ZH: Where were you born and raised, and when did you start competing in sports?
KP: I was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington. I grew up in Chattaroy and then moved to Elk when I was in 5th grade. I have been playing sports since at least kindergarten, but started to play competitive
basketball in the 4th grade. Also, the summer of my 4th grade year I competed in an Arco Jesse Owens track meet and got 1st in the 200m and 2nd
in the long jump. Due to the first place finish, I was flown to Seattle for free and competed against fellow athletes around the region in the 200m dash. I got 3rd and thus, my track career had begun.
ZH: You say you love to run. How many miles per day do you run? And what is it about running that you like so much?
KP: Well, let's see...I can't give an exact mile amount for my running at Gonzaga. I do a lot more sprinting and go on timed runs. In high school, I would run about 25-30 miles a week in track and cross-country. I guess my love for running is fueled by a desire within. There is just something about being able to push your body to the limit and overcome fatigue both mentally and physically. Also, I am driven by success and found it early in track, so pursued running even more.
ZH: At 2A Riverside High School, you were pretty much "the man." What has the transition from Riverside to Gonzaga been like for you?
KP: I have to be completely honest when I say the transition was harder than I ever thought it would be. I had several people tell me I wouldn't be the big fish in the little pond anymore, instead I would be the little fish in
the big pond. I took this to heart and knew it would be a lot of work, but still it took time to adjust. In high school I seemed to base my worth and self confidence on my accomplishments, whether it be in sports or academics. My first semester I was unsuccessful in both and really had to discover who I was. Some of the differences from high school to college was the pace of the game, and physicality. I could run and keep up with people in the open court but found that I got pushed around and my shot was
slow to get off. A lot of time in the gym, some confidence, and a year under my belt has helped me to compete stonger this summer, and I feel
comfortable playing at the college level.
ZH: Tell us about your recruitment, both for basketball and track/cross country, and what led you to ultimately choose Kelly Graves' program?
KP: Alright. I admit I was recruited a lot more to run track/cross-country than I ever was to play basketball. I got several letters of interest in the mail for running but the main schools who called were University of Montana, George Fox, Montana State University, Northwest, Idaho State, Eastern, and Wazzu a little. The schools calling for basketball were Gonzaga, Portland State University, University of Hawaii, Northwest, and Eastern. I chose Kelly Graves' program because he had such a personable staff and really cared about me as a person. My junior summer I was playing in a tournament in Oregon and had probably the worst showing ever. I thought for sure Gonzaga would never consider me again, but instead I got a phone call in my hotel room from Kelly Graves saying to keep my head and
play with confidence, because he wouldn't be recruiting me for nothing. Then, he assured me the scholarship would not be taken away. At that
point, I knew this coach was special. Plus, being close to home, getting into a growing program, and having a solid academic school was an additional bonus.
ZH: For those who haven't seen you play, describe your game. What are your strengths and areas you're working on improving the most?
KP: Well, I have always been fairly quick so I would say my strongest assest is my speed. I can run the open court well and love to push the ball up the court. My shooting from the outside is inconsistent and I need to work on seeing the court, I over penetrate and turn it over sometimes. Also, my defense is okay but I need to work on being more physical with my opponent.
I also like to get offensive rebounds and feel I cut pretty well. Let's see, oh, I need to work on being a solid point guard and setting up my
teammates while seeing all the defense, also being able to handle the ball with pressure and in traffic. I have also been working on getting a solid pull-up jumper. So, basically my summer is devoted to lots of work on my game to get into the rotation next year at Gonzaga.
ZH: You said Jackie Stiles was someone you looked up to. Tell us why and some of the similarities you discovered you share with her. What was it like for you to watch her play in the Spokane Arena in the Womens 2001 West Regionals?
KP: Yeah, I really look up to Jackie Stiles. She had an amazing college careerand high school career, and was rookie of the year in the WNBA. I admire her game in the fact that she could score from anywhere on anyone. She had a killer fadeaway jumper, was super fast, could shoot the lights out from 3 point land, and was always moving. I especially enjoyed the games int the
arena because I saw her close up and in action. I had seen her on tv but on camera it is hard to watch the game away from the ball. I guess the
similarites we have our she ran the mile, 2 mile, and 800 in high school and won all 3 at the state meet. When I was a sophomore I had the same
accomplishment, although I couldn't repeat it. Also, she is humble and plays ball for her little sister who died, and she is also a Christian. I
respect that about her too.
ZH: What are your personal goals for your sophomore year, and the team's goals?
KP: Well, my goal for next year is to get into the rotation. We only lost one senior [guard Triana Allen] and have a lot of talented players coming in, so it is going to take a lot of work but I think I can get at least some solid minutes. I would love to start, but again there are just too many girls ahead of me so don't
foresee this happening. As for our team, we are going to make it our goal to win the WCC Tournament and make it to the NCAA's. Also, we are going to try and not lose a single home game, and improve that record on the road...our schedule is pretty challenging next year, so we want to compose a solid record to make it into the NIT if we fall a little short of our goal in the WCC tourney...so we don't have a repeat of what happened this year.
ZH: What people in your life have had the most positive influence on you, on or off the court?
KP: There are a lot of people who have had an influence in my life both on and off the court. My parents have always pushed me and helped to show me what success took. My high school coach helped me with my game by staying after all the practices and shooting with me. He also strengthened my relationship with God and would help me focus for games. I had a lot of teachers who were supportive and would encourage me to keep going. Let's see, my brother helped me by always playing with me in the summer and stuff. And at Gonzaga, my teammates have been good to lend an ear and be encouraging. So many people!! Also, my coaches have helped me analzye my game and be a better ball player.
ZH: What is your GPA, your major, and tell us what activities or hobbies you enjoy when not playing ball or running.
KP: [laughs] Oh wow. Okay, I started in the pre-med program here at Gonzaga and was
overwhelmed by the classes, basketball, and being a college kid. My GPA first semester is rather embarassing to say, but 2nd semester I took core
classes and got a 3.56, so that averaged my cumulative gpa to a 3.01. I am now looking at exercise science (to be a physical therapist), or would love to be a teacher ( either a math teacher or elementary), and also coach on the side. Outside basketball I like to play the piano, I like to paint, especially with my fingers, I love to go camping, and be goofy with
my friends. I really like the sun and summer time.
ZH: Okay, they call you "Masta P." Let us in on how this nickname came about.
KP: Well, the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, the point guard onour high school basketball team always had nicknames for everyone to make it easier to call out names on the court. I was KP, hence my initials. Well, he had a girl that we called bp as well, so for some reason my name was reduced to P. I didn't care for just P, it didn't sound so intimidating. [laughs] So, we decided on Master P, but then when you said it fast it came out Masta P, and it stuck for the rest of high school. KP was more a running name, but in basketball it would be Masta P. I thought it was fun.