Shannon Russell poses nine questions to XU's RaShid Gaston before his first (and last) Shootout

On losing, singing, and his fear of spiders

CINCINNATI -- Xavier forward RaShid Gaston started his basketball career at Norfolk State, sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, and is playing in his first -- and last -- season as a Musketeer.

Thursday marks his lone appearance in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout.

The 6-foot-9-inch senior has made quite an impact this season, averaging 7.3 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds. He has helped fill a massive rebounding void left by graduated players Jalen Reynolds and James Farr.

With the big rivalry game between No. 24 Xavier and No. 19 Cincinnati just around the corner, Gaston took a few minutes to answer nine questions about life and basketball.

Where's the toughest place you've played this season?

RG: I'd have to say Baylor. It was so big and so loud. I don't think I've ever played in a gym that was that loud. That was honestly a time when Ed (Sumner) could be standing just next to me and calling out a play and it was like "What?" like five before we got it all together.

XU's average home attendance this season is 10,295. What's special about playing at Cintas Center?

RG: Honestly, I think I'm still amazed by the crowd. Obviously I watched it all last year and played in 10 or so home games this year, but it just kind of amazes me. I've never been in an atmosphere like Cintas or some of the schools that we've played at on a consistent basis. Like at Norfolk State, we might have had one game at home a year sold out. Other than that, the games were pretty light in numbers. Just to come out in the Cintas and see the crowd support and hear the crowd support is still … it amazes me sometimes.

The regular season is more than half over. Has it gone by quickly or slowly?

RG: I think it's gone by pretty fast, to be honest. It just seems like the other day I was on the phone with you after I had just committed. It's kind of amazing that we're to this point. I couldn't wait to get to this point all last year, sitting at the bench waiting to play. It's crazy now that I think about it,

You have admitted you can be a sore loser. Why do you take losing so hard?

RG: Because I'm just a competitor. I just want to win every single thing. I want to be the best at every single little thing that I do. When I don't reach that goal, I just feel like I let myself down. I wish I could be more like that in the classroom. I'm getting better, but definitely a lot of sports-related stuff. It can be something as simple as a 2K (video) game, or even if it's just a sprint in practice. It's probably gotten worse as I've gotten older, because when I was younger, I'd play the game for fun. Now there's more on the line, I feel like. And then, obviously, as I've gotten older, the level of play that I've reached has also gotten higher too. I just want to be able to win at the highest level.

How much does missing two point-blank shots against Creighton with 19 seconds left Jan. 16 stick with you? (Xavier lost, 72-67.)

RG: I'm still sick about it. I'm still upset about it. I know they were two shots I should have made. Obviously the coaches and my teammates have done a good job in telling me to have a short memory. I definitely know those were two crucial plays that I definitely have to convert. At least one of them. I felt really bad about that, especially that night. It still kind of lingers with me.

You tweeted soon after that game -- an emoji and a short message -- expressing your disappointment. What is your view on social media during the season?

RG: I don't really check my timeline too much. Anything you might see me tweet or retweet is really random, to be honest. It's not like I'm on social media all day, checking to see what people are saying. It's just kind of an outlet and relief for me. Obviously I knew people were going to see it, people were going to say things, but I wasn't really necessarily concerned with the responses I got from it. I was just trying to cope with it, in a way. I don't think any of our guys are really that involved in social media during the season and the coaches do a good job of telling us not to really concern ourselves with it. I think we're on the same page.

I hear you're terrified of spiders. Did a spider cross you at some point?

RG: I honestly don't like any insects, but spiders really, really get to me. I think it's just their size, their legs, and their quickness. And then there are different ones that can do different things, like jump all over the place. I just think the idea of one crawling on me is what irks me. All their legs … I don't know. That made me tingle right now. I remember an instance in a sixth-grade camp that I went to, a big class field trip. I think we went to some camp not too far from school for a weekend or something like that. Just waking up in the cabin and there was one right next to me and that type of stuff and I wasn't really an outdoorsy guy at the time. Part of the reason was for insects and bugs like that.

So if there's a spider in your apartment, someone has to come take care of it for you?

RG: Yes, ma'am. If there's a bug in the apartment, I'm definitely going to have someone else in the room kill it. There may be instances where I'm the only one in there, though. At that point, I do not want to leave, necessarily, because I'm never going to know where it is again. I try to toughen up and kill it somehow. It might take me 25 minutes, no exaggeration, but eventually I get the job done.

I hear you can carry a tune. Do you sing a lot?

RG: I do sing a lot. People wouldn't expect it from me, but I listen to a lot of R&B music and pop music and stuff like that, and I really do like to sing. I'm not going to say I'm good at it. I think I'm good at it. I often tell people that if I blew up in singing, I wouldn't play basketball. The best song for me to sing? Probably any song that The Weeknd has ever made because I think I should be The Weeknd.

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