July 6, 2015
After working her way into the starting lineup as a freshman, rising sophomore Zaire O’Neil knows that even more responsibility lies ahead of her during the upcoming season.
“The first year was an adjustment period,” O’Neil said. “For me, I had to adjust a lot quicker. Now is also an adjustment period because I still have to act like a senior on the team and take a big role.”
O’Neil averaged 11.3 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game during her freshman season and led the Jackets with 36 blocks, averaging 1.2 blocks per game, which was 12th in the ACC. She had five double-doubles and scored in double figures in 22 games. O’Neil finished fourth in blocks (36), tied for fifth in rebounds (180) and seventh in points (350) on Georgia Tech’s single-season freshmen lists. After her impressive freshman campaign, she has set a few goals for herself for her second season on the Flats.
“I want to continue to grow and to continue to be a leader and set the stage and an example for the freshman and my teammates,” O’Neil said.
She has started out on achieving her goal of becoming a better leader by trying to help the incoming freshman get acclimated to both Atlanta and college life, a situation she herself was in just a year ago.
“Summer workouts are going really well,” O’Neil said. “The freshmen have been here about two weeks and they are really pushing themselves. They are trying to get better and get in the flow of things.”
The Yellow Jackets switched up their workout one early morning this summer, going through Marine training with a few local Marines. O’Neil saw her teammates bond together through the difficult, physical exercise.
“It felt really good to watch our team go through Marine training,” O’Neil said. “Marine training is a tough situation. I feel like everyone did good and everyone grew as a person and as a player. Everyone pushed themselves. To see everyone cheer each other on was a really good feeling and knowing we are building team chemistry early. I really feel good about this team.”
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to?
Grand Turks, Puerto Rico when I went on a cruise with my family
What is your favorite thing to do outside of basketball?
Listen to music, shop and to spend time with my family
Who is your favorite musical artist?
I listen to a lot of Party Next Door and Drake
What is your favorite food?
Pasta and chicken
What is your favorite summer time activity?
Going to the beach – I’m a jersey girl