Selected SEC Men's Basketball Players were posed a series of questions for a story to run in the game program of the 2020 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament. The tournament was ultimately cancelled due to concerns related to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Their responses are presented here in the first of a two-part series. The second part will appear on SECsports.com on Thursday.
What does "It Just Means More" mean to you?
Jaylen Forbes, Alabama: "I believe the SEC is the toughest conference. It's crazy because when I was in middle school, I had a coach tell me that I was going to end up playing in the SEC. At that point, I really didn't know what that meant or how big of a deal it was, but once I got to high school, I understood it more. Now that I'm here I realize that it's the hardest conference and it means more to people in the SEC."
Adrio Bailey, Arkansas: "The SEC is the best conference hands down and that, whatever any other conference is doing, the SEC is just going to do it better."
Kerry Blackshear Jr., Florida: "Understanding that the team winning goes beyond us as players. It affects the school, my family, so I think all those things are a factor when I'm playing games."
Jordan Harris, Georgia: "It just literally means what it says - It just means more. The SEC is a very competitive conference. It's a really good academic conference. People take pride in UGA. People take pride in their schools throughout this conference. I think that's what's most important to me and to the SEC when I think about this conference."
Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky: "The quote, 'It Just Means More' really is just a symbol of individual toughness, together toughness, everybody is just coming together for one goal and just trying to reach a goal of winning a championship and working together. Each and every day is a grind, but 'It Just Means More' means that you're willing to work harder than the other team to get a win."
Marshall Graves, LSU: "It means that every action or relationship you build will be that much more meaningful in the SEC or the South. Everything you do on and off the court is of great importance."
Skylar Mays, LSU: "When you represent the SEC, you become part of a large family. It's bigger than sports. You meet great people who want to help you on many things outside of what you do on the court."
Breein Tyree, Ole Miss: "It means just how much we put into everything in this league. How much we care about playing in the SEC and representing the best conference. It means to go that extra mile for yourself and everybody around you."
Mitchell Storm, Mississippi State: "For me, 'It Just Means More' means that my playing days are going to be over when college is done. To see all the things that the SEC has done for people like me and honestly for the rest of my teammates as well to put us in a good position in the future. Whether that's with jobs, continuing our playing careers, whatever that future looks like, the SEC does a really good job of putting us in good positions and giving us great opportunities to do whatever we want to accomplish in the future."
John Fulkerson, Tennessee: "I think it means a lot of things, but when I think about it, I think it means that we're more than student-athletes or basketball players. I think it means more to be a basketball player and to represent the University of Tennessee. I think it means more for us individually. I think it is part of a bigger picture. It's more than just ourselves, the SEC or even the University of Tennessee. It means more than a simple basketball game, I think it goes way beyond that."
Josh Nebo, Texas A&M: "'It Just Means More' means that the SEC is just different. We treasure everything that we do, and they take care of their student-athletes. The conference is in the top of the line in everything from basketball to football to soccer.
Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt: "It's a phrase I can use in everyday life - to always work harder than the next guy. It means more to me being successful than the next guy. You have to work harder."
What has being a student-athlete taught you?
Adrio Bailey, Arkansas: "Being a Student Athlete taught me that there's more to life than basketball and that there is life after basketball. It also taught me to be thankful for all the things that I do have and not to take anything for granted."
Andrew Nembhard, Florida: "It has taught me time management. Just managing both school and athletics and trying to excel at the highest level in both."
Jordan Harris, Georgia: "Being a student-athlete has taught me about responsibility and leadership. Being a student-athlete taught me the importance of being a man, the importance of school, the importance of my athletic career. It just helped me understand my priorities and why they are my priorities."
Donnell Gresham Jr., Georgia: "Being a student-athlete has taught me that you really have to be able to manage your time. You have to be really good at managing your time. You can't let a day go by where you're not getting better at something, whether that's in the classroom or on the court."
Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky: "Being a student-athlete has taught me a lot. Not only has as an athlete, but as a young man - you've got to take your academics and basketball serious, but you also have to take being a good person off the court serious as well and treat everybody with respect."
Mitchell Smith, Missouri: "It's meant a lot. It definitely changed my life, me and my family's life. The people I got to meet and the places I got to go just from being at Mizzou, it's definitely life changing and experiences I'll never forget and wouldn't want to be with anyone else to experience."
Reed Nikko, Missouri: "It's been absolutely crazy. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's been an amazing experience. It's real weird to actually be thinking that it's been four years now. It hasn't set in. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Jair Bolden, South Carolina: "It has taught me how to fight through adversity and how to always put others before myself."
John Fulkerson, Tennessee: "It's honestly taught me a lot of things. I've learned a lot about my work ethic, time management and definitely networking. You get to meet a lot of people and you never know when you're going to meet the right person, or when you can even meet your significant other. We have a lot going on and this life has taught me how to effectively set a plan for myself every day."
What lessons have you learned from time spent on SEC Leadership Council and how do you see it influencing you after college?
Adrio Bailey, Arkansas: "The time I spent on the leadership council will always memorable for me. I was able to meet with the commissioner of the SEC and he knows who you are without you introducing yourself. That says a lot about the SEC. Also, student-athletes are valued by the SEC and the league is concerned that they become better athletes and better people in the community."
Breein Tyree, Ole Miss: "It taught me about the rules that go into every year. We had a lot to do with those, so that's a cool experience to be a part of that. I got to meet a lot of the SEC legislative staff as well. To be able to put it on my resume, being the chairman and having the respect of all my peers, that was big time for me."
What does it mean to you to have the SEC Graduate patch on your uniform?
Anfernee McLemore, Auburn: "It is an incredible feeling to wear the SEC Graduate patch on my jersey because it is a representation of my commitment to the classroom as well as the basketball court."
Jalen Johnson, Tennessee: "Wearing the "SEC Graduate" patch means a lot to me, just because I'm able to say that not only did I complete my degree while playing sports, but I was also able to do it in only three years. That makes it that much more satisfying, because I know how important getting an education is to me and my family, so I know it makes them proud to see that patch on my jersey every game."
Wendell Mitchell, Texas A&M: "It's amazing, because you know that everyone wants to graduate, everybody wants to get their education. Just knowing that I've done something that a lot of people from my hometown haven't had a chance to do, it means a lot."
Josh Nebo, Texas A&M: "It means a lot to have a graduate patch, because everybody's goal when they go to college is to graduate. For me to finally achieve that, it means a lot to me, so it's kind of like a reminder of my accomplishment of graduating every time I play."