game and gave us all confidence we could win. We all kept playing hard. He hit that amazing shot.

Q: You made a big play toward the end and I didn’t get to write about it much because of everything else that happened, but go through that play.

A: We were pressing. They came down and thought they had the easy layup. T.J. (Shipes) got the block. They grabbed the ball. R.J. was encouraging us to keep playing hard. Shipes got the block, the guy got it and I just came behind him and took off with the ball. He fouled me and I got to the free-throw line.

Q: How nervous were you at the free-throw line?

A: I was nervous. I was surprised I hit the first one. I was nervous.

Q: Could you even feel your hands?

A: I couldn’t feel my hands, but I hit the first one, so that was good. It put us in position so R.J. could win the game.

Q: What was going through your head?

A: Make this free throw, at least make one of them.

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