Oct. 30, 2007
Last year South Carolina had two rookies on NBA rosters including Tarence Kinsey (Memphis Grizzlies) and Renaldo Balkman (New York Knicks). This season they will be joined in the NBA by another former Gamecock, forward Brandon Wallace (BW) of Jackson, S.C.
Wallace is on the opening day roster of the Boston Celtics after signing a free agent contract this past summer. Wallace finished his career in March as the Gamecocks all-time leading shot-blocker with 249 blocks in his four years that included a visit to the 2004 NCAA Tournament and the 2005 and '06 NIT titles. He was named to the Honorable Mention All-SEC list his senior year.
Gamecocksonline (GO) spoke to Wallace, via cell phone in Boston, on Monday. The Celtics open their 2007-08 vs. the Wizards on Fri., Nov. 2.
GO: Congratulations on making the Celtics Opening Day roster. Are you surprised?
BW: It's really exciting. It was a lot of hard work and little bit of luck.
GO: There is a lot of sports energy in Boston right now with the Sox and Patriots doing so well. Have you gotten caught up in that yet or are you too busy working on your basketball skills?
BW: Boston is a great sports city with the Patriots and the Red Sox. The Celtics have 41 home games already sold out - all of them. I have been to four Patriots games, but no Red Sox games yet. It's too cold for me to go to a baseball game.
I love Boston. It's cold - really cold, but there is so much history here. Beacon Hill is real nice. It's just too cold!
GO: The Celtics have some very good veterans in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. How is it playing with them on a daily basis?
BW: It's great. From Kevin Garnett all the way down to me - the rookie. Everyone gets along like a big family. We have three huge superstars in those three guys and after being around them a few days you realize they are human, too. They really help all of us out on and off the court. From helping us with suits to eating the right food. They have been very helpful. They are here to win.
GO: Your team also includes Glen Davis (LSU) and Rajon Rondo (Kentucky) - guys you played against the last few years. Is it nice to see those former rivals in your lockerroom now?
BW: It sure is! We are always talking about the SEC. We talk a lot our football teams. USC lost to LSU, but beat Kentucky and then Kentucky went and beat LSU. We are always talking sports - especially to the Pac-10 guys on the team (guys from Cal and Southern California). We let them know that the SEC is the best and there is no comparison.
GO: Have you learned anything from the veterans in camp?
BW: That hard work always pays off. Kevin Garnett is a very hard worker and is where he is now because of that. He doesn't take his talent for granted. Garnett played for 12 years, Ray Allen for 12 years and Paul Pierce for 10 years. The average NBA career is four years - so that's a long time. They've been through so much, but they all work hard.
GO: What did you learn at South Carolina that helped you make the Celtics team?
BW: To always be on time. To be disciplined. To listen. To make sure you pay attention in practice all the time. I learned a lot from Coach Odom.
GO: Do you have any messages for the team this year - the Gamecocks?
BW: Work hard! And please beat Southern California! There is a lot of trash talking going on with the other Celtics players from the Pac-10 - we need to represent.
GO: What about to your friends and family back in South Carolina?
BW: Please tell them I am not surprised I made it. It was something I wasn't worried about, but it's a blessing. Most people don't get this chance. I will work hard and make the most of it!
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