SAN DIEGO - The Aztecs play their second game of the season Wednesday when Texas Southern comes to town and senior guard Jeremy Hemsley has a lot to look forward to this season, as a starter and a leader.
Hemsley knows how to earn a starting position.
"Going into the season, my mind set was I'm not letting anyone take the starting spot from me," said Hemsley. "I didn't want that to happen."
But it did. After starting his first two years at SDSU, Hemsley lost his point guard spot to Devin Watson last season. Hemsley played in 32 games, starting just seven of them, a decision that took a toll on his confidence.
"The starting spot last year, that's something that you do keep in mind going into the next year, so I think I've done a good job of just proving that that's a spot that I will be able to earn," said Hemsley.
"Obviously when you start, you get a taste of starting, you want to stay in the starting lineup so I think Jeremy is going to be excited and he'll have an opportunity to get back into the starting lineup," said Brian Dutcher, the Aztecs head basketball coach.
By definition, Hemsley's experience makes him a veteran on the team and that means he's expected to lead, a responsibility he embraces.
"I take that part of it personal," said Hemsley. "That's a challenge that I want because I've been here three years and when I came in, seeing guys like Winston, or Skylar, seeing guys how they handled that position, that's something that I've always looked forward to so that's something I definitely take serious."
"He watched his roommate all those years, Trey Kell, lead the team as a senior so I'm sure Jeremy is excited for his opportunities his senior year to step up and take more of a leadership role with the team," said Dutcher.
As for Hemsley's teammates, some say his personality makes him fit for the job.
"There's a lot of comedians on the team for sure but it probably has to be Jeremy," said Jordan Schakel, a sophomore guard. "He's always been a funny guy, he's always been a guy in the locker room that can always bring a smile to your face."
"I like making people laugh but it's crazy because I used to be shy," said Hemsley. "I used to be real shy. I used to be real scared when the girls talked to me, I used to say cooties, I used to do all that."
Though he might not act as shy as he once was, Hemsley knows he has to prove himself on the court if it means calling himself a leader and a starter.
"The way that I feel, I think that this could be my best year personally and just how fun it's been, it might be one of the best years people have seen in awhile," said Hemsley.
"I think Jeremy has put the work in," said Dutcher. "He's had a great three-year career and now he's ready to have the kind of senior year he's always dreamed about and we will hopefully help him make that happen."