Sadly, we didn’t get to see as much of Wallace as we would’ve liked last year, but simply coming back was an amazing feat, as anyone who’s torn an ACL can attest to.
I caught up with Artem recently to talk a little bit about the future, and a little bit about the past as well. Here’s what we discussed:
Montlake Madness: So, let’s start with right now. What are you up to, both on and off the court?
Artem Wallace: I’m living with my dad in Toledo, saving some money and looking for work.
MM: What kind of work are you looking for?
AW: I want to do something international, because I’m bilingual and have an international background. (Wallace was born in Russia.)
MM: Have you been back to Russia?
AW: I haven’t, but it’s definitely on my list of things to do when I can.
MM: So, what about basketball? What are you hoping for?
AW: I’m hoping the opportunity is there for me to play somewhere. I’m passionate about the game, so hopefully there is. We’ll see.
MM: How’s the knee injury, and how much did it impact your play last season?
AW: The knee is fine now. But, just as it got better last season, my back started giving me problems. I think I have a bulging disc. It gets really sore and I have good days and bad days.
MM: Describe the disappointment of being limited by an injury during your senior season.
AW: Of course it was disappointing. But, I felt really rewarded to be on a winning team so it balanced out. It was a special experience, so it evens out in the end.
MM: Was your playing time ever a bone of contention with Coach Romar, where you felt you were ready to contribute more than he did?
AW: I understood it took me a while to get back from the knee, and then the back started acting up. I accepted the role and I was comfortable with that. You can never predict what’s going to happen with injuries.
MM: Describe your relationship with Lorenzo Romar? What’s it like to play for him?
AW: He’s just a great guy, a great mentor, great coach and teacher. It was a really special experience to play for him for four years.
MM: Tell us a little about Artem Wallace off the court.
AW: Right now, most of my time is focused on trying to find a job. I love hanging out with friends. I enjoy bowling. I play a lot of basketball with friends.
MM: Have you played in open gym with any of your former UW teammates?
AW: No, I’m in Toledo right now, so I’m playing with my high school friends.
MM: Who’s the toughest player you played against in college basketball?
AW: Aron Baynes (from WSU). He’s a big guy — just a truly physical player. It was a challenge to guard him and keep him away from the rim. I also had to guard Ryan Anderson (Cal) which was a nightmare. The toughest of all of them, though, was guarding Jon Brockman in practice.
MM: What was the highlight of your four years playing with the Huskies?
AW: That’s easy. Winning the Pac-10 championship at home against Wazzu. The crowd rushing the court… It was an unforgettable experience.
MM: What’s the worst memory?
AW: Going down with the ACL injury. I knew right away something was wrong. I heard something pop. When they told me, I was really down.
MM: Tell me something I wouldn’t know about the life of a D-1 college ballplayer.
AW: Well, it’s such a time commitment. It’s really a full time job. You can’t take some of the classes you want to; you have to sacrifice a lot. It requires a lot of discipline and time management. A lot of the time you wake up in the dark, hit the weight room, have your classes and practice, and by the time you come home, it’s dark again. But, it’s totally worth it. It’s a huge rush playing in front of the crowd, particularly when the team is doing well.
MM: Having played with everyone except the incoming freshman, who do you expect to have a breakout season for the Huskies this year?
AW: It’s hard to predict. There are so many great athletes on the team. Isaiah will continue to improve. And, Quincy is going to be the leader of the team, I think.
MM: What about the guys who didn’t put up big numbers last year? Any of them you expect to potentially have a break-out year?
AW: I think Scott Suggs is going to be a good player. But, all of these guys are great. You really can’t predict.
MM: I think I can predict your answer, but who wins the Pac-10 this season?
AW: I’m going with UW. I’ve gotta go with UW.
MM: Who’s going to be the toughest challenger?
AW: UCLA’s going to be tough. They’re always tough.
MM: Thanks for your time, Artem, and best of luck.
Hey, thanks for coming!