STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Eric Strangis

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Each week, we shift the emphasis to the left side of the hyphen to engage in conversation with a Trojan scholar athlete.

Strangis practice drive.JPGName: Eric Strangis

Sport: Men's Basketball

Class: Junior

Major: Sociology

GPA: 3.07

Jordan Moore (JM): You grew up close to campus, but you had to go to two schools (Moorpark College and Cal Lutheran) to get here.  Was your goal always to be a Trojan?

Eric Strangis (ES): I wouldn't say it was always my goal to be a Trojan, but it has always been something I have dreamed about.  I think that going to two other schools before getting here has given me a special appreciation for just how great USC is.  It's been a long journey, but I wouldn't change a thing.

JM: Your grandfather, Sam Nicholson, was a USC track star, who is still involved with the program.  What does he say is the biggest difference from when he went to school here and how it is now?

ES: My grandfather used to have an on-campus job of trimming hedges by the new campus center.  They recently removed the hedges to open up more room for tailgaters.  I'm sure it isn't the biggest difference, but the removal of those hedges led my grandfather to share some fun memories of his college days.

Strangis-CalLu.jpgJM: What was your mindset when you decided to walk-on to the USC basketball team? 

ES: I had no expectations when I decided to walk-on to the basketball team.  I was really just excited and grateful to be a part of such a great tradition and to play at such a high level.  I wasn't concerned with playing time or anything like that.  The thing that people forget is that we practice more than we play.  My focus was on doing whatever I could to help the team in practice in order to help us win and more importantly on being a great teammate.

JM: Sure enough though, you were tossed into the fray at Nebraska and TCU.  How nervous were you?

ES: When I was put into the game, I didn't even have time to be nervous.  At the time, I was just concerned with doing my job and trying to help the team win.  Looking back though, it was a pretty awesome experience.

trillion.jpgJM: I have you down as earning one trillion (Note: A trillion is when the box score reads 1 in the minutes column and zeroes in the 9 other columns) so far this year.  Do the walk-ons joke about at least taking a foul to make sure they get something in the box score?

ES: All the walk-ons definitely have a good time joking about the box score when we get the opportunity at some minutes. The conversation usually turns into a debate on who was open when the other guy took a shot (all in fun, of course). In truth, we are all competitors.  We want to perform to the best of our abilities when we get our minutes just like any other guy.

JM: Who is the biggest trash talker on the team?

Donte-yell.jpgES: Donte Smith.  He isn't always talking trash.  But he is always, ALWAYS saying something.

JM: Better walk-on dream: Hitting the game-winning shot to beat UCLA or earning a scholarship?

ES: My parents would probably want me to say "scholarship" to help pay for the tuition.  But I don't think anything can compare to hitting a game-winning shot at this level, especially if it is to beat the Bruins.

JM: I read you are interested in becoming a firefighter when you graduate.  What inspired that?

ES: My uncle is a firefighter, and I have a lot of respect for him and what he does.  I have always been interested in the profession.  It requires a lot of the same skills as athletics: being physically fit, teamwork, pulling for a collective goal.  It also has the added benefit of being a job that helps others.  I don't think you could ask for anything more when contemplating what you would want to do on a day-in and day-out basis.

JM: Can I get a score prediction for Sunday night against UCLA (7:30 p.m. at Galen Center)?

ES: If you're looking for a score, check in with Vegas.  But I will predict that we are going to play great defense and with 100 percent effort.  And that usually leads to a win.

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