Syracuse WBB: Get to Know Star Guard Brittney Sykes

USA TODAY Sports

Over the past year, Brittney Sykes has made the leap from top freshman to top player. Sykes, from Newark, N.J., leads Syracuse with 19.8 ppg after being a role player last year. This week, I caught up with Brittney to talk about everything from her team's success to her career aspirations and a love of playing trumpet.

Last year, you shot 43 percent from the field. This year, you’ve shot over 50 percent in EVERY game. What's been the biggest difference for you?

I put a lot of work in the gym over the summer. Going back home, I wanted to make sure I stayed in shape. Coming into my sophomore year, I knew that coach expected a lot out of the returners and I wanted to make sure that along with everybody else, I was up to date as well as them. I just made sure I put in a lot of hard work in the gym with my teammates during the summer when I was here and when I was home. To come back and know that the results have shown is really fun. It shows that hard work does pay off.

Do you feel that you’ve become a leader of this team even as a sophomore?

I guess so, yeah. There are different types of leaders. I feel that ever since high school, I more led by example. I don’t really say much. I’m starting to say more and be more of a vocal leader. But, I’m more of an action-type of person to lead. I really want to lead by example.

You got to spend Thanksgiving break in St. Thomas, playing really well and in a nice warm location. How much did you enjoy that?

It was a lot of fun. Going snorkeling with your team and you almost forget that it’s Thanksgiving a little bit because you’re in St. Thomas and you would have never thought that you would be there for Thanksgiving break. But, it was a plus. And to go out there and go 3-0 and beat and play against great teams is another plus.

The team flew to St. Thomas, flew back to Syracuse, had to travel to Iowa and is back home all in the span of about a week. Now, you’ve had a long break to calm down and stay in one place. How nice is that?

It’s really good. You get some rest. With finals week, everybody is stressed out. Whether it’s a good final or a bad final, you just want to get them done with so you can have a nice break to rest up your legs and rest up your body. Because, you know once you come back from Christmas break, it’s going to be conference play and you get no breaks in conference play. For us to get this break right now is really, really good.

How would you compare this team to last year’s team?

I don’t know if you really can compare them because we had different players. Last year, obviously we had Kayla (Alexander), Lacie (Hall) and Carmen (Tyson-Thomas). They were great, great players for us. Now we have the Day twins, me and Brianna (Butler) have stepped up and La’Shay (Taft) and Rachel (Coffey) – everybody has stepped up on this team. So, it’s a different team...Whether it’s better or not, we have a great team every time.

Back in high school, you played trumpet. Do you still play trumpet here at Syracuse?

I actually talk to our director of operations, Cedric, and we talk about drum all the time. He was in the drum line and I was in the drum line in high school so we go back and forth about who’s better. I just talked to my mom about Christmas presents and I want a trumpet for Christmas in order to start playing it again because I actually do miss it.

Are there are other gifts that are on your wish list?

Not other than the trumpet - I’m just happy to be with my family. My little sister comes back from her first year of college. Well, her first semester of college so it will be fun to see her, talk to her and ask her how it is as a student-athlete now that she sees what I go through on a daily basis.

Is there something else you’ve missed from back home in New Jersey that you’re looking forward to?

Well, I can’t say weather since we have the same weather down there. Jersey’s Jersey. I got pretty used to the Syracuse weather.

Now, I know you want to be part of the media. You seem so talented, so why do you want to become a hack like the rest of us?

(Laughs) I wouldn’t say a hack. In high school, I was in the MSG Varsity Club. It kind of helped me figure out what I wanted to do in college. Everybody always told me, ‘you have a knack for interviewing people and media and social media, things of that nature’. So I thought, I’ll give it a go. I actually really love my major and I love media.

At the press conferences, you tend to be the vocal leader and talk a little bit more than the others…

My teammates force me to do that.

Do you see it as preparation for working in sports media? Does it build the skills you would need?

Yeah, it probably is practice. At the same time, my teammates tell me, ‘Hey Brittney, you’re good at this. Go ahead and do it’. I have their backs and I’ll do it for them. I have no problem doing it. It’s pretty fun for me.

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