SANTA CLARA, Calif. - SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) recently spoke with highly touted basketball newcomer Nici Gilday, who was a McDonalds All-America nominee and the San Jose Mercury News 'Senior of the Year' last season while at Presentation High School. She discusses playing college ball in her hometown, the strengths of her game and what type of players she looks up to.
SCB: As a San Jose native and arguably the best high
school player in the South Bay last year, what does it mean to you
to be staying close to home, attending Santa Clara and playing for
NG: It means a lot to me to be able to play so close to home. I get to experience the best of both worlds. My family is close by and I can see them often, but I am still able to be independent and experience college on my own. The greatest part is that my family and friends will be able to attend my games. Their support means so much, and it motivates me to keep working hard.
SCB: You scored a game-high 16 points in the CCS
championship game last season at the Leavey Center. In that game
you faced teammate to-be Vanessa Leo,
talk about playing on your future home floor and facing future
teammates in huge games.
NG: It was exciting to play on my future home court for the biggest game of the season last year. After we won the championship, I was extremely happy, and I couldn't help but think of how excited I will be to win another championship with SCU on the same court in the future. Playing against Vanessa that night was fun too. We have played against each other since we were in middle school and I had usually been the one on the other side, so it was nice to win the last one :)
SCB: What do you think you do well on the court? What is the strongest part of your game?
NG: That I bring consistency to both ends of the floor. I take pride in playing great defense both on and off the ball. I have a solid mid-range game that will hopefully bring an added dynamic to the team. Also, the intangibles and little things are important to me, like setting a good screen, blocking out, or creating opportunities for my teammates. They might not show up in the stats but they are still very important to the success of the team.
SCB: What kind of players/teammates do you most enjoy playing with? Have you seen some of those traits in your new SCU teammates thus far?
NG: I most enjoy playing with humble and hardworking players. I have seen these traits in all of my teammates so far, especially Alyssa (Shoji). She is our leader and she sets a great example for everyone else. She works very hard and sets a high standard for the whole team.
SCB: You graduated from Presentation with a 4.1 cum GPA and are studying in Santa Clara's Leavey School of Business. What are some classes or parts of your education here at SCU that you are most looking forward to?
NG: I'm looking forward to being in the Business School because all of the classes are relevant and will help me in the future.
SCB: What caught your eye on our 2011-12 schedule that was released recently and how are you preparing for a full season of Division I hoops.
NG: It is hard to pick one game that caught my eye. I am especially looking forward to home games - we have to win at home! I was taught to defend my home court and I'm excited to play in front of fans and family. I'm also excited to play Gonzaga and UC Davis, the NCAA tournament teams.
SCB: Who is someone that has had a big influence on your athletic development this far?
NG: My high school/AAU coach had a big influence on my athletic development. He really prepared me for Division 1 basketball both mentally and physically. I still have so much to learn, but he made sure I would come in with a solid foundation.
SCB: What basketball player do you look up to and/or style your game after?
NG: I look up to the Celtics. I love the team chemistry, and style that the team plays. The main guys KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rondo are all stars, but they are all willing to check their egos and sacrifice in order to benefit the team. I especially like Rondo. I love how unselfish and fearless he is. He is such a great passer, creator, and defender.