Senior forward has been preparing his whole life for shot in the spotlight.
LOS ANGELES — For nearly two hours, some of the best Pac-10 basketball players surrounded Quincy Pondexter.
To his right was California’s Jerome Randle. To his left USC’s Dwight Lewis. And behind him was Stanford’s Landry Fields.
Television cameras, boom microphones, reporters and photographers followed Pondexter as he bounced from interview to interview inside the Hilton Hotel during the conference’s men’s basketball media day on Thursday.
Finally, when almost all of the interviews were over, he had a moment to reflect on this day and the importance that he was chosen to represent the Pac-10 defending champion Huskies.
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After answering some of the zaniest questions imaginable — somebody asked when he had his first kiss — Pondexter knew this was exactly where he was meant to be.
A year ago, Jon Brockman sat where Pondexter was sitting and answered the same questions. And before Brockman, it was Brandon Roy.
Now it’s Pondexter, a 21-year-old senior who inherited a Huskies team picked to finish second in the Pac-10 by conference writers, 13th nationally in the USA Today poll and 14th in The Associated Press rankings.
“I feel at this time, at this point in my career, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be the guy because I’ve been through it all,” said the 6-foot-6 forward. “I’ve been through the ups. I’ve been through the downs. Right now I really feel it’s going to be a successful season for myself and the team.”
The Huskies are Pondexter’s team now. Or at the very least, he’s co-owner with sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas.
After a dazzling freshman year, a rocky sophomore season when he started nine games and considered transferring and the bounce-back junior season in 2008-09, Pondexter is entrenched as one of Washington’s stars.
His face is everywhere. On the UW media guide, pocket schedules and the cover of preseason college basketball magazines.
Pondexter, the Huskies’ top returning rebounder and second-leading scorer, says he’s waited a lifetime for the opportunity to lead the Huskies on and off the court.
He remembers when he was 6 years old, conducting mock interviews with his mother Doris, who would use a hair brush as a microphone.
“I’ve been practicing since I was a kid how to do interviews and how to handle the media,” Pondexter said. “I’ve watched other people and how they do it. I’ve studied the do’s and do not’s and how to represent yourself. You have to think beyond yourself because not only do you represent yourself, you represent your community, your family, your school and your team.
“Every time I watched basketball, I watched every part of it. I watched the pregame interviews and after-game interviews. I watched Michael Jordan and how he would handle his commercials. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to set myself up to be marketable and as good a person as possible. I take that part of basketball very seriously.”
Gonzaga series a “dead issue”
Romar responded to last week’s comment from Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who said the chances of renewing the UW-Zags series under the terms outlined in a Washington proposal “are about the same as Bigfoot having my baby.”
“Did it bother me? I wouldn’t say that,” Romar said. “I think in his mind he was just really trying to paint a picture of how slim a chance [there is] of it happening. I’d say that would probably be hard to happen, Bigfoot having his baby, I mean.”
The schools have not had meaningful talks about the game and Washington isn’t planning on revising its proposal.
“We move on at this point,” Romar said. “We haven’t had any other discussions. At this point, we’re not going to do it. So there’s no game. It’s a dead issue at this point.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org