This basketball season marks a new chapter in the life of Malcolm Bernard, a 6-foot-6 Xavier guard who spent two years at Charleston Southern, transferred to Florida A&M, sat out per NCAA transfer rules, and played one season with the Rattlers.
He couldn't be more excited about what lies ahead in his final year of eligibility.
"I really want to win a lot of games here at Xavier. And I really, really want to go to the NCAA Tournament. I've never been and I want to go more than anything in the world," Bernard said. "As a team, and an individual, I want to make noise."
Bernard, a crafty left-hander who prefers to finish drives with his right hand, figures to play an integral part on the Musketeers' team. Last season he led Florida A&M in scoring (14.4 ppg), rebounding (7.1) and assists (4.3).
Bernard sat down with WCPO.com's Shannon Russell to answer nine questions about hoops and life.
You arrived on Xavier's campus in August. What have the last four months been like?
MB: The last four months have been crazy. Like a whirlwind, obviously, trying to adjust and see how different it is from being at Florida A&M with the weight program, with the workouts, with the coaches in general, the learning curves. Xavier is not as big as I thought it would be campus-wise, so classes are kind of in similar areas, but outside of that it has been pretty simple. You have a learning curve, but for the most part it hasn't troubled me so much to where I can't handle it or where I'm overwhelmed.
This is your third college basketball program. What are the lessons you've learned along the way?
MB: For one, I learned that it's not always greener on the other side. I learned definitely how to be more patient in what I do and how I go about things. Our society nowadays is "gimme, gimme, gimme, I want it now." And I think that I learned a lot about how to be consistent as a player from both (Charleston Southern and Florida A&M). And, obviously now, coming to Xavier I'm learning even more. Those things have helped me become a better person, a better player and a better man.
Do you regret not staying at one school all four years?
MB: My dad asked me that question about two weeks ago. Honestly, I couldn't give him a straight answer because if I'd gone somewhere for four years, it could have been great or it could have been bad. I'm very blessed to have experienced the things I've experienced. That helped mold me and shape me into the person I am today. So I don't know if I'd really want to change that or not because I might not be the same.
What are your pregame rituals?
MB: The only people I feel like I can talk to on game day are my coaches, because they're going to be the people giving me the assignments that we have to carry out throughout the game, and the players on my team because…I don't know. Those are the only people that I think won't take me out of my focus.
I don't even really talk to my parents that much. They kind of know, though. It's been like that since high school. I feel like it helps me stay more focused, too. I don't have to worry about answering my phone or texting a person back.
And Skittles is another thing. I have a bag of Skittles on game day at some point. It's just a little extra energy that can push me. I can't eat them literally before the game -- it has to be a couple hours before. Why Skittles? They're just so good. They're my favorite candy. I tried Life Savers one time, but it just wasn't the same.
You're studying for your master's degree in Sport Administration. What do you want to do with that?
MB: Sport Administration is a very cool deal. You can go and be a coach from there or you can be an athletic director at different high schools. And on top of all that, I feel like I can meet a bunch of great people. It's good to meet people, make connections and build bridges. It's a one-year program. Since it's 30 hours, I can finish by summer.
You said that the most impressive athlete you've ever met is Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, a former star at Lehigh. Where did you cross paths?
MB: I met C.J. McCollum when I originally committed to Richmond. He was in the gym one day working out.
He was shooting and he called me over and we chatted up for a little bit. He asked me to rebound for him. Just watching the things that he did was really impressive. It wasn't just getting up shots -- he had to make a certain amount in a row before he would move to the next stop.
And then when we spoke, he talked about waiting your turn and not listening to what everybody else tells you. Your parents might say, "Oh, you're better than this person, you're better than that person," but you just might not be ready for that moment yet. You might not be ready for that particular spotlight. So just wait your turn.
Two words: Country music. Really?
MB: (Laughs) Yeah, I'm a fan. Definitely a fan of it. So I moved from Miami, Florida, to Middleburg, Florida, when I was 16. It's like a country area and I went to a really country school. And maybe, like my senior year, I got into it a little bit.
When I went to Charleston Southern, I kind of got into it a lot more because I had a lot of friends who liked country music. I fell in love with it. I thought it was amazing. I could understand it and relate to it a little bit.
My favorite country singer would probably be Luke Bryan. I just like the way he goes out there and does his thing. He's pretty cool.
I don't broadcast it (to my teammates), but I definitely play country music. I don't know if they know I like it or not, but I'm not afraid to play it.
What is something about you that fans don't know?
MB: I went roller skating for the first time ever here with Ed (Sumner). I fell like a billion times. Ed loves to skate. That's one of his stress relievers. So he asked me if I'd ever been skating and I said, "No." He said, "Alright, let's go."
I'd like to try things I haven't done, like skateboarding. One day I definitely want to parachute jump. I think those things will be fun for me. Maybe go to the zoo. I've never been to a zoo.
Best basketball memory?
MB: I would definitely have to say my junior year at Middleburg High School because I think I found myself as a player and a person. There were particular games that helped me grow throughout that season. My coach put so much responsibility on me, and that year we went to the Sweet 16. We had a terrible record and were picked last but we actually beat the No. 2 seed and the No. 4 seed. We lost to the No. 1 seed by like five points in the championship.