Forward Justin Sears ’16 has been a force in the frontcourt for the Bulldogs this season. He leads the team with 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. He recorded career highs of 26 points and 13 rebounds in Yale’s season-opening 93–77 win over Central Connecticut State on Nov. 9. Sears has scored at least 10 points in all seven of Yale’s games so far this year and has recorded three double-doubles. The News sat down with Sears to talk about his recent success on the hardwood.
Q: Describe your recent success on the court.
A: I try to be as proactive as I can every minute I’m on the court … I also try to improve my leadership skills. I’m out there trying to give advice to teammates and trying to take more leadership roles.
Q: What did you do this off-season to improve?
A: Just work on my game — dribbling and everything. The biggest thing was conditioning, so pretty much every other day, I was running two miles on the treadmill machine with my teammates. The big part of my summer was working with a Nike Pro studio, where we got to play against some really good competition — NBA, professional players, so that gave me a lot of confidence coming into this year.
Q: Tell us where your game is at the moment.
A: At this point, I’m playing well, but I could play much better. I’m still learning the offense line and how my teammates react and work with me. There’s a lot to improve on. Hopefully by the time [the Ivy League] season starts, I’ll be more confident with my offensive and leadership roles.
Q: How is the camaraderie within the Yale Basketball team? Do you guys get along?
A: Everyone gets along with everyone else perfectly. We eat together, we take the same classes — the camaraderie is great. Everyone understands his role on the team. We want to see each other succeed; we want to make sure we give the extra passes in the games to get everyone involved in the game. It’s definitely a team effort.
Q: What kind of role does your coach play in the team’s success?
A: The coach is just great. He’s always trying to help us with our shots. Working with him helps us have a better understanding of what is expected of us.
Q: What expectations do you have for yourself? For the team?
A: I just want to be the best player that I can be for the team. I’m always trying to learn and get better. Obviously as a team, the goal is always to win the Ivy League championship.
Q: When did you start playing basketball and what motivated you to continue?
A: I didn’t start playing basketball until my eighth grade year. I was playing tennis since I was five. Only in my sophomore year did I realize I could [go to] an Ivy League school if I were to take it seriously. So that motivation of getting to a top-notch school made me push forward.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I’m always trying to improve my game and trying to go as far as I can — hopefully, playing professionally. I would also like to go overseas.