The Bootleg: How does the
uncertainty with Casey and Curtis affect your off-season plans, motivation and
Josh Childress: I, myself, am working a lot harder - or plan on working harder - just in case they leave. Just so that I feel that I'm ready in case they decide to make that jump. So I won't be left out in the cold, or what have you. I think I can say for the rest of the team that we're expecting them to leave, and work out accordingly.
Rob Little: I personally don't think the workouts should really change from year to year. Even as a freshman, you are still working out because you want to go do the NBA, hopefully. Hopefully that's everybody's dream. Regardless of if they stay or if they leave, if you are working so hard and they stay, you'll be that much better.
The Bootleg: When the news came out
that Casey was entering the draft, was that completely expected, or what was
your anticipation of that? Also, what is your individual or collective
anticipation of what you think Curtis will do to follow that?
Chris Hernandez: I mean, you all saw Casey pondering it, so I don't think anyone was surprised by him entering the draft. Personally, I think if he has a good chance, he has to go. Why wouldn't you? But if he still sees stuff he needs to work on, stuff he didn't excel in at the camps, and he thinks he can come back and work on that and get better next year, then I have no doubt he'll come back. I don't think he's like, 'Oh, I've got to go to the NBA.' Either way, 50/50, he could go or he could come back. With Curtis, that's even more up in the air. I haven't really talked with him about it, or talked with anybody on the team who knows.
Rob Little: With Casey, I think he's been toying with the NBA maybe since his freshman year, since he's been so good so long. His coming out this year wasn't a big surprise. With Curtis, he got so good so fast, and his stock just flew up this year. I've talked with him on and off about this, and I think he'll talk with other big men in the NBA to see what their experience has been. I think they'll be a big influence on him. They're there and obviously have experienced it all.
The Bootleg: What are your own
individual philosophies on the subject of leaving college early for the
NBA? It's been a topic for quite a few years now in basketball, but only
recently has it become so intertwined with Stanford. Jason Collins left
last year, but he had been at Stanford for four years. Now Casey and
Curtis could be the first guys to actually leave as underclassmen.
Josh Childress: I think it's just part of being able to improve overall better athletes. Casey and Curtis are exceptional players - very good and gifted. Just to have that opportunity to make that jump is very appealing. I think that they will do what is best for them. But I think that's a hard decision to make - whether to stay and play another year, or go on to the bench. Sit on the bench and make millions, or come back and - it's just a hard decision. Not to say that they're going to sit on the bench, though.
The Bootleg: Josh, I know this is
also a question close to you because your buddy, Jamal Sampson, has left Cal and
is reportedly entering the NBA draft. What is your personal reaction to
seeing someone close like that taking off so early?
Josh Childress: I personally think that he should have stayed another year. But that's his decision. I think it would have helped him a lot. He has a great NBA body, and he's a pretty agile big man. He's a great player. But he could have improved his offense a lot. As much as people say defense is important in the NBA, I see it's all offensive. Everybody has to score, and you have to score to win. You really don't get credit for defense. I don't know exactly how to say it, but I think he should have stayed and worked on his offensive game.
The Bootleg: Moving off the NBA
topic now, how has the adjustment to college been for you guys? Not just
basketball, but balancing academics, social life, time commitments - and all of
you are some distances away from home. Now that you're hitting your final
quarter of your freshman year, what are your reflections?
Rob Little: That is the big question. Coach Montgomery made the comment at the beginning of the year: the stuff you do on the court is easy. The basketball is what we know, is what we came for - or at least one of the big reasons we are here. It's fun...
Josh Childress: It's what we've been doing all our lives.
