Miller Grove High’s Mfon Udofia was a member of one of the nation’s highest-ranked recruiting classes, ranked the sixth-best point guard nationally in 2009. And with his arrival, along with coveted center Derrick Favors and would-be superstar-in-waiting Glen Rice, among others, came visions of ACC Championships and the Final Four.
Fast forward to 2012, and after being elevated to starting point guard status, then benched for long stretches, Udofia looks to the Yellow Jackets Nov. 9 home opener with wide-eyed anticipation. The Daily World recently caught up with the 6’2″ senior just before the team took the floor at the inaugural “Jacket Jam” at Tech’s shiny new basketball arena, McCamish Pavilion. Losing seasons, roster upheaval, and no home court are distant memories for the man with the number “0” stitched to his Tech jersey.
ADW: To say last year was a bit of nightmare would be an understatement. New coach, no home court, and other prevailing circumstances. Your thoughts?
MU: Last year was a big disaster. We didn’t have a home arena. We had a brand new coach, and a whole new coaching staff. Learning a whole new system and all of that. Not to say we didn’t learn from the adversity, but this year we have our own home court, in a brand new facility. We are so excited. This is a place where we can show pride in defending our home court. This is my second year under coach (Brian) Gregory, and I know what he expects. I know how to show leadership, and how to preach to younger guys as well.
ADW: Just from seeing Coach Gregory in action, reading and hearing his comments, he comes off all business.
MU: Yes sir. He’s a hard-working coach, and he expects hard work out of us. He wants to win right away. So do we. He never promised that would happen overnight, but he said it would happen. And we want it to happen this year. I’m so glad to be a part of it.
ADW: As the team’s lone senior, what kind of responsibility does that bring?
MU: I set the tone in everything we do. At tip-off, I will set the tone. At practice, I set the tone. In the weight room, or in study hall – it doesn’t matter. I will be there this year to set an example, and to lead. It’s what I’ve been asked to do, and it’s what I’m comfortable doing. And next year, one of my teammates will take that from me, and continue to grow the program.
ADW: Compare your last couple of years at Tech and now. You had teammates then who are now in the NBA, and a coach who recruited you Tech let go.
MU: I loved Derrick and those guys. And Coach (Paul) Hewitt was a great coach. I learned so much from him. But when I look at it now, it’s two coaches that I’ve really learned a lot from, and am still learning. There’s techniques that Coach Hewitt taught me that I use right now. And Coach Gregory is all about us competing, and he’s taught me a lot of things. As the years have gone on, I’ve learned the game of basketball. This is going to be my best year.