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Q&A with Bruin Guard Ray Young
By: UCLA Athletics
Although Ray Young's individual statistics are impressive, his main concern is team success. Now a junior, he is in position to establish himself as a true leader of this Bruin team. During the past two seasons he has learned what it takes to balance both school and basketball, and his goal is to succeed at both.

Why did you choose to attend UCLA?
Basically, I just liked the atmosphere of the college and of L.A., as well as the weather. Also, I came from a small high school, so I liked the idea of a big campus with a lot of people. As far as basketball, I was attracted to the tradition and history of the program. This school just offered the greatest opportunity for me.

You attended the same high school as NBA all-star Jason Kidd. Did his legacy influence you or add any additional pressure for you to succeed?
There was never any pressure about proving who was the best player to come out of the Bay Area. If anything, he helped me to improve my game. He would come to practice and work out with us. When we talked, he always encouraged me to do well.

The two of you also shared the same coach, Frank LaPorte, who died prior to your senior season. What did he teach you about life on and off the court?
I still think about Coach LaPorte all the time. Of all the coaches that I have had, he was by far the best. I was always respected and admired him, not just for basketball, but for the kind of person he was. He was like a second father to me in high school. There were a lot of things that he tried to teach me that I did not always fully understand when I was younger. Now that I am getting older and a little wiser, I can see why he pushed me so much and was so hard on me. He just wanted me to be a better player and person.

What are your personal and team goals for the season?
Of course, my team goal is to get to the Final Four. We always seem to have the talent to do this. Hopefully this year if we work together and focus on winning, and not individual accomplishments, I think that it can happen. Personally, my goal is to help the team in any way. Whether they need me to score, play defense, or rebound. I will do whatever it takes.

As an upperclassman what do you feel you can teach the younger members of the team?
I think the main thing that I can teach them is to stay focused, and to remember why they are here. Freshmen year can be overwhelming, and it can sometimes feel like you do not have time for everything. I just want to show them that this is the year that you want to start to build your work habits for the next four that you are here. If you do this, balancing school and basketball will become easier. The best advice is to stay focused, because there are many distractions in college.

What has been your favorite class at UCLA?
I enjoy the African American Studies classes. I would have to say that my favorite one would be a sociology class taught by Professor Hill. It was about the black community, and being from Oakland I found it familiar material. After living in Westwood, you sometimes lose sight of things, and those classes help you to remember and understand the situation of certain places.

Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
I'm not too superstitious, but on game days I do try to stay near the gym. I don't like to go home, because I think that it is good luck to stay close to the court and the basketball gods. Actually, it just keeps you reminded and focused on what you have to do later. If you stay in the gym you can't get any distracting phone calls and your pager is not going off.

What professional player do you model you game after?
Definitely Ray Allen of the Bucks. He played Jesus Shuttlesworth, in the movie He Got Game, and my friends gave me the name Ray Jesus. I like to model my game after him, because he is so laid-back and makes everything look so easy. He's not flashy, he just loves the game.

What has been your most memorable basketball moment?
I would have to say it was in high school when we played Vallejo in the playoffs. That was the last win that I had with Coach LaPorte. The whole team had a good game, and we were able to beat them pretty well. It meant a lot more, because it was the last win that he coached.

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