Q&A: C.J. Gunn “willing to do whatever coach wants” in first year with IU basketball

Indiana’s four class of 2022 freshmen are scheduled to begin arriving on campus this weekend, and The Daily Hoosier has been checking in with them over the last few months.

Lawrence North product C.J. Gunn originally committed to Indiana when Archie Miller was the head coach, and he quickly confirmed his commitment to Mike Woodson when he was hired.

We caught up with Gunn to discuss his senior season and final preparations to join the IU basketball program.

Our Q&A with the in-state shooting guard is below.

TDH:  How do you feel like your senior season went, especially with you stepping into the role as the centerpiece of a great program like Lawrence North?

CJ Gunn:  I think the season went well, obviously I think it could have went better with us losing in the sectional championship.  But it was a great season, I learned a lot from it from being in that leader role, and leading my teammates, and going out there and really having the ball in my hands a lot more, I feel like it was a learning lesson for me definitely.

Note: For the 2021-22 season, Gunn averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. He shot 46.8 percent from the field including 37.4 percent from three on 123 attempts, and 71.3 percent from the stripe.

TDH:  Were you able to meet your own expectations when it came to being looked at as the main scorer for the team?

CJ Gunn:  I definitely think I stepped up and took on that role and responded how I wanted to.  But like I said, we couldn’t get the job done as a team, because I definitely wanted to get back to state.

Note:  Gunn added nearly ten points to his scoring average from his junior to senior seasons.

TDH:  A lot of people say the 2022 class got a raw deal with how the pandemic impacted their exposure.  How do you look back on it now as you get set to embark on high major college basketball?

CJ Gunn:  I’m just thankful, because it could have been a lot worse, we could have been not hooping at all.  It’s a part of our story, part of my story.  Everything that has happened has all led to this position right now.

Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

TDH:  Tell me about the areas of your game you’ve been focusing on since your high school season ended.

CJ Gunn:  I’ve been really focused on my ball handling, and my shot consistency on the court.  I’ve also been focusing on my meal plan and following a strict weight lifting plan that Coach (Clif) Marshall has down at IU, and I’ve been trying to implement that into my everyday schedule multiple times a day just trying to get my body prepared for when I head down there on June 3.

Note:  Gunn indicated Marshall regularly sends along weightlifting and meal information.

TDH:  Have you also been staying in touch with the coaching staff?

CJ Gunn:  I definitely stay in touch with them, I call them really every week and they talk to me about their excitement for me to come down there and things that they think will help my game, and I just try to take in all the information that I can.

TDH:  What is your reaction to the roster Indiana has assembled for next season with the return of Trayce Jackson-Davis and all of the other key pieces coming back?

CJ Gunn:  I’m so excited for next year, I feel like we’re really going to turn some heads and we’re finally going to get this back where it needs to be.  And we’re definitely going to make some noise next year, and I can’t wait to really create a stronger bond with my teammates and coaches, and I know we’re going to do good next year.

TDH:  Are there guys on the team that you’ve already built a relationship with?

CJ Gunn:  I’ve built a relationship with pretty much everybody on the team.  Me and the other freshmen have been in a group chat for months now, and some of the guys on the team including Trayce, when they all came back in town this summer, we’ve been getting open runs in.

TDH:  What kind of stuff do you talk about in that chat with your classmates?  What kind of bond have you created with those guys?

CJ Gunn:  We just talk about everything.  Our families, what we like to do in our free time.  It’s just a good time, those guys, they’re my guys already, we all click together, so I feel like this freshman class, if we’re clicking like this on the court like we are off it, it’s going to be crazy.

TDH:  What’s your take on the 2022 rankings now that they’ve been finalized, with you ranked by some outlets and not by others?  Do you take it personally or ignore it?

CJ Gunn:  I kind of do both.  I kind of just ignore it, but for the rankings that do include me, I am blessed to be in this position.  But it definitely adds fuel to the fire knowing that people are still counting me out and doubting me, but I know at the end of the day what I can do and what I can bring to the table, so I just kind of have that ‘they’re going to see’ kind of mindset.

TDH:  What do you see as your role as a freshman, and what do you see as your opportunity to break through and get playing time in your first year?

CJ Gunn:  I’m just willing to do whatever coach wants me to do, but I think I can really help the team with scoring the ball and defending, so focusing on being a two-way player, I feel like that’s really my focus.  Defense is definitely a priority, because if you can guard anybody then you’re going to stay on the court.

TDH:  Indiana has a high assist guy in Xavier Johnson, and then pass first point guards coming in Jalen Hood-Schifino and Gabe Cupps.  Does that get you excited as a scorer knowing those guys are going to find you?

CJ Gunn:  For sure.  I can’t wait to share the court with all those guys.  I feel like our chemistry on the court is going to be unbelievable.

TDH:  Are you excited about representing the state in June and playing for the Indiana All-Stars?  Is that still something that guys care about?

CJ Gunn:  I definitely take pride in it, knowing all the history that comes with it.  I’m just trying to take the practices seriously and really just give everybody a show since that’s what they pay for.

TDH:  Your family has really stood out to me over the last two years.  The bond seems really tight.  Tell me how important family has been to get you to where you are right now?

CJ Gunn:  It’s very important.  I feel like that in order to succeed, you need a strong support system, and I feel like my family has done an amazing job raising me and turning me into the young man that I am today.  I love them for that, and they’re just going to continue to help me get through this journey, and get through college and get to the goal where I want to get to.

See also: 

The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”