RALEIGH, NC — Prior to leaving for the Bahamas, NC State guard Jarkel Joiner met with the media to discuss his time thus far with the program, what he’s looking forward to during the foreign trip, prioritizing team success over individual success and much more.
Watch the full interview and read the complete transcript below.
What are you hoping to accomplish during the Bahamas trip?
Mostly the team bonding. We’re only gonna play two games to learn how we play with each other. Mostly just being close off the court, learning about each other. Being around each other all the time you get to learn new things about the new guys you’re playing with, especially with this being a new team. That’s why we’re taking a foreign trip, because it’s so new. Not even just the players but the coaches too. That’s gonna be good for us.
How have you gelled with the team thus far?
Oh it’s been going great, especially with the coaches. I’ve been knowing Levi [Watkins] for going on four years now. Then coach Rich [Kareem Richardson] I’ve got history with. I played against coach Rich when I was at Cal State. It’s been easy gelling with the team, they’re outgoing and fun.
We love hanging around each other, we hang out with each other off the court playing video games together. It’s been fun.
What stood out about NC State when you transferred?
They’re hard working. They’ve got a championship DNA. Coach Levi won a lot of games here going to the NCAA Tournament twice. He never let me not hear that every day, he always motivated me. Coach Rich is always talking about how he beat me more than I beat him. Getting to know coach Joel [Justus]coach Keatts, it’s been fun just getting to know all these guys.
What has it been like sharing a backcourt with Terquavion Smith?
It’s amazing, man. He’s a very talented player, he’s gonna be a lottery pick next year. If we do what we gotta do, then we’re gonna win a lot of games. Just get him in that position, it should be fun.
What are your thoughts on the NC State campus and Raleigh?
It’s been cool. I don’t do much anyways, so I’m just waiting for school to start. I’ve heard the football games are a good atmosphere, so I’m ready to see that. I’m just ready for school to start to see how it really gets down here.
Can this team sneak up on people this year?
Most definitely. Like coach [Kevin Keatts] said, we just work. We don’t like to talk about it much. We’re just gonna put our foot down and work every single day.
What is your role with this year’s team?
Being a leader as the point guard, a glue guy and a scorer. That’s what they told me they brought me in for. Mostly leadership because they know I can score, they know what I do. Holding the team accountable, gelling the team together. Just being that guy that calms everyone down in the storm when we’re going through adversity. Being someone they can look to, not even just to get a bucket, but to control the team. I feel like that’s what coach Keatts and the staff expressed to me a lot.
What is your perception of the ACC?
It’s the best conference in college basketball. I don’t know what else to say about that. You go against pros every night. It’s really competitive basketball.
What are you looking forward to most in the Bahamas?
Snorkeling. I’m ready to do that, I’ve never done that before. Have y’all been snorkeling?
See, that’s what I’m saying. I went to the Bahamas my freshman year at Cal State. I didn’t go snorkeling but I went jet skiing and stuff and that was fun. But I want to go snorkeling, that looks fun.
You’ve had individual success in your career, but how important is the team’s success this season?
It’s very important. I’ve never been to the NCAA Tournament. I’ve been to the NIT, but there’s nothing like the tournament. Like I said, coach Levi is always in my ear about how fun it is and how it’s like no other experience. The best part about basketball is playing in March, and I want to play in March in the NCAA Tournament.
What is your relationship like with Levi Watkins?
That’s my guy, we’re really close. He’s always gonna push me. The first day I met him, I was at Ole Miss for my sit-out year and I guess his son said he was in the basketball camp at one of the facilities on campus. And he walked up to me and said, ‘Can you play basketball, man?’ I said, ‘Why’d y’all bring me here if I can’t play basketball?’
It just went on from there, we’re always talking junk to each other. He always knows what’s best for me. He’s probably one of the hardest coaches on me and expects a lot out of me. I love him to death.
How has the coaching staff’s cohesion helped the team?
It helps a lot. They don’t just focus on one position, everybody talks to everybody. That’s a big thing, not just coaching positions. Because they see everything, they’ve been through it and have a lot of experience. They know what the guards are doing, what the forwards are doing. They can tell us what we’re doing wrong and need to fix.