South Carolina junior forward Michael Carrera sat down with GamecocksOnline.com this week for our web series, “Starting Five With Michael Carrera.” The series will highlight a different member of the Gamecock men’s basketball team with each edition. A tenacious rebounder, the native of AnzoĆ”tegui, Venezuela, has led South Carolina on the glass during his first two seasons in Columbia, averaging 6.4 rebounds per game and adding 7.8 points per contest for his career.

Q: Coming from Venezuela, how did you get into basketball?
A: My dad (Luis Carrera) played professionally for 21 years back in Venezuela. At first I didn’t like playing basketball, it was soccer and then I started playing baseball. Finally, I realized that I had a guy next to me that knows the game and a lot of my skills are from him. He taught me a lot of his skills. One of the things that he taught me when I was little was to treat the ball like it’s your family and that’s something I always have on my mind. That’s why I always say that I’m going to get the rebound, because that’s my family so nobody is going to take it from me.

Q: Do you model your game off of any professional player?
A: My dad. He was a big rebounder back home and I think his game is kind of like mine, but I’m a little better than him. I’ve always played the same as him though.

Q: What aspects of your game have you been working on this summer?
A: Shooting. A lot of shooting. One of the big things also is being focused and focused in the game, and focusing on the little things that coach is telling me so that’s one of the big things that I’ve been working on for this season.

Q: You’re known for your passion and intensity, where does that come from?
A: I think when you’re Latino, you have that passion and that intensity. I just love basketball and being on the court so much. When I’m at practice, I’m screaming like crazy. When I’m doing that, it’s just the love of basketball and I enjoy having Frank [Martin] and my teammates on my side. That’s where I think my passion comes from.

Q: What is one Venezuelan food that you can’t live without?
A: Arepas. When my mom comes here, she cooks everyday, every morning. She’ll come to the hotel at six in the morning and I have to open the door. Then I’ll go back to sleep and she’ll make me food and that’s what wakes me up. When I smell everything, I just want to get up.

South Carolina continues its preseason for the 2014-15 campaign through the month of October, before hosting Benedict College on Oct. 26, for an exhibition contest at Colonial Life Arena. Admission is free for that matchup, which starts at 4 p.m. ET.