The Washington men's basketball team is one month away from the official start of practice on October 14. UW is coming off one of the finest seasons in school history.
The Huskies posted a 29-6 record, tying the school record for wins in a season. They won the Pac-10 Conference Touranment for the first time and became the first UW squad to receive a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies won two postseason games to advance to the Sweet 16.
Senior forward Bobby Jones is one of the key returning members of that team. He spent part of his summer in Colorado Springs, Colo. training with the U.S. junior national team which won the championship at the World University Games in Turkey.
Jones spent a few minutes talking with GoHuskies.com
GoHuskies.com: How has your summer been?
Bobby Jones: "It's been busy. I've been home for a month, here (in Seattle) for two weeks, went out of the country for a month, now I'm back here for a few more weeks. Now I'm just getting ready for school to start. We're doing some conditioning. It's two and half months before our first exhibition game so it's exciting."
GoHuskies.com: You haven't had official practices yet, but have played pick-up games. Which of the new players have impressed you?
B.J.: "I knew (Jon) Brockman was going to be good, but Harvey Perry and Justin Dentmon are good too. They are going to be key contributors to our team because we lost some guys in those positions. They are going to have to slide in and be able to take that role. Maybe not that big of a role, but they are going to have to be able to contribute at some point in the season."
GoHuskies.com: Is Jon Brockman as intense and physical as his reputation says he is?
B.J.: "Every time I play against the dude he only plays at one speed and that's hard all the time. I expect that from him after seeing him play for the last month. When I came in people would say I was relentless and I took that as a compliment and I hear people calling him relentless and a hard worker and hard-nosed. And it's really true. He takes hits and he just keeps playing and doesn't make any excuses."
GoHuskies.com: You have one year left in your collegiate career. Does it feel like the time has gone by fast or slowly?
B.J.: "A little bit of both. At this moment I can't believe I'm on the way out. I remember when I was a freshman coming in and being nervous. It feels good. Every end has a beginning so it's just time to move on, but not before we have a big season."
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on your college career?
B.J.: "I think I've gotten better since I've been here. That's all I want to do is get better from year to year. As long as we keep winning and getting deeper and deeper into the tournament, I can't ask for more."
GoHuskies.com: Will you be a leader this year as one of the few seniors?
B.J.: "Will (Conroy) was a great floor general last year and with his personality he was always a team-oriented player. But now Brandon and I have to be more vocal than we were last year. I try to lead by example more than vocal but being as we have so many young guys, somebody is going to have to talk to them and let them know this season is going to go as perfectly as you planned. You have to have patience and work through it and we have to encourage them."
GoHuskies.com: What area of your game did you work on improving this summer?
B.J.: "You always want to improve on your shooting. I can never reach a point where I can say that I can't get any better with my shot. I want to work on my ball handling to create for myself and others. I need to make sure I'm in shape when the season starts because I don't want to get into foul trouble and I've worked on that."
GoHuskies.com: What was the World University Games tryout like?
B.J.: "I was pretty confident. Going in we only had 14 people try out and only two got cut. So I figured if I couldn't make the team at least that would be pretty sad on my part. Once I made the team I was happy that I was going and I had never left the country before. I got to play with players I see on ESPN all the time and they probably have never seen me before. So it was just a great experience getting to know these players and living with them for a month. On top of winning the gold medal."
GoHuskies.com: What was it like having other Pac-10 players on the team?
B.J.: "I already knew Chris [Hernandez] from high school. There was already a connection there. And Matt Haryasz is a good guy. Of course we talked trash amongst each other and grouped up and trash talked to other conferences. I feel comfortable around those dudes because those are dudes I played against."
GoHuskies.com: The U.S. team won the championship. Where is your gold medal right now?
B.J.: "It's hanging on my doorknob in my room. I'm getting one of my jerseys framed as we speak and I'm going to have it signed by the whole team. I don't know, I might send it back home to my parents."
GoHuskies.com: What was the competition like against all of the foreign teams?
B.J.: "Just aggressiveness and the way they play physical is different from here. It's real frustrating and just the little things they do are totally different. But at the same time it made me smarter and I'll be able to pick some of the stuff they do and try to use it here and see if I can expand my game. It's a different type of game over there. All they do is shoot. The bigs shoot, the guards shoot, everybody shoots. There isn't one dominant big man."
GoHuskies.com: Do you feel that playing for that U.S. junior national team will raise your national profile?
B.J.: "I hope so. If not I certainly have a lot of the apparel and the USA stuff to keep as a memory. They asked me to come out for the team because the like me and they like the way I play. They didn't just do that just to do it. They could've used any player in the nation. I feel like maybe next year people are going to be looking at me more and that's just added pressure, but it's good pressure to have."
GoHuskies.com: Your time at UW is nearing the end. What do you plan to do after college?
B.J.: "I'm on pace to graduate. As a basketball player I'm still experiencing different things and different places. I'm an English major and I want to do some writing and maybe write a book. And maybe this basketball thing can work out."