The Canes wrap up their regular season this week with a pair of home games against Georgia Tech (3/6) and Clemson (3/9). With five seniors on the roster, HurricaneSports.com is honoring a different one each day this week leading up to Senior Day on Saturday against Clemson. Today, we chat with senior big man Julian Gamble.
6.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.9 bpg
What is your favorite memory or moment as a Hurricane?
"It has to be this season. This season has just been incredible. It is something I have always dreamed of having and spending this time with the guys and the coaches, and especially having as many seniors as we have, it has really been a good feeling for us. All the adversity we had to overcome, me in my six years, some guys in their fifth and even guys in their fourth, we have had to endure a lot over these years. This season, as a whole, and particularly that Duke win at home, was great feeling."
Considering all the adversity you have overcome, what do you think of how your career has turned out?
"It has been incredible and it has been a blessing. Coming back for this year, it was a second chance to finish my career off the right way. I have said this a number of times before, I don't feel like the things I have done up until now have shown the kind of player that I am. I know I was much better than that, so to have an opportunity to come back to prove that and help as much as I have this season, to help us have this amount of success has been a tremendous feeling."
What do you think of your legacy at Miami?
"It has been a good one. I think I can serve as an inspiration to people who go through things and feel like the cards are stacked against them. I am proof that you can come out on top and that just comes from being relentless and persevering through everything that happens to you. Statistically, it may not be one the greatest careers in Miami history. But I hope intangibly, people can look back and say that I have done something at this university that has not been done before."
In your six years, you filled a variety of roles. What does it mean to finally play a key role in what has been your best season at The U?
"I just want to help my team win anyway possible. Throughout my career here, I have played every role there is to play on a team. Being able to contribute to as many wins we have had this year and in the past has been a blessing. I have learned a lot in my time here and I had a lot of good teammates and brotherhoods that will last forever."
What do you think of the future for Miami Basketball?
"Going forward, I see them just continuing to build a legacy and becoming more prestigious. With the leadership of Coach L and the types of recruits I know he will continue to get, I think the success will continue to build. Everyone's history has to start somewhere and I think this is where Miami's history can start. I know we have had some good history in the past, but I hope they will continue to make history and live up to a standard in the future so that everybody around the country will know what Miami basketball is."
What has it been like to be a part of the group that got this team going under Coach L?
"It is really special. It is a testament to our hard work and everything we have done in the offseason, in the summer and up until now. With the types of games that we have played, we just show people that we are a relentless team and that we have won every type of game there is to win. We have played a lot of close battles either at home or the road. I think going forward that can be an example we set that Miami plays a tough brand of basketball on a nightly basis."
What do you hope to do in your future?
"Definitely professional basketball, whether it is in the NBA or overseas. After that, maybe try to get into some type of coaching because I love the game. I love to teach the game and I feel I am very intellectual in that aspect so definitely being around the game of basketball for much longer."
Prior to this season, was playing professionally something that you considered a realistic goal or did this year give you confidence that it could actually happen?
"I would say it was realistic. I think now I have a much better shot than I had before, but it was always something realistic. You will always have an opportunity to play somewhere and I am an opportunity-based guy. I believe that if you get the opportunity, you have to make the most of it. A perfect example of that is this entire season. With that being said, it is more of a realistic goal now than before."
Obviously the team is playing very well, but how much of an impact has Coach L had on you and your teammates?
"He has had a tremendous impact. Not only on the basketball program, but this entire university. He also has made a big impact on us as individuals. He brought us together and he came in with a passion for teaching and wanting us to improve every single day. I think that is something that helps us out so much. Personally, I learned so much from him. He has taught me many life lessons that I will keep from now on."
What do you think of the emergence of the basketball program? Does this feel more like a basketball school now that it did when you got here?
