NORTHRIDGE, CALIF. ---
Cal State Northridge junior Stephen Maxwell recently sat down with the CSUN media relations staff to talk about the upcoming 2013-14 season and his first year working with new Matador head coach Reggie Theus.
Last year, Maxwell averaged 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game en route to All-Big West Honorable Mention honors.
The Matador Minute: Congratulations on your positive contributions to Matador basketball the past two seasons. Josh Greene and Stephan Hicks seem to get most of the headlines, but you have quietly put together two excellent seasons, and your junior campaign promises to be one that will be even better.
“I missed the first five games of the season during my freshman season because of some injuries but I didn’t let that stop me. I wasn’t a big name in high school but the CSUN coaching staff took a chance on me. The opportunity gave me a chance to work hard, play hard, and show people what I could do.”
The Matador Minute: How would you describe your game? You seem to be a player who likes the contact and the physical play under the boards. You seem like a person who just loves to play the game of basketball.
“I think I’m a very physical and athletic player. I believe I can play both the small and power forward positions. I believe I can both score and rebound along with the ability to defend. I want to show my versatility in the Big West Conference.”
The Matador Minute: Last season (2012-13), you truly emerged as one of the best players not only on the team but also in the Big West Conference. Tell us the difference between your freshman season and an ever better sophomore campaign at Cal State Northridge.
“During my freshman season, I basically showed people what potential I had by competing and playing hard, and also learning all aspects of the game. Last year, it was a matter of hard work ”
The Matador Minute: You seem to love the physicality of the game; the ability not only to receive contact around the basket but also dishing out the punishment.
“I used to play football which is obviously a contact sport. Playing physical basketball doesn’t matter to me. I just like the competiveness of the game of basketball.”
The Matador Minute: Last year, Cal State Northridge was an undersized basketball team. How difficult was it knowing despite your 6-foot-7 frame, and weighing around 220 pounds, you and your Matador teammates had to compete each game against teams that were often bigger?
“Physically, my body got a little worn down. At the start of the season, I had put on a lot of muscle and more weight. As the season progressed, I lost a little weight, but I always continued to play with confidence to help the team as best I could.”
The Matador Minute: What parts of your game did you work on over the summer to help you for the upcoming season?
“I worked on my face-up game, and not be a one-dimensional player. I worked on increasing my shooting range so that I could be a tougher player for defenders to guard.”
The Matador Minute: You are left-handed. Does that make a difference in how people perceive you on the court?
“A lot of players are used to defending players who are right handed. Because I am left handed, opponents know that my initial move might be to the left. This year, I have been working on moves to the right which will make it more difficult for teams to defend me."
The Matador Minute: Because you are now a junior with two years experience in the Matador program, you will now be counted upon to be more of a leader on the team, particularly to the younger players on the court. Are you looking forward to that challenge?
“This year I want to make sure I communicate with everybody on the team. I want to be more of a vocal leader. I want to help everybody contribute to the team’s success.”
The Matador Minute: You’re a communications major. What are your future plans besides playing basketball in the years ahead?
“I am a very shy and reserved person but I am a pretty good public speaker. Someday I want to be a studio analyst to let people know who I am and what I want to say.”
The Matador Minute: When you watch the players in the NBA, who do you admire the most?
“LeBron James … He is 6-foot-8, 260-pounds. I don’t have his size but I hope to reach that size one day on the court. He can guard people at all positions on the guard. He can shoot; he can rebound; he can pass the ball; he is a vocal leader. You can’t ask for much more from LeBron James.”
The Matador Minute: Do you sit there sometimes and marvel at some of the things LeBron James does on the court?
“If I ever make it to the NBA one day, I still will always be a fan of LeBron James. He just simply amazes me what he is capable on the court. His style of play just makes you want to improve your own game.”
The Matador Minute: Academics are very important to yourself, your family and your friends. How proud are you that you are on course to getting your degree as a communications major?
“My mom already has three degrees on her wall which includes my sisters. She is waiting for me to add my college degree next to hers and theirs on that wall. There is a lot of pressure but this is something I want to do for myself and for my family. She reminds me everyday about the importance of an education. She is always asking me ‘are you doing what you’re suppose to be doing in school?’ … My response is always “yes, mom”. She cares more about education than anything. I really admire her for that.”
The Matador Minute: There is a positive buzz and high expectations about CSUN basketball this year amongst the student body and the community. What would you like to say to your classmates about coming out to the Matadome to support CSUN basketball?
“First of all, I want to thank our fans for their appreciation and their support in the past. I just want people to know that the team has worked very hard this summer. We have the talent to be successful. I’m asking fans to continue to support us again this year. I promise we won’t let them down.”