Today we chat with . . .
Position: Shooting guard
Hometown: Winnetka, Ill.
How and when were first injured this season? It was my lower ab. I did it in October, the week before we played Sonoma State. I played on it against Sonoma State. I don’t know exactly how I did it. I did something and it kept getting worse and worse and worse until I couldn’t do anything. Initially, they thought it was because my hips were out of alignment. I tried doing rehab for about a month. It didn’t do anything. We saw another doctor and he found the muscle tear.
How frustrating has it been to watch the entire season from the sidelines? Man, it’s just been so frustrating,. Watching my teammates go out and work so hard and not be able to help them at all. I told myself if by Christmas break I still wans’t better I would probably redshirt. Still (now), I have to sit and watch practice.
Has there been any upside to it at all? I’ve learned a lot about the game. I’ve become a lot more familiar with coach Montgomery’s stratgies and his offense and how he likes to play and how guys should play,. In high school, a lot of guys were The Man. They could do whatever they want. It’s really important to find your role here. The game is a lot stronger and faster and there’s so many little things you have to be cognizant of to be successful.
You had surgery for a hernia to repair the torn muscle in your lower abdomen. How is that coming and what do they tell you about how you will be by next fall? I should be better than I came in this fall. It’s coming along real well. I started running a week ago. I’m starting to do some core strengthening exercises. I should be able to go full speed come this summer. It’ll be great.
What do you expect from yourself next season? I’m going to work hard this offseason. I expect to come in in great shape, really work on my shooting and my ball handling. I really don’t know what to expect next year. I want to be able to come in and give our team a lift and help us win some games.
If you could play 1-on-1 with any player in basketball history, who would you choose? Probably play Reggie Miller. He’s one of my all-time favorite players. I love to watch his (shooting) stroke.
Hypothetically, I have $10 to bet on who wins. Tell me why I should consider you: Because he might get too distracted with talking crap and less concentrated on beating me and I can sneak a couple by him.
What’s your basketball career highlight so far? My last AAU season we had a big run. We beat a lot of good teams. We beat the No. 1 team in the country that had (Ohio State freshman) Jared Sullinger. I played well. Everybody played well. They had a lot of good guys, They had lost like two games in four years and we beat them at nationals. That was sweet. My high school team has never been great, but I’ve always been on teams with a great bunch of guys.
Who’s the best dunker on the Cal team? Robert (Thurman) can surprisingly throw it down, but Justin (Cobbs) is kind of nice, too.
Give me one word that describes coach Mike Montgomery: Smart.
When you’re not playing, do you prefer to watch college basketball or the NBA? College basketball. Just the environment is cool. Guys are always playing hard. I’ll always be watching my Bulls, but if the Bulls aren’t on I probably won’t watch any NBA.
When you were younger, other than basketball, what was your favorite sport to play? I played every sport when I was little. I loved baseball, I played football. I even played on a roller hockey team. That was a lot of fun. My favorite sport was baseball.
How good were you? I was pretty good. I played through my sophomore year in high school. I was a pitcher. I think I definitely could have played in college if I had stuck with it.
Aside from you, who is the best athlete in your family? My dad (who played professionally for two years in Sweden) still claims to be the family dunk champion. He beat me when I was 13 years old. He’s 48 and he can still dunk. He’s 6-5.
Before basketball, what did you first want to be when you grew up? I have no idea. I think basketball has been my dream since forever. There’s a picture of me my mom took when I was just a year old, There was one of these little mini-hoops with a mini-ball and I was shooting at it. I had the same shooting form I have now.
You graduated from New Trier High, the same school that produced former Stanford shooting guard Matt Lottich and former Cal coach Ben Braun. Who was the best high school player among the three of you? I have no idea what Ben Braun was like (as a player). Lottich and I are pretty tight. We still keep in touch. He’s in Japan now. We work out in the summer. I’ve been to every New Trier game since forever. The former coach was my godfather, so I went to games for years. Numbers wise, Lottich has all the school records. He was on the best team we’ve ever had.
Greatest vacation you’ve ever taken? Where did you go? Who was along? My best friend in high school took me and two of our other really good friends to the Bahamas for two weeeks. We went to this small island and they rented a boat and a house. There was a basketball court on the beach and I’d wake up in the morning and play basketball with they locals. They were all freak athletes, had unbelievable ballhandling skills, but none of them could shoot.
What’s your favorite place to eat on or near campus? Definitely the Mandarin House. A little Szechuan chicken.
Favorite Cal class? Probably my physics for future presidents. It’s a non-computations physics class. It’s all the main ideas you need to know that are relevant in today’s society. For example, hydrid cars or differenet energy sources. It’s probably the most relevant course I’ve taken.
Your favorite website? Failblog.org. They play videos of people failing. Doing dumb stuff. One guy tried a skateboarding trick and he messed up and the skateboard came back and hit him in the head.