"I would not say it has gone that far. We have done some unprecedented things this season, but you cannot argue with the history we have here from a football and baseball perspective. I think we want to become a more all-around school; I don't think it is a situation where we are competing with other sports for notoriety because, at the end of the day, we are all a family, we are the Miami family, so we want the football team to succeed, the baseball team to succeed and we all come out and support each other. I have personal relationships with players on both teams, so I think it is a situation where we are all pulling for each other."
What is your relationship like with the coaches and the rest of the team?
"I feel like I am a big brother to a lot of these guys. I look out for a lot of these guys on our team. If anybody needs anything, I am one of the first people they call and I am pretty much the guy that delivers. They come to me for advice because they know I have been around for a while and have had a lot of experiences. As far as the coaches, they are all father figures to me. All of their knowledge and the different things they say to me has been helpful. They seem like they are all on the same page and that is something I can learn from them going forward. Whether it is in my playing or coaching career, I know that being on the same page is very important. The love I have for them and my teammates is indescribable and it has been a great experience."
How does this group compare to some of the other teams you played on in the past?
"We just like to have fun. Even off the court, we spend a lot of time with each other. We are like a family. We are like brothers and we clash sometimes, but at the same time, we spend so much time together playing video games, going to the movies, or just in the locker room laughing and having a good time. Just last week, we were in the locker room playing dodge ball with everybody. We love to do spur of the moment things and we just love to have fun. Another good thing about our team is that in the midst of all this success, we still have the time to stay grounded and just be kids at the end of the day."
What is the highlight of your career?
"Personally, I think one of my highlights was in Hawai'i after Reggie went down and guys being uncertain and not really knowing what would happen. That was a time I knew I was going to step up. I knew I had to go out there and play my absolute best basketball at a time my team needed it the most. To really emerge as not only a leader on and off the court but production-wise, being a guy you can count on every single night, that meant a lot to me. I think that moment was huge for me and my team. It is something that we have built on."
What has it been like to help take this program all the way to No. 2 in the rankings?
"We have had some ups and downs since I have been here. We have been to the NCAA tournament, but that was all the way back in my freshman year. We have been ranked, but never anywhere as high as the Top 15. Coming all the way to No. 2 is a surreal feeling. It is kind of hard to describe, but at the same time once you are No. 2, you want to know what No. 1 feels like. At this point in the season, even though we have lost a couple of games, it is still a realistic goal for us and winning a national championship has become a more realistic goal than it has ever been."
What's your favorite Coach L story?
"We just spoke yesterday before film and he was showing us a picture of him shooting while he was at Providence. He was telling us stories about everyone's uniform and how they all wore Chuck Taylors and they had a metal belt buckle on their shorts. In the picture, they looked like compression shorts. Definitely nothing like you would see anyone get caught in today. Coach L has millions of good stories and millions of connections that really help us out, so it is really enjoyable being around him. He is like a father figure to us all."
What do you think of the opportunities you've had at Miami?
"They have kind of come and gone. In my past years, I have had some opportunities and then some of those opportunities get taken for whatever reason. Having to go from one role to a different role, whether it be starting or coming off the bench, was challenging at times. But any opportunity that I did get, I tried to take full advantage of it. I never took anything for granted and always go in everyday with the mindset that I want to improve and do anything for my team to win."
Basketball has allowed you to travel the world. You have been all over the United States and even to Africa. Could you ever have imagined the game taking you to so many places?
"It's amazing. I'm a kid from Durham and nobody from where I am from gets the opportunity to experience things that great. The truth is very few people make it out of that situation. To have basketball take me around the world has been a blessing. I've had the opportunity to play at the highest level and to do all these things that I never could have imagined. These are life experiences that are bigger than basketball. One day I won't be able to play basketball anymore, but that is not going to stop the game from giving to me. I hope to give back to basketball half as much as it has given to me. It is something that has been a blessing for me and something that will stay with me for the rest of my life."
As a Durham, N.C., native, was it extra special to beat Duke so many times while you were here?
