Ryan Mendez Interview - Part I

The Bootleg had a chance to sit down with junior forward Ryan Mendez.

The Bootleg (Scooter Stepford and many others): What's with the new 'do? Does Monty "ask" the players to have a certain "look" for the season?

Ryan Mendez: I don't think so. If it gets too out of control, they'll ask you to cut it. But it actually started when I was running out of money last quarter. I kinda like to keep my hair clean cut. I'd get my hair cut about every week and a half - for sure before a home game or a road trip, so it cost me quite a bit of money. I was running low on cash and just decided not to cut it. I said I wasn't going to cut it until I had a good game. Then I had a couple of good games, and people said, "Aw, don't cut it now." Now I'm locked in this season where I can't cut it until the end of the season - my teammates won't let me.

The Bootleg: No cut at all? So it's going to keep growing?

Ryan Mendez: I might get a little trim in the back. I don't like it in the back when it gets 'fro-ey. Maybe a little trim, but definitely not cut until the end of the season.

The Bootleg (Encina 502): Is there a lot of additional pressure on the team now that you guys are back at #1?

Ryan Mendez: I don't think so at all. I was kind of upset at a lot of people's responses to our being #1. We worked the past three years - the past four years - to get to where we are right now. Everything on our goal sheet leads up to being #1, so it's definitely a place where we wanted to be. Some people said it was too soon. Whatever. Now that we have it, we want it until the end of the year.

The Bootleg: Did you have visions when you signed out of high school that this was a program that was going to be a #1 team?

Ryan Mendez: I don't know. I just looked at the foundation that we had and the guys that were coming in. Especially, getting Jason and Jarron. I definitely thought it was possible, given the system we have and the guys - how close we are together. That just helps everything out.

The Bootleg: Were you also recruited by North Carolina?

Ryan Mendez: Yes.

The Bootleg: Is it true that Dean (Smith) was going to come to your house, but you decided right before then?

Ryan Mendez: Yes. Dean was doing a basketball clinic in Europe, and he knew that I was visiting Stanford. He told me, "It's between you and this other guy that we want, and we're going after him. If he doesn't commit, then we want you." I was like, yeah, OK. Whatever. So he calls me up and says, "We want to come make a home visit when you come back from Stanford. Please don't commit to Stanford while you're out there." I was thinking, "Sweet." I came here a couple of days later, and Monty said, "We've got a couple of guys, too. Are you going to come or not going to come?" I really liked Stanford and went ahead and committed. I called Dean from my hotel room and told him I wasn't coming.

The Bootleg: Did you know who it was you were going head-to-head with (at Carolina)?

Ryan Mendez: Yeah, that's what I didn't understand. I almost felt like I was just going to fill a spot. You see those white guys at North Carolina, and they never get in the game. (laughter) No, I'm serious. If I go there, it's an opportunity that you're going to get to go there and see what you can do. And I can guarantee that I'm not going to be one of those guys.

The Bootleg: Was there a player you watched play or a particular game you saw of Stanford in high school that left an impression on you that made you want to be here?

Ryan Mendez: (Jake walks in) No, actually I was watching junior high. I was watching Casey play, and I thought if that guy comes to Stanford…

Casey Jacobsen: Of course! Of course. (smiles)

Ryan Mendez: (laughs) I think being from Texas, I didn't get to see a lot of Stanford. I thought Stanford would be about last place I would go to. It's kind of funny how things turn out. My first recruiting visit, I went to U$C, and they were playing Stanford. Stanford lost; U$C wound up winning. I thought, "Man, there's no way I'm ever going to this school." Then they started recruiting me. As I looked more into it - the weather, the academics and the guys on the team - it was a real plus.

The Bootleg: Who did you look up to the most , or who influenced you the most, on the team when you were a freshman?

Ryan Mendez: I have to say Rich Jackson. He kinda took me under his wing. He was really great. Madsen, Moseley and I were all thrown into the mix, while the other guys had all been there a while and knew the plays. The first couple of weeks of practice, you're running forty new plays. Rich really made it a point to take me under his wing, and just really help me out. I'll always be thankful for that.

The Bootleg: Any good nicknames on the team that people don't know about, either the other guys or you?

Ryan Mendez: Me, no. Like they say, "Mendy" every now and then. Coach just made that up when I was a freshman. Typically, when I go home, people don't call me that. That name just sticks around here, which is fine.

The Bootleg: Did you have a high school nickname?

Ryan Mendez: There was one time in the paper - I hit six three's in a second half - that they called me the "human howitzer." They said that one time, but that's about it.

The Bootleg: Anybody else?

Ryan Mendez: As far as the other guys on the team - Jason is "Shaq-daddy"… Mose is either "Spree" or "Mose"… Jarron we call "Zwillis."

The Bootleg: Zwillis?

Ryan Mendez: That actually happened when we were scouting U$C, I think. We were watching the tape, and someone asked, "Who's this guy?" Jarron said, "Huh? Zwillis?" He just said it kinda funny. Since then, he's been "Zwillis." I call Casey "Iceman." Have you ever seen Top Gun? He's got that little hair up front like that, and he does everything by the book.

The Bootleg: Is he almost as cocky as that guy? (laughing)

Ryan Mendez: No, no. He's not cocky like that guy. I just call him "Iceman," but it hasn't really caught on yet. I'm trying to get it to catch, though.

The Bootleg: We can do that…

Ryan Mendez: Yeah. Spread the word.

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