Oct. 21, 2009
While the Washington men's basketball team has been hit by the flu bug, they know that the beat must go on. One player who has managed to stave away illness so far is freshman Abdul Gaddy. A lot will be expected from the McDonald's All-American in his first year at Washington, but the Tacoma, Wash. (Bellarmine Prep) native expects to be up to any challenges thrown his direction.
GoHuskies.com: This isn't just the start of the season for you, it's the start of your first year of college. How's U-Dub treating you?
Abdul Gaddy: "It's good--just getting used to the college life especially getting up, working out, going to class, being on time and stuff like that. Then coming back and having to do workouts. It's something that you have got to get used to, but I think I've kind of gotten into the flow of it because I've been here all summer with summer school and stuff."
GH.com: Off the court, have you had an "I'm in college" moment yet? Has it really hit you?
AG: "Nah. Me and Clarence [Trent] were talking about this the other day. We haven't really felt like, `Oh, I'm in college now,' I haven't really felt that experience yet. I'm kind of feel like I'm here, and I'm doing all this other stuff, but since I've been here all summer it hasn't really been a big deal. We were talking about how we might not feel it until practice gets going, or we might not feel it until that first game."
GH.com: Oh, you'll feel it that first game.
AG: "Once that first game hits I'll definitely feel like `I'm in college.' I just can't wait to feel that experience."
GH.com: Talk about you, Clarence [Trent], and Isaiah [Thomas] all being from Tacoma. How long have you known each other and been playing with and against each other?
AG: "I've known since Clarence and Isaiah since I was a young kid. Isaiah used to play for my AAU coach--he played for him when he was older than me when I was coming up. Isaiah went on and did his thing and played for the same AAU coach. I've known Clarence since I was little, too. We went to the same Boys and Girls Club and the same centers and I've hung out with him and stuff. Yeah, I've known those guys for a long time and we've always talked to each other and been friends. Those guys are like older brothers for me here--they look out for me and take care of because I'm the young guy. They always watch out for me and just make sure I'm okay."
GH.com: Talk about Clarence Trent a little bit. Obviously he brings a lot of athleticism and a lot of excitement, we've all seen the YouTube videos and the dunks. What else is he going to bring to the team? What can we expect out of Clarence Trent?
AG: "Clarence is a great athlete. He's a hard worker. He really rebounds well for his size. He's not [Jon] Brockman, but he has the ability to be like Brockman, but that's gonna take time. But you know, he rebounds well for his size and he's really competitive especially when you get him in that mode like, `Alright, I don't want to lose any more,' that real competitive mode. He's really competitive and he knows how to play hard. He's a really good player, honestly. He's got the dunks, you know, that's going to come. And, he's just a goofy kid off the court. He's probably the funniest kid on our team, he's the one that's always making us laugh, and making the coaches laugh. When the coaches are yelling at us, he always says something that makes everyone laugh. He's that dude that keeps us calm, so we're all like, `Yeah, Clarence is going to say a joke and we're going to laugh and move on.' He's cool, though."
GH.com: What's been the biggest difference in playing with these guys? We're talking on the court now. At this higher level, what's the biggest adjustment you've had to make?
AG: "The speed of the game, definitely has been the biggest change. They move a lot quicker, you know you have got to get back on defense by sprinting to certain spots and things like that. The game's certainly a lot quicker than in high school. Also, it's a lot harder to drive to the basket because the paint is so clogged with so much help defense that you really have to be a good outside shooting team. Those two things really stuck out to me. Also, on the defensive end, Coach Romar has us working so hard on defense to learn the rotation. I didn't know the defense was so complicated, but it's obviously going to help me in the long run."
GH.com: I saw you play a couple a times last year, and not to knock on your high school team but sometimes when you'd drive to the hoop and dish you would knock guys in the head or they'd miss layups. Is it a lot more fun playing with guys that are putting the shots in?
AG: "Yeah, but I mean it was new to them too at first. They didn't really know my game or my strengths. You know, when I come in the lane I just dish it and sometimes they didn't catch it at first, but now they realize that I'm really going to pass it if they're open and I'm driving through the lane and they'll be wide open for a dunk or a layup. Now they're catching everything and finishing and stuff. We've got some good team chemistry going on, and I think we're going to be real good."
GH.com: Coach Romar commented on your strengths as a true point guard. When did you sort of discover that? When did you accept your role as a true point guard, rather than an off-ball guy?
AG: "I kind of accepted that when I was a freshman in high school. I'd never played point guard in my life; I was always a two-guard. When I was a freshman, we had a senior there who wanted to do all the scoring. If I wanted to start I had to be a point guard. I really didn't even get to start because there was another senior, but I came off the bench as a point guard. I started to get more playing time as the year went on, then at the end of the season I became the starter and played point guard. After that, it was just my more natural position. I'd never played it in my life but I played it really well. I was making my place with my teammates and we kind of went from there. Then, my AAU coach told me, `You should play point guard. You're going to have great size for it.' My dream was always the NBA, and he said, `If you want to get drafted one day and be a top-10 pick, at that size, it'll be better for you to be a point guard.' So I said alright this is the position I want to be in."
GH.com: Is there a guy you model your play after? A favorite player, or anything like that?
AG: "I'd say Brandon Roy, because he knows how to score and make plays for his teammates, also. He's not just a scorer, but, you know, I watch a lot of players. I watch Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Chauncey Billups -- all the NBA guards. They all do the same thing --make plays for their team and lead their teammates and they lead their teams. They're great competitors and they lead their team on offense and defense. I can learn from all of them."
GH.com: Have you kept in touch with your ex-teammate Avery Bradley over at Texas? Do you know how he's doing?
AG: "Yeah, we talk every day. He's doing really well, actually. I'm not surprised that he's making a great transition to the college game because he's a great defender, he's extremely athletic...I expect him to be a one-and-done type player. That's how he's always been, he's an extreme competitor. I've never met anybody as competitive as he is. He's a great player and he plays extremely hard. I expect him to have a great season."
GH.com: Maybe you'll see him in the NCAA Tournament?
AG: [laughs] "Yeah that'd be cool."