Rob Little: Yeah, we enjoy it. Like right now, I wear these clothes all day long (Rob pulls at Stanford long-sleeve shirt). Stanford for me personally has been a big adjustment in my life, just having to come 3000 miles from home. I don't see or talk to a great deal of people whom I've been in contact with for all of my life, and I've been all my life in Virginia. The students here are very, very intelligent people. I mean, I live in a dorm where the guy across the hall from me is an Intel Scholar. There are students here on full academic scholarships at the engineering school. I know one of the guys on my floor was a high school teen Jeopardy champion - he won like twenty grand. There's so much you can learn from these people, but there's also a lot they can learn from us. I think that even though Stanford is a really good school and the athletes have to have academics that are really good to get in here, I think there is still a little bit of friction between "regular" students and athletes. I think there are stereotypes. But everyday through making good decisions, good judgment and displaying our character, we begin to erase some misconceptions about athletics - that we're not as academically strong. Maybe we're not. Maybe we're not 1600 SAT people, but we can still come in here. And yeah, we do our homework; yeah, we go to class. We have to turn our exams in on time. I think a lot of those stereotypes can be erased and are being erased. A lot more communication between athletes and students needs to happen. Because a lot of times during the season, especially in an all freshman dorm, where a lot has to do with Residential Education, all of the dorm meetings, going out to parties, going to San Francisco on a treasure hunt, going on ski trips - it's a lot of stuff I couldn't do. I'm not exposed to some of the other people in the dorm, therefore I haven't made a lot of friends the past two quarters. Just now this spring quarter, I'm meeting people whom I honestly haven't met before who live just downstairs from me. I didn't even know their names. Now I get the chance to meet them and get to know their stories, and they get to know me a lot better. We can talk and know each other and say, 'I know him. He's not such a bad guy. He doesn't not want to be around, he just hasn't had the time.' Communication and time with the rest of the Stanford community has been a big adjustment for me.
Chris Hernandez: Probably the hardest thing for me, was like you said, your friends. I have been with the same group of friends since I was in elementary school - same guys. I was with them all the time growing up, but then coming here you have to meet new people, develop trust and relationships all over again. It's kinda hard to decide - is this a person I want to be hanging out with? Someone who is going to make me a good person or someone I want to be around? For me, though, the transition wasn't that hard. My home is about 3 hours away, so my friends have been able to come visit me and my parents have been able to come to all my home games, basically. I think my dad was able to make all my games. It wasn't that hard for me. I was happy to start a new life in college, get away from my area, start a new chapter in my life. It was a nice transition for me. First quarter, I did a lot of dorm stuff. I tried to meet a lot of people in my dorm, and go to meetings - try to do some stuff, though some I wasn't able to do. But this last quarter, I lost like all relationships with everybody because we were gone so much. I didn't have time to go talk to somebody in their dorm room, or stay up until 2, 2:30 or 3 talking to people. I had to go to bed for practice and work. Now this spring, I don't know what to do. You know, it's like time on my hands...
Josh Childress: Time on your hands? Geez! (Josh laughs)
Chris Hernandez: The relationships I had developed early had diminished because I couldn't sustain them during the winter quarter. So I kinda feel awkward in my dorm now. Not to say that I don't know everybody and say 'hi' to them all, but those relationships aren't sustained and I haven't figured out what to do with that yet. We'll see.
Josh Childress: The biggest adjustment for me - well, obviously academics - but being away from my family so much. I have a very tight-knit family. My brothers and I, we're very close. Not being able to hang with them all the time - that was one of the hardest things for me. They've always been my coaches, trainers and everything. Now all of sudden, it's a switch. That was hard being away from my brothers.
Rob Little: I just want to say one more thing. Because we've all been so busy, and because this is the first time for all of us going through this, the three of us really became a lot closer. Now I look at my phone, and I've got a call from Chris, a call from Josh. There's a voicemail from Chris telling me something, 'Hey man. What classes should I take?' Or he's giving me advice about girls. (Josh erupts with laughter) Or Josh is asking me advice about girls. (All three bust out laughing)
Josh Childress: Oh, no, no!
Rob Little: So I think that even through the darkest spots of those quarters, we've benefited from it and now we're really close. We all have really good relationships with each other.
