Monday, March 8, 2010

Deleted Scenes from "Hardwood Graduation"

As promised. It's always fun to edit works like this, knowing that Scribe is a perfect place to show everyone what was left on the cutting room floor.

Again, mucho thanks to Rodney Brown.

What you’re doing now and how long have you been involved?: I work in K-12 education as a high school administrator and have also worked as a high school athletic director in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’ve also served as a nonprofit executive with the Urban League, adjunct college professor of political science at a community college, a community organizer with a neighborhood association and a political candidate for local office.

Where did you play?: I played at Santa Clara University (1986 to 1990). Santa Clara produced professional players like Kurt Rambis and Steve Nash and sports super-agent Billy Duffy. In my senior year, I led our team in 3 point field goal shooting, was a team captain and led our conference in 3 point field goal percentage for most of the season. My proudest accomplishment was being voted Most Inspirational Player by my teammates in my senior year.

Did you start? Sub?: I started about half of the games my senior year, otherwise I was the first player off of the bench. I played point guard and shooting guard.

If you played with a highly-touted pro prospect (no matter how long they stuck in the pros), who was it?: Although Steve Nash entered Santa Clara 2 years after I left, I played pick-up basketball with him at Santa Clara. And, all the things that Steve does now, he was doing’ as a freshman at Santa Clara. There were three guys that I played with that went on to play basketball overseas (Dan Weiss-China, Jens Gordon-Germany and Jeffty Connelly-Spain).

1. Few people could consider playing a game at a highly-competitive level. As one of the chosen few to do so in the college ranks, how did you view yourself as a player coming into the team and with each passing season?

I viewed myself as a “basketball player” for real, not someone who just “played basketball”. My intention from 7th Grade on was to earn a basketball scholarship to play basketball in college. I had over 20 Division 1 scholarship offers from colleges all over the country and chose Santa Clara University because of its competitive basketball program, its high academic standards and I wanted to go to college in California. I’m from Michigan and we take basketball pretty seriously in Michigan, but I wanted to experience an environment like the California Bay Area.

My personal theme was to “use basketball and not let it use me”, thus I entered college planning to be a four year player, make a significant basketball contribution to my team and take a shot at pro basketball if the opportunity presented itself. I anticipated that I would be one of the better players on the team and that my hard work and dedication would insure that I was on the court and contributing. I figured that I would play some as a freshman, more as a sophomore and by my junior and senior year, be one of the best basketball players in the country. Well, it didn’t work like that for me.

I actually did not get an opportunity to play until my senior year. Why? There were other players that entered my school with credentials and talent that was better than mine and for different reasons I was not able to get on the court. Nonetheless, I developed my leadership skills through those seasons and learned to deal with adversity head-on. My experiences (good and bad) made me who I am today!

2. If you did consider playing after college, what changed your mind as the seasons progressed? If you didn’t, what did you plan to get out of playing basketball in those years?

I just simply did not get the opportunity to play enough in college thus my game did not develop to the point where I would have been able to play professionally. And, after all of the hard work and sacrifices I made as a scholarship athlete did not produce the athletic results I desired, I just didn’t care anymore about competing professionally as a basketball player, but focused my attention instead on leadership opportunities at school and in the community once I graduated college.

3. So going into that final year, did you come to a conclusion about your post-college career? Specifically, did you still want to be involved with basketball or were you prepared for a new arena altogether?

I coached at the middle school, high school and college level when I left college and ran summer basketball camps to stay around the game and give back to young people looking to be “basketball players”. I knew that I would still be able to help young people develop their games, even though I was done as a player myself. I still played “pick-up basketball”, but nothing organized. Again, my experience as a college scholarship athlete prepared me for my leadership role(s) in the community.

4. How often did you talk with your teammates and coaches about your post-college future? What were those conversations like?

I never talked with coaches about post college basketball as a player, but did discuss coaching with them. All of the guys I played with in college “would have” taken the opportunity to go further as a player if the opportunities would have presented itself to them.

5. Some teams are blessed or cursed with the attention towards a highly-regarded pro prospect. When you were on the floor with that player in practice or during the game in your last days, did you ever consciously compare yourselves out of any jealousy and/or admiration?

There was never any jealousy from me in regards to those players that had opportunities to play professionally. I always encouraged my teammates to pursue their dreams and if being a pro player was their dream I was one of their biggest cheerleaders.

6. Talk about your last game. What was running through your mind the night before, leading up, during and after the game? (Elaborate as much as you want).

I actually was relieved that my college career was over and that I used basketball to earn a degree from a highly reputable academic institution. I graduated in 4 years and was very proud that I stuck it out and didn’t quit even though the challenges and demands of being a college scholarship athlete were very tough for me personally. I wanted to win that last game and gave my all towards the effort because I wanted our team to advance on in our tournament and keep playing, but when the final buzzer sounded, I left it all behind with no regrets .

7. Was it difficult to reconcile that you weren’t going to play competitive ball anymore or were you actually relieved? In either case, why?

For me it wasn’t difficult at all. I had resolved early on that I needed to play as a sophomore minimally to develop my game so when I didn’t get the opportunity to play as a sophomore and junior I decided that I was going to develop my leadership skills and playing basketball professionally was not even something I thought about anymore.

8. Finally, what is your interest in the game now? Do you still love it or have you drifted apart from the game?

I’m still connected to the game and I give clinics and tutor high school kids in the finer aspects of fundamental basketball. I still love the game, but I’m not a “basketball player” anymore and I play recreationally sometimes but not very often.

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