Whenever we write stories on any athlete, there always a ton of leftovers. I spent more than 20 minutes talking with Malcolm Grant last week and although I used a few of his quotes in his feature story Saturday, there was only so much room.
Here is the first part of a two part interview with the 6-1, 185-pound point guard, who plans on taking over the leadership role for the Canes with Jack McClinton gone.
Q: What ultimately happened at Villanova? Why did you leave?
MG: "Without getting too much into it, coach [Jay Wright] made a decision and his decision was not to play me anymore. Not sure what it was. I just stopped playing. I was having some good games. He told me 'I need you to sacrifice, if you can't you have to do what's best for you.' But everything happens for a reason. I'm in a position like this. I sat out. I got a chance to learn the game even more. I got better, mentally, physically and I'm just so happy I got good guys around me -- Dews, Dwayne Collins, the young guys. I just feel like its going to be special."
Q: Why did you choose Miami?
MG: "They recruited me before I went to Villanova. It was UM, St. John's or Villanova. After I opened things back up a few other big schools came after me. I said you know what, if I pick them I'm probably going to go through the same thing. If another guard with a big name comes in, I might have to sit out. I felt like Miami was a great opportunity. The weather is great, beautiful women and the team is pretty good. I feel like the program has come a long way and I want to be a part of it."
Q: What was it like sitting out last year?
MG: "Frustrating. I've been playing basketball my whole life and to have the game taken from me was very frustrating. And having the season we had knowing I could have helped the team was very frustrating."
Q: How much did this team need you last year?
MG: "A team always needs a leader, especially a point guard. A point guard is an extension of the coach. I feel like whatever coach wants, me being a point guard on the floor, I have to get his message through to the players."
Q: Coach has always talked about your leadership. How much do you feel you need to be a leader for this team?
MG: "I think I have to be a leader at all times, whether its on the court or off the court. I think last year, we were lacking that a little bit. Sitting out, I had a different view and I knew this team needed a leader. So, I already had a plan that in order for us to be good, I had to be a leader."
Q: How different can this team be with a point guard, distributor?
MG: "I think we could be beyond special. I'm not even talking. Me and Dews talk about it all the time. Jack was just a pure scorer. You give him the ball and he's going to put the ball in the hoop. I think what I bring to the table is I like to get guys involved, I like to play in transition and we're concentrating on being a better defensive team. In order to run, you got to get stops. We've been working on that the whole summer. I feel like I can bring that, being a leader and getting guys involved. I can put the ball in the hole too."
Q: New York has produced so many special guards over the years. Who did you look up to and pattern your game after?
MG: "Growing up in New York was great. In my era, I was under Sebastian [Telfair]. He was the best in New York at the time. Every where you go it's always competitive. There's a park, there's a game. You learn so much about toughness. It makes you want to be the best player you can be."
Q: What was it like to sit out last season? How did you make yourself better with all that time off?
MG: "Mentally and physically. Mentally it is so tough because you are practicing with the scout team. Sometimes guys aren't on the same level. You want to win, but you are going up against the starting five in the conference. I got stronger, did extra sets. I'm healthy and I'm just so excited to play."
Q: Tell me why and when you got hooked on hoops?
MG: "My older brothers. I used to go watch them play. I started at age 4. I would get on their nerves, dribbling up and down all day. My father he used to record Lavar's games. That's how I learned to play, watching his tapes and dribbling up and down the house. And of course, the great Michael Jordan. My brothers would tell me sit down man, people live under us. My dad told them to leave me alone. It all worked out."
Q: But where did you get the basketball bug from?
MG: "My father William Duncan played on the streets in New York. He wasn't an And One guy. But everybody in the neighborhood tells me he could jump. Unfortunately, I didn't get any hops from him."
"And I had my brothers, two who played hoops. Both of them were good. The middle brother [LeVar] was way shorter than me. He realized at a certain age he just couldn't take it any further. He got his degree and his masters. My older brother played in a college upstate. He's got a good job now."
Q: Tell me more about your dad. You get your loud nature from him?
MG: "My father man, we're going to have to get him some different seats. He's calmed down a lot. But I haven't played in a while. I'm not sure what he's going to do. I just know he's known all over New York for getting into it with the refs."