8 youthful questions for Derrick Low

DERRICK LOW, THE junior guard who poured in 22 points in the Cougars' upset of Gonzaga last week, is not only WSU's leading scorer and top stealer, but one of the most interesting cats you'll ever meet. The giant tattoo on his leg was tapped using a hippopotamus tusk. One of his hobbies is hurtling from tall places into rivers and oceans. His "guardian angel" is the god of sharks.

And during the recruiting process, he was so comfortable with Dick and Tony Bennett that he committed to the Cougs without even setting foot on campus.

Last week the high school hoops legend from Hawaii took time to answer a few questions from me -- a 13-year-old Cougar fan -- as part of a weekly column aimed at asking WSU players the questions adults don't seem to think of asking.

CF.C: Your biography says you cliff dive. What's the highest point you've jumped from?

Derrick Low: Have you ever been to Snake River? You know that big cliff that everyone jumps off of? Well, if you swim across the river, there is a much bigger one and you jump off that one. It was so scary. It took me like 30 minutes to jump off. I was just standing on the top, thinking of what was going to happen to me.

The File On
DERRICK LOW
HOMETOWN:
Honolulu

POSITION:
Guard

YEAR:
Third-year junior

SIZE:
6-1, 186 pounds

CHOSE WSU:
Over Hawaii and Utah

WSU CAREER:
Started final 22 games of his freshman season at point guard following a foot injury and scored in double figures nine times. Named honorable mention Pac-10 all-freshman. Last season he started 19 games at point guard, missing eight with another foot injury. Moved to shooting guard before this season began.

STATS:
Leads the 2006-07 Cougars in four key categories: scoring (16 points per game), minutes (31.7 per game), steals (17) and three-point field goal percentage (.500).

PREP CAREER:
Led Iolani High to four state championships. A three-star prospect rated the No. 6 point guard in the West by Scout.com in 2004. First team All-State four times and three times named "Mr. Basketball" as Hawaii's best prep player.

MAJOR:
Communications

CF.C: You have a new tattoo on your leg this season. What's it all about?

Low: It goes from my ankle to my hip on the left side of my leg, and it is a traditional Hawaiian tattoo -- it's the design of my family genealogy. At the bottom of my ankle there is water. My family god, or the guardian who watches over my family, is the goddess of the ocean and her name is Na Maka o Kaha'. As the tattoo gets bigger it turns into a different design and it symbolizes the eight different channels in between the Hawaiian islands. That's because my family originated from Tahiti -- they were navigators and they navigated the eight channels. The outside triangles going up my leg -- that's my family protector, which is the Shark God and his name is Ka-moho-Ali'I.

CF.C: What's the best part about growing up in Hawaii?

Low: Everything is the best about growing up in Hawaii -- you got the food, you got the great weather, you got the beaches surrounding you. You can basically start in the middle of the island walk in any direction and you'll find a beach.

CF.C: If the off-season Coach Bennett moved you from point guard to shooting guard. Which position do you like best?

Low: I am okay with either one, but I really like playing shooting guard. I think it's a little easier to have another play-making guard at the same time as me so we can both distribute the point guard duties of creating, instead of just having me as the point guard where I have to do all the creating myself. I can come off screens and hunt my shot more at the two guard.

CF.C: How is Tony Bennett's coaching style different than Dick Bennett's?

Low: Coach Tony is a little more offensive minded. Coach Tony has a little more up-tempo style to his offense. You know, he was a good shooter (in college and the NBA) so he likes to incorporate getting shots for his shooters. I think they're alike because they still want the team to have a defensive mentality. Dick Bennett was a master defensive coach and I think that kind of carried over to Coach Tony Bennett too.

CF.C: What's the most important thing you learned from Dick Bennett?

Low: The ability to play great defense. A lot of teams overlook the importance of playing defense. A lot of teams try to focus on playing warp speed basketball -- you know, push it up and down the floor and not play defense. You take a look at Coach Dick Bennett's teams in the past, that Wisconsin team that made it (to the Final Four) in the NCAA Tournament, you know they weren't the most talented team, but they played great defense. Like they always say, defense wins games.

CF.C: People call you D-Low. Is that your only nickname?

Low: Nope, that's really my only nickname and, actually, I've been called that since I was a little baby. My older brother's name is Dustin and he had that nickname before me. It just passed down to me.

CF.C: Which one of your teammates could be a professional comedian?

Low: I would either have to say Robbie (Cowgill) or Daven ( Harmeling) because they're both really funny guys and they seem like they have that kind of personality where they can make a lot of people laugh.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hayden Eller, 13, is an eighth grader in Chelan, Wash., where he's a starting guard on his basketball team. His addiction to crimson and gray started four years ago when he attended his first game at Martin Stadium, a Cougar win over Idaho. His father, Jeff, is a 1985 WSU graduate. Hayden has named his dog Butch, and currently is working to turn his little brother and mom into avid Coug fans.

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