Yes, it has been special. Growing up, I wanted to play in the ACC. I grew up a North Carolina fan, so I ultimately wanted to play for Carolina. Even coming here as someone who grew up a Carolina fan, having an opportunity to play and beat Duke is even sweeter because nobody from Carolina likes Duke. Beating schools like Duke, Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest feels good. When I go back home, people are going to know I played for Miami and we had an opportunity to play and beat them. They are all great teams. They are all prestigious programs and it is a great opportunity to play against them."
What was your recruitment like and how did you decide to attend Miami?
"It was actually pretty easy. The process happened really fast. I actually did not take an official visit before I committed to come here. It was really the atmosphere and the team that drew me here and how it was a brotherhood. I am a very family-oriented person, so having a family-type of environment was very important to me. Also, this is one of the most beautiful places in the country. This is also one of the top academic schools in the country and that is something that was important to me, as well. Basketball aside, all of those things made it easy for me to come here. If you think about it, the majority of our time is spent off the court. I had to enjoy the environment, the educational experience and my teammates more than I enjoyed actually being on the court playing basketball. That is something I was looking for in my experience and I found it here.
How have you developed under this coaching staff?
"I have developed a lot. Coach L has talked to us a lot about keeping things simple and trying to become very good at a couple of things rather than trying to become so hugely versatile. He wants to take a lot of decision out of your game so you know exactly what you are going to do out on the court. That makes it easier for you as a player because you have so many things running through your mind. You are always thinking about what move do you want to do. Even in the off-season when you are working on stuff, there is a plethora of moves you can work on, but if you don't master any one, you will just be an average player. But if you master one or two things, you become a guy that knows 'this is my go to move and this is something you cannot stop no matter what you do.' I think he has really helped me out from a mental perspective, too. Even sitting out last year. I was kind of being a coach with them and seeing things from his perspective and that has really helped me out."
How hard was it to sit out last season?
"It was extremely difficult. We went through a lot of adversity last year with guys being suspended or hurt. Not being able to go out there and help my teammates who I want to see succeed at the highest level was difficult. But at the same time, I think it made me better as a player. I think it made me look at the game from a different perspective. It also taught me not to take things for granted, especially your health. Basketball can be taken away from you at any time and I don't think that people realize that until they have been through a catastrophic injury. Once you go through the pain, you know it is not something you want to go through again."
Beyond basketball, what do you think of your time at Miami?
"My time here has been excellent. Like I said, I love the environment, I love my teammates and I just love the educational experience I have had. I have an opportunity to get a master's degree in May and that is something I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I could do. Even being here for four years and earning a bachelor's degree, that is expected, but you still cannot take that for granted because some people don't have one. In this day and age with the way education is progressing, a bachelor's degree is becoming more and more like a high school degree because more and more people have it. So having the opportunity be to here for a sixth year and get the opportunity to get my master's degree and kind of separate myself from the crowd has really meant a lot to me. I think having an opportunity to get my master's degree and ultimately going to get it is my biggest accomplishment in life, basketball included."
What was it like to see the students camp out and line up before the Duke game?
"I think that is what the college experience is about. I think is a testament to our hard work and shows that that they have our backs, that they are standing with us and we have their full support. It is something that feels really good. We love the support our fans, our students, our university have shown us and we definitely take a lot of pride in that."
Do you think Miami basketball will ever win a National Championship?
"Definitely. I think we have a great shot this year and outside of this year, as well. In the future, they will have a great shot with a coach like Coach L. With the way he and his staff develop players and their ability to bring in the top recruits in the country, I think this will slowly but surely turn into a basketball school."
What does being a Miami Hurricane mean to you?
"It means a lot. It has become a dream come true for me. Even with all the adversity and everything that I have gone through, I wouldn't take it back because it has made me a stronger person. I think it has made me wiser and it helped me not take things for granted and just take advantage of every opportunity given to me. I just hope that I can serve as an inspiration to anybody that hears my story> I want them to know that as long as you persevere and you are relentless in your efforts, something good can come out of it."