The Bootleg: So tell me Josh, what
would be the bigger mistake: going up and missing a 360-dunk in a game, or
asking Rob for advice on girls?
Josh Childress: The bigger mistake?...
Chris Hernandez: Asking Rob for advice! (Chris laughs)
Josh Childress: No, I think the dunk. I think coach would have you on the bench. Rob (pensive pause) Rob has been a very friendly guy...
Chris Hernandez: Very social. He'll walk through the cafeteria and will stop and talk to someone for twenty minutes...
Josh Childress: But Rob never goes out. I mean, we go out...
Rob Little: I have begun to start coming out. (Chris busts out laughing again)
Josh Childress: He stays in his room a lot for some reason. I think that's how Chris and I got so close so fast - because we were running buddies at the beginning of the year. We would just go out and hang out all the time, while Rob would just hang out in his room. But he's starting to come out more... (Josh grins) Finally.
Rob Little: You see, I'm now the nice guy. Josh and Chris are now the bad guys. They're the ones always going out and partying and hanging around all the girls - all the females. But I have the nice guy image. Now that Chris has his significant other... (Chris and Josh laugh)
Josh Childress: Aw, you're gonna put him out there like that? (laughs)
Rob Little: Chris has calmed down a bit. But I'm still the nice guy and Josh is the bad guy.
The Bootleg: So Chris is
domesticated, Rob is the nice guy and you're the bad guy, Josh?
Josh Childress: I don't see how I'm the bad guy...
Rob Little: No, a girl even solidified it! She said that. (Rob grins)
Chris Hernandez: (Roaring laughter) Oh, man. We're taking off the gloves here!
The Bootleg: Seriously, though,
how tough is it try to balance school, being away from home, basketball - and
trying to have that social life. Stanford is already a unique place to
date, with so many people so focused on goals. Is that something you've
thought over, or just now coming to spring quarter?
Chris Hernandez: It is tough. Especially when you start adding in other factors, like school and basketball. Girls, and guys' friendships. Especially for me right now, like Rob said, I have a significant other. I got into that and spent a lot of time with her. I need to spend time with her, but I need to go back to spending time with Josh and Rob and hanging out with the boys more. I got away from that. I felt myself missing hanging out with the guys because I'm with her all the time. I'm trying to get back with that, hanging out with my boys more. Like I said earlier, trying to socialize and hang out with people in my dorm again. Developing those relationships again because I kinda lost that. It's tough, man. You can't please everyone how much they want to be pleased. It's part of growing up, but I like it. It's a challenge and it builds you into a better person.
Rob Little: Since we'll find ourselves with more time this spring quarter to interact and relate, a lot of us are going to find ourselves making new friends literally in our dorm, with people whom we haven't talked to a great deal. Now that we have weekends free, we can go to neighboring colleges maybe, or to different parts of our campus we didn't get to before. Meet new communities and new people we haven't been around. Each of us has had a very strong family background. Josh talked about it, and I know Chris' parents are always at the games. My parents have come to as many games as they could. They kind of got us through that winter quarter, always supporting us through the games and being there for us emotionally when we didn't necessarily have the network of friends. I think our families played a big role, just being there.
Josh Childress: I also think spring quarter is an easier time to make friends because of the fact that the first two quarters of your college career are the toughest. This quarter, we're kind of settled now. We're the veterans of the game...
Rob Little: We're no longer freshmen.
Josh Childress: And that goes the same for everybody else. All the freshmen are like, 'Yeah - I know the ropes now. I'm beginning to know what it is to be in college.' (pause) What was the question again?
The Bootleg: I was asking how it's been socially and trying to date.
Josh Childress: (laughs) Oh, yeah. Everybody has more time on their hands, to go out and meet people. Like Rob said, we can also go to the neighboring colleges and really get a chance to just meet new people.
Rob Little: "People" like that equals girls. (laughs)