Reconnaissance Mission: UCLA Junior Guard, Spencer Soo

Spencer Soo interview pic for site copy
For the next in our series of opposing player interviews, called “Reconnaissance Mission,” I had the opportunity to speak with Spencer Soo, a 5’8″ guard from UCLA. Soo will be starting his junior season this year, playing again as a walk-on. Soo only appeared in six games last season, but is a fan favorite at Pauley Pavilion, in part at least for his ridiculous ability to do things like this. /

Montlake Madness: UCLA has had a lot of guys leave in the last couple of years for the NBA. Explain how this season’s team will have a different makeup than last year’s squad.

Spencer Soo: Besides youth, there really isn’t any change in the team’s makeup. Our coaches do a great job recruiting all around great guys. The team is still the same UCLA players as far as hustle, toughness, heart, and passion.

MM: Who are the two or three guys that need to have big years for UCLA to compete for the Pac-10 title?

SS: As you already know, it’s going to take team effort to capture the Pac-10 title. Leadership from our seniors Roll, Keefe, and Dragovic is a must considering we are a young team. But I am expecting great things out of sophomore Malcolm Lee and freshman Mike Moser.

MM: Who’s been the freshman to impress you the most so far when you’ve played together this off-season?

SS: I actually just got back from a trip to Seattle this past summer. I visited my friend Quincy Pondexter and I got to play with a lot of previous Huskies.

I am impressed with them all (our freshmen). They all have an intense passion for the game and are very competitive. However, I am most impressed with Moser and Reeves Nelson.

MM: Malcolm Lee is a guy who didn’t put up big numbers last season, but is becoming a trendy pick to challenge for a spot on the all-conference team. Explain why his potential is so great.

SS: Malcolm is a special player. He kind of reminds me of another Russell Westbrook. Russ didn’t put up the best numbers or even minutes his first year, and look what happened after his second. Malcolm has worked hard over the summer in the weight room and in the gym, and it is paying off. He will be an explosive player for us.

MM: You’ve got ridiculous hops for a shorter guard. I know your playing time was limited during your first two seasons, but have you gotten a chance to throw down in a game yet?

SS: I have not yet tried to throw one down. To me, two points is two points. Although, I feel if I were to dunk in a game, it would end up on Sportscenter: “5’8″ walk-on dunks.” I am not really worried about getting one though, I’m just excited to be on the floor representing UCLA.

MM: I would imagine that every player wants to earn more time on the floor. You may have an opportunity to play a little more just by virtue of what some feel is a lack of depth at the PG position. What do you need to do personally to earn more time on the floor?

SS: I have to keep working hard. It’s simple. But for the most part, my role the past couple of years has been to make my teammates better in practice.

MM: Do you have aspirations to make basketball a career after school?

SS: Actually, I do. I do feel my height has its major disadvantages, and to play in the NBA would be awesome, but it’s not very realistic for me. After college, I will look into the Asian leagues. I just want to play basketball as long as I can — I love it. I will graduate with a degree from UCLA, and I understand the nine-to-five job will always be there; my athleticism won’t.

MM: There’s a lot of guys out there around 5’8″ who would love to be able to dunk — if for no other reason than to impress the ladies! — As someone who can, what can they do to increase their chances?

SS: I believe I can jump high due to all the stretching I’ve done in my life. I had 10 years under my belt with Tae Kwon Do, and I am very flexible.

So, my advice to anyone that wants to jump higher is to set attainable goals, stretch as often as possible, and practice jumping (play as much ball as possible).

MM: Tell me about playing for Ben Howland. Best thing? Worst thing?

SS: The best: He knows what he’s talking about, and has a passion for the game. His attention to detail is another thing that I admire.

The worst: His attention to detail points out our mistakes, but it’s only to make us better.

MM: Finally, do you guys currently on the team pay much attention to the recruiting stuff? For instance, UCLA and UW are duking it out for Josh Smith, a guy from up here near UW. Is that even on your radar, or do you just wait it out and see who your teammates will be when guys commit?

SS: We let the coaches handle the recruiting. We focus on the team that we do have, and build on the relationships that are in front of us.

MM: So, no awareness at all of the HS landscape?

SS: Not really.

Hey, thanks for coming!