Checking in with Santa Clara Freshman James Rahon

March 4, 2009

Three of the five freshmen on the WCC All-Freshman team wear Bronco jersey's in their rookie campaigns: Santa Clara's own Kevin Foster, Marc Trasolini and James Rahon. All three continue to make quick work of the SCU freshmen records with all three climbing the top 10 lists of a number of categories and are on pace to break or tie at least seven freshman records.

Rahon is third on the team with 11.2 ppg. He has 1.4 apg, is shooting almost 79% from the free throw line and leads the team in three-point field %.Rahon has broken the three pointers made record (has 55, was 51); and is jockeying back and forth with two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash's Santa Clara freshman record for three point percentage. Nash shot 40.8% and Rahon is shooting 40.1% this season.

One of the top newcomers in the WCC, Rahon talked late last week about his freshman season, how the team makes fun of him for talking like a surfer even though he's not and who he admires in the NBA.

Has your season gone like you expected it would?

JR: That's a tough question. I am not sure what the right answer is. I would say it's gone pretty well. I started off a little slow trying to get the hang of everything and as I got use to things, it has gone better. I had a little slip-up when I got hurt at Pepperdine, but I've been trying to work hard to get ready for the Portland game and for the Tournament.

Have you had many injuries in the past?

JR: No, that was the first time in my career I had to sit out a game. This was the worst injury I have had. I have had broken bones in the past, but it was in the off-season. It was hard to sit there and watch the USF game. It was my first experience sitting out of a game and it's not one I want to revisit.

Does it make you hungry?

JR: Yeah, I think so. I felt like I was letting my team down not being able to play in a close game or to finish out the game vs. Pepperdine so I am hungrier to play the rest of the season.

How is college basketball different than high school basketball? Do you get fatigued at all because the college season is longer?

JR: The guys are a lot bigger, stronger and faster. The most difficult part is physically trying to get one step quicker and stronger and get use to playing against bigger guys. That's pretty much the main thing. Yes, there is some fatigue. I feel a lot sorer after practices because practices are intense so I feel a lot more tired. I have to sleep more now.

Since mid-January you have shot the ball really well. Why?

JR: I had a stretch where I wasn't shooting as well as I wanted to. Coach Keating and I decided to come in and shoot a few extra baskets and those were the games where I had career highs, it helped build my confidence and since then I have been shooting better.

Are you a shooter? A guy who needs a lot of reps in practice?

JR: Obviously you will shoot well with more reps. The more practice, the better. Practice makes perfect. I won't be as efficient at shooting the ball if I don't practice enough.

SCU: Coach Keating is tough on the freshmen. Has that helped you this season?

JR: Yes, it's helped me. He tries to get the most out of us so he is always pushing us to be the best players we can be. He is tough, but it really helps a lot. In the long run it will help us all. He wants us to be the best, knows what we are capable of and pushes us to the fullest.

You are one of the top freshmen in the league. Are you surprised?

JR: I came in Santa Clara because I knew would have a chance to make a big impact right away. I am not worried about stats, I am just trying to play my game.

When you shoot a three-pointer, what are you thinking?

JR: I first think `It's going in'. I think that every shot. When it doesn't, I think I am sure the next one is going in. I have always been that way. I have confidence in my shot on the court. Shooters shoot and I was always taught not to worry about a miss, just think about making the next one.

Who has been a big influence on your career?

JR: I have quite a few influences. My dad, my parents for sure. My dad is always practiced with me and introduced me to the game at a young age. My mom has always been there at games supporting me. And my high school coaches. My high school coaches, John Olive and Kelly Peters, were also really helpful. Coach Olive really got me ready for the next level and Kelly was always working me out and helping me become a better player in the off-season.

Kevin Foster is always joking you talk like a surfer. Thoughts?

JR: I don't surf. I did my freshman year of high school all summer, but I haven't surfed since. They always give me a hard time because they say I talk like San Diego people talk so they think it's funny.

Do you get nervous before games?

JR: When I was younger I did - maybe my freshman or sophomore years of high school, but it's grown on me. I love playing in front of a lot of fans and it doesn't effect me at all anymore. It just pumps me up and gets me more ready to play.

Your nickname is Jimmy. Any others?

JR: No, I have been called Jimmy by my high school coaches throughout my career. A couple people here call me Jimmy, but it's just a common nickname for James.

You watch the NBA a lot. As far as NBA players, is there anyone you would consider a role model?

JR: My favorite player is Kirk Hinrich. I really like the way he plays; and he is really smooth out there. He's the type of player I try to play like.

Who is the toughest person you've guarded this year? If you played him again, anything you would do differently?

JR: That's a tough question. The dude from Stanford, Anthony Goods. He was tough. How would I play him different now? I would try harder to deny him the ball - from catching the ball. I wouldn't go for all his fakes, he got me pretty good a couple times.

What's been your favorite game as a team? And then, individually?

JR: As a team, the Cable Car Classic was probably our best experience because it's always good to win a championship and those were some pretty crazy games. To come back from a big deficit and then beat a really good team in overtime in the finals.

Individually, probably the San Diego game there. There were a bunch of friends and family there to see me play and that was great. They finally got to see me play in a Santa Clara uniform. So that was fun going back home.

How much fun is it being one of the freshmen? Any good freshmen stories about the guys?

JR: How much fun is it being a freshman, shoot. It's fun because you finally get to live on your own and experience life without your parents, but you finally have to grow up some. It is what I thought it would be. I don't have a lot of stories, but we are together a lot.

Go Broncos!