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ivory latta One on One with
Ivory Latta
University of North Carolina

Chatting with one of the country's top college point guards

North Carolina's Ivory Latta has all the credentials of a prototype point guard: outside shooting, slashing to the hoop, leadership, toughness, and passing ability. In fact, she won the 2006 Nancy Lieberman Award as the top collegiate point guard. Gballmag.com, ESPN.com, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and the Basketball Times selected her as National Player of the Year in '06.

The 5-6 senior was the 2006 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, the first Lady Tar Heel to receive the award since 1998. She ranks among the league's all-time leaders in career 3-pt. baskets (sixth), free throw percentage (fifth) and 3-pt. shooting percentage (15th). In 2005-06, she led UNC in scoring (18.4 pg.), assists (5.2 apg.), free throw percentage (85.2), and minutes played (32.1 mpg.), while starting all 35 contests. She is working toward a major in exercise and sport science.

At York (SC) Comprehensive High School, she shattered Allison Feaster's state record for points in a career (3,427) with a total of 4,319 career points. As a senior, she averaged 44.6 ppg.

Gball: With all the awards you received last year, including the Gballmag.com Player of the Year, you still have room for one more notch on your belt, and what would that be?
Latta: A national championship, by far. It is something that was written in my little black book previously, so hopefully we can get it this year.

Gball: Preseason polls have the Lady Tar Heels ranked as high as No. 1 in one magazine, and as low as sixth in another poll? What are your thoughts on the preseason rankings?
Latta: To me, I don't really think about that too much. It doesn't really matter if a team is ranked 12th or 13th, it can come out and get a big win on any given night. Preseason polls, I really don't pay much attention to it. The main goal is to be ranked No. 1 at the end.

Gball: What do you think your role is this year in helping the Lady Tar Heels win their final game of the 2006-07 season?
Latta: Most definitely, I'm going to have to be the leader on the court like I've been doing the last couple of years. I need to be more vocal and more focused on what I have to do for the team, how to get everybody around me playing better in big games. I definitely have to step up and be the big leader this year.

Gball: You have won the ACC Tournament MVP Award two years in a row. What do you do to get up for big contests?
Latta: Oh man, I just get hyped. (she laughs) I'm hyped all the time. I listen to quite a bit of music and try to get my teammates excited before a big game. I just laugh (laughs again). I don't know, it's hard to explain what I do.

Gball: What's been your most memorable moment so far at UNC?
Latta: I'd have to say winning my first ACC championship. That was one of the greatest moments I've had here at Carolina; it was just so sweet at the time. Everybody didn't think we were going to win, but we came out with a terrific victory.

Gball: You led the ACC in free throw percentage last year? Any secrets to your success at the foul line?
Latta: Oh, absolutely not. I just concentrate on getting the ball through the hole, that's about it.

Gball: While tough at the foul line, you also are proficient from behind the 3-pt. arc. What have you done to make yourself a great distance shooter?
Latta: I get in the gym and do a lot of shooting. The other day I was in the gym with my coach and he told me to not shoot from on the line, but get behind the line. So I shoot from 2-3 feet behind the line to increase my range. So, whenever I get in closer to the line, I will have a good percentage. I shoot a whole lot on the gun.

Gball: Your fitness cannot be denied. You have played in all 100 games at Carolina, and last year led the team in minutes played (32.1 mpg.). What kind of fitness regiment do you go through to enable yourself to play that many minutes?
Latta: Oh man, I work extremely hard during the preseason. I just work to get myself in the best of shape because the style of play we use is very tough. We run and gun, so you've definitely got to be in shape no matter what position you play. So, I really focus during preseason on trying to get myself in great shape. I run, run, run about 3-4 times a week, and try to get into the gym to do extra drills.

Gball: You enrolled at North Carolina after being named the High School Player of the Year while playing at York, South Carolina, Comprehensive High School? Tell us about the recruiting process and why you chose to spend your college days in Chapel Hill?
Latta: Oh wow! The recruiting process for me was really kind of hard. I had a lot of schools to choose from. My top three were North Carolina, Connecticut and Notre Dame. I sat down with my parents and talked about what would be great for them travel wise. I grew up in a Carolina home so I always wanted to play here. I just decided to come to Carolina because of the atmosphere and my parents would be able to see me play. For me, I just wanted to go ahead and get the recruiting process out of the way a little bit before my senior year so I wouldn't have anything on my back. I wanted to just concentrate on my senior year in high school and not have to worry about college.

Gball: You are the all-time leading scorer in South Carolina high school history for both boys and girls with 4,319 career points. When did you start playing basketball?
Latta: Actually, I started playing basketball at the age of 5. My dad told me that I started playing ball with the guys at that age. My family has had a tremendous influence on my basketball-playing career. They have been so supportive. They've been hard on me throughout my whole career, but I'm still blessed to have the type of family members that I have had to stick with me. I've got a great family--large, but a great family.

Gball: You received a key to the city of York, SC, which celebrated Ivory Latta Day on Jan. 10, 2003. Tell us about that honor.
Latta: Oh wow! That's one of the biggest honors I've had in my whole career. Receiving the key to the city shows their support, not only my own family, but also the community, how they supported me, not only during my entire basketball-playing career, but my life, my grades and my whole community involvement. Receiving the key to the city was one of the biggest things on earth that I received in my entire career. It was a great day!

Gball: You scored 50 or more points eight times as a senior, with a high of 70 points in one game. How many points did your high school team have in that game, and how does one player ever score 70? (23x33 overall field goal shooting, 14-for-19 from 3-pt. range).
Latta: I think we had 115. I really don't know how I scored 70 points. I was just really on that night. My teammates were just giving me the ball, and I couldn't miss. I hit 14 3-pointers, a lot of free throws and stuff like that. I was just hot.

Gball: You seem to enjoy playing basketball, always smiling while you are on the court. What's behind the smile?
Latta: Nothing, really. What you see, is what you get, pretty much, on and off the court. That's just me. I love to smile. I get that from my mom and dad, so that's what I do all the time.

Gball: I would imagine you're thinking about a career in the WNBA. What's in the future for Ivory Latta after basketball?
Latta: Oh, man. After basketball, I definitely want to be able to build my own boys and girls club back in my hometown for the inner-city kids. I just want to work a lot with kids to try and help them out as much as I can. I know definitely that I will have a boys and girls club.

Interview conducted by Gball Editor Dave Wohlhueter


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