Jerome Meyinsse is a junior forward/center on the 2008-09 men’s basketball team. The 6-9 Meyinsse played in 26 games last season, scoring 50 points and grabbing 49 rebounds. He is shooting 61.4 percent (27-44) from the field through his first two seasons in the Virginia program. A fine student, Meyinsse was a member of the 2008 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Team and was named to the ACC Honor Roll for his academic work and athletic participation.
Virginia hosts Shepherd University (W.Va.) in an exhibition game Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena. The game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and tickets are $10 each.
Question: Does preseason practice get any easier as you move through your collegiate career?
Meyinsse: Preseason practice is always tough, but I would say it gets easier because you know what to expect. I think you’re more mentally prepared for what you have to do and that’s half the battle right there, knowing what you have to do and knowing how to do it well. That definitely helps you out.
Question: Are you and your teammates looking forward to the exhibition game against Shepherd University on Sunday (Nov. 9)?
Meyinsse: Everybody is looking forward to going against different competition and to have people watch you in action for the first time. Everyone is excited about that opportunity.
Question: Coach Leitao mentioned before the start of preseason practice that you might be working some at power forward (the four position) as well as center (the five position) during the preseason. Has that been the case?
Meyinsse: Yes it has. I’ve played the four position during my first and second years in practice. Now it’s just getting accustomed to being in different spots on the floor instead of always under the rim. It’s been a challenge, but I’m getting used to it.
Question: What are the major differences between the two positions?
Meyinsse: With the four position you’re on the perimeter a lot more than you are in the five position. With the five you are only on the perimeter if you’re setting a ball screen. As a four you may have to guard someone on the perimeter, so both offensively and defensively you’re out on the perimeter a little bit more.
Question: Do you have a favorite between the two positions?
Meyinsse: I just want to play, but I’m more accustomed to playing the five. That’s a more natural position for me right now, but I’m getting used to the four and hopefully I can become more comfortable at it and get better at it.
Question: How do you feel you’ve improved in your first two years in the Virginia program?
Meyinsse: I’ve gotten stronger, faster and I’m in better shape, but probably the biggest improvement is that I’ve gotten more confident. By becoming more confident, I make more plays on the floor. I’m not afraid to make mistakes and I can be more aggressive because I have the confidence that I know what I’m doing. I can help my team and play better myself.
Question: It sounds like that’s a mental component. Would you agree that the mental aspect of the game is very important?
Meyinsse: I think it’s the most important thing in my mind because at this level everybody’s fast and everybody’s strong. It’s those who can play the game better mentally that have more success at this level.
Question: How is the team coming along at this point in the preseason?
Meyinsse: We’re coming along very well. I think the trip to Canada helped us a lot to be able to come together early. We’re a young team and we lost a lot of guys with experience. Canada helped us come together early, play a little bit and get through the defense and offense really early. Once we started the preseason we were a little ahead. Now after a couple of weeks the improvement is really showing, we’re coming together and we’re playing well.”
Question: As one of the more experienced big men on the team this season, do you find yourself helping the younger players?
Meyinsse: Yes, I’m always talking to Assane and John when I see them making mistakes. Those are the same mistakes I made when I first got here and I’m just trying to help them out. If I can help them get better that’s going to help our team get better.
Question: How did you spend your summer?
Meyinsse: I spent my summer in Charlottesville working on summer classes and playing basketball.
Question: What classes?
Meyinsse: Mathematical probability and mathematical statistics.
Question: You’ve been heard singing before and after practice recently. Has your voice been critiqued by your teammates?
Meyinsse: They’re just fascinated I know all of the songs that come on Pandora. It’s mostly R&B songs and that’s my favorite type of music. As far as my voice, I’ve heard that I have the worst singing voice they’ve ever heard and others have commented negatively on my singing, but I keep singing.
Question: Music was an important part of your life when you played trumpet with different bands in high school. Is that still the case?
Meyinsse: I’ve taken a few music classes since I’ve been here. I like music and I like to take music theory. I’m always walking around with my headphones listening to music. I’ve always loved music and I always will, but I haven’t played an instrument since I’ve been at Virginia.
Question: Academics and basketball take up a lot of your time, but have you been able to get involved in other areas of University life?
Meyinsse: Yes, I’m the vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, I’m a Student-Athlete Mentor and I participate in the ACE Program where I tutor at elementary schools in the area. I’m also involved with NSCS, the National Society for Collegiate Scholars.
Question: How do you find the time to be involved in these various activities?
Meyinsse: As soon as I leave practice and get treatment in the training room, I finish my homework and make time for the other activities I’m involved in.
Question: What’s your major?
Meyinsse: Economics and hopefully math if some circumstances can be worked out so I can double major.
Question: Why economics and math?
Meyinsse: I’ve always been a math guy. When I arrived here my mom encouraged me to take a couple of economics courses. She’s an economics professor at Southern University. I enjoyed those courses and it turned into my major. My dad is a math professor.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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