Dec. 18, 2009
In 2008-09, UCSB basketball player James Powell had a tough season. Early in the year he was up-and-down, but he never consistently found his shooting touch.
In practice before the final weekend of the regular season, Powell took an elbow in the face and suffered a fracture of the orbit of his right eye. He missed the final two regular season games - both wins. In his return for the Big West Tournament, Powell played sparingly and with a protective mask.
He looked more like The Phantom of the Opera than a sharpshooting guard who, one year earlier, set a school record for three-point field goal percentage at 46.7%, averaged 12.3 points per game and was named Honorable Mention All-Big West.
After his junior season, the Pomona, Calif., native rededicated himself. He worked countless hours in the gym to get his shot, and game, back. Powell knew that the Gauchos had an outstanding collection of talent in the backcourt and earning a place in the starting lineup wasn't going to be easy.
Not only has Powell returned to UCSB's starting lineup, his shot has also returned. Through six games, the senior was second on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game and he had made 15-of-28 three-point attempts, 53.6%. Powell made five three-pointers in a game against Loyola Marymount and six more against San Diego State.
"Obviously, last year was not the type of year I wanted or expected," Powell said. "In the off-season, I talked to Coach (Williams) about some things that would make me better and more coachable. I worked on the mechanics of my shot and other parts of my game."
Powell enlisted the help of his younger brother, Chris, to help him rediscover his shooting touch.
"I had my little brother waking up early in the morning and rebounding for me," Powell recalled. "He plays high school ball (Diamond Ranch) so he was okay with it. I would take hundreds of shots from all over, and I would always concentrate on mechanics and repetition. Doing things right."
How does Powell feel about his fast start to the 2009-10 season? In a way, it's a mixed bag.
It feels good, but not really good yet because we are early in the year," he said. "I've had a couple good games but I want to have a good year and not a few good games. I don't want to fall off the map. It hasn't paid off yet because we haven't gone through the season. I want us to make win the Big West and make the (NCAA) tournament. Then I can look back and say it was worth it."
James Powell took the opportunity to answer some questions about himself.
1. What is your favorite aspect of UCSB?
Note: Warren is a former UCSB women's basketball player and Powell's girlfriend.
2. In one word, describe this UCSB basketball team?
3. What has been your favorite class at UCSB?
Sociology 152 A
4. Who has been your favorite professor?
Professor Geoffrey Raymond
5. When you leave UCSB, what would you like to be remembered for.
"I don't worry about what people think about me when I'm gone. Hopefully I don't make too many enemies, but it's up to them."
6. What has been your greatest moment as a Gaucho?
"Being number two on ESPN's top-10 plays."
Note: Powell's last-second three-pointer defeated the Runnin' Rebels in a game at the Thunderdome in November of 2007.
7. Finish this sentence...."The one place in Isla Vista I can't live without is..."
8. Who has been your greatest role model?
9. What has been your biggest challenge in college?
"Sacrificing all of the temptations that the school has to offer. Everyone is always partying, the beach is right there. There is always something to do in Santa Barbara and because of practice or whatever, you just can't live the life of a non student-athlete."
10. Do you have a pre-game ritual?
"I say a prayer and shoot a lot of jump shots."
11. Is there a motto that you live by?
"Treat others how you want to be treated."
12. Who has been your most memorable teammates at UCSB?
"Alex (Harris), Ivan (Elliott), Cecil (Brown), Nedim (Pajevic), Chris (Devine), and Lance Hurdle."
13. Finish this sentence..."If I weren't playing basketball, I would be..."
"...playing a lot of video game."
14. What is one thing that most people don't know about you?
"I can say my ABC's backwards."
15. In all of your time at UCSB, what have you learned most about yourself?
"Sometimes I need to live for the moment. Not all the time, but sometimes I need to relax and live for the moment."