Dec. 21, 2010
The competition among high school basketball players to become Division I college players is fierce. As a player at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Calif., Jordan Weiner experienced that.
As a high school senior, Weiner averaged 18 points per game and set a Birmingham record with 74 three-point baskets. He earned First Team All-West Valley League honors.
Still, he wasn't recruited.
"I wasn't really recruited out of high school and I was accepted based on my academics," Weiner recalled. "But I love the game and I felt that I could play in college."
So, when he got to UCSB he tried out for the basketball team and made it as a walk-on. But making the team as a walk-on was only the first step, competing at a Division I level was another challenge. Weiner parlayed his passion for basketball and his willingness to work hard into becoming an asset to the team.
In the four and a half years since he arrived in Santa Barbara, Weiner has become a key component for the Gauchos. Last year, he was a starter the second half of the season as the team won the Big West regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Weiner's emergence physically, and in terms of his basketball skills, has been impressive. As a redshirt in 2006-07, he simply wasn't ready to play Division I basketball.
"When I got here, I was small and scrawny and not physically able to compete," Weiner said. "The hardest part for me was getting my body physically fit."
Weiner struggled with his physical appearance. His body shape didn't resemble the average basketball player who had a quick jump shot or the ability to drive strong to the basket. But the redshirt year gave him the opportunity to increase his physical strength as well as improve his game. Weiner knew that hard work was his only option if he had any hope of becoming a college basketball player.
"I had to work extremely hard to play with the guys on the team," he said. "After practice everyday I would be in the weight room lifting to get stronger and also working on my jump shot. I had to work extremely hard just to be average."
"He really put the time and work in," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "He made himself into a player and he's become an important part of this team."
Weiner needed to increase his knowledge of the game as well. It simply wasn't at the level it needed to be.
"I wanted to expand and get a better basketball IQ," he said. "I wanted to be able to read the game and see things before they happened."
Weiner has done just that and now excels in many ways. He currently ranks third on the team in three-point baskets, second in steals and tied for second in assists. Ultimately, however, it's all about winning games.
"The biggest goal that I have (for the team) is fulfilling our potential because everyone has been throwing so many things out there of what we can do and what we should do," Weiner said. "It doesn't mean anything if we don't work hard now because this is where it starts. If we can live up to the potential of the hype then were going to be a great team."
A political science major, Weiner is a Golden Eagle Award-winner, a two-time Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete honoree and an Academic All-Big West selection. As he closes in on the end of his senior season, he knows there are no guarantees his basketball career will continue. However, basketball didn't give Weiner the opportunity to be a Gaucho, academics did. He hopes to continue his education in law school once he graduates.
"People always told me that I have a big mouth and I like to argue a lot and law would be a good career for me and that's what made me decide what I should pursue," he said. "That was kind of like my thing, going to law school.
And, if Weiner approaches his career in law with the same dedication that he has his basketball career, success will most likely result.
We asked Jordan to take some time to answer a few questions.
1. What are your favorite things to do?
2. What is your favorite class at UCSB?
3. What will you miss most about the life at UCSB after you graduate?
4. Where is your favorite place to eat in Isla Vista? Naan Stop.
5. If you were stranded on an island, what two things would you like to have with you? A raft with oars and food.
6. Which super power would you like to have? Why?
7. Who is your favorite Professor at UCSB?
8. What is one thing people do not know about you...until now?
9. When you had your long hair, how did you feel when you had to cut it?
10. When you walk the stage on your graduation day, what will you do?
11. Do you have any pre-game rituals?
12. If you won the lotto what will be the first thing you do with your money?
13. If MTV made a show about you, what would it be about? Who would play you?
14. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
15. If you could take the place of any athlete and be that person for a week, who would it be?
16. Do you have any role model(s)? Who?
17. If you were a Greek God, who which one would you be? What would you give the world?
18. During finals or midterms, where would you go study?
19. What is the perfect meal to you?
20. If you could hang out with anyone in history, who would it be? Ghandhi