UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: UA walk-ons have no regrets

Seniors Wiepking, Crawford want to seek careers in basketball
2013-03-09T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:28:04Z Arizona basketball: UA walk-ons have no regretsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For 73 regular-season games over four years, Pac-12 opponents have had to deal with Solomon Hill.

The matchup problems he can present inside. His intensity. His rebounding, His improving shooting. And his court awareness.

But that's nothing compared to Max Wiepking's everyday existence.

He's a UA walk-on forward on the Wildcats' scout team.

"I feel like I've been guarding him for last four years," Wiepking said. "I'm getting kinda sick of it."

For this last season, Wiepking received an added treat. Sometimes UA switches around the assignments for its scout team, and Wiepking gets stuck on center Kaleb Tarczewski.

Talk about mismatches. Tarczewski is 7-0 and 255 pounds. Wiepking is 6-6, 220.

"That's not the most fun to be guarding Kaleb down there," Wiepking said.

Of course, spending four years as a walk-on is rarely supposed to be fun. It's about hard work in practice, rarely taking your warmups off during a game, and receiving almost zero recognition - except for those rare moments when you're invited into a lopsided game for a few seconds or minutes.

But you won't hear complaints from Wiepking or fellow senior walk-on Quinton Crawford, who will be honored as part of UA's postgame senior day ceremony today after the UA-ASU game.

"There's so many people who would love to be in the position we're in," Crawford said. "We got the opportunity, and we're trying to do the best we can. This whole experience has been unbelievable."

Crawford, the son of Shaquille O'Neal's bodyguard, arrived two years ago after playing junior college in New Jersey. Wiepking was connected to the Wildcats out of high school in Colorado through a representative of former Wildcat Kyryl Natyazhko.

From there, coach Sean Miller found they both added value to the UA program.

"Q is a great kid, a terrific student and someone who's very well respected within our team," Miller said. "Max smiles every day and does everything we ask of him. He really is never ever worried about playing in a game; that's why he embodies all those qualities you want in a walk-on.

"That may sound simple, but a walk-on sounds a lot better prior to becoming a walk-on than it really is. I don't know if anybody's asked to do more with less recognition than those guys."

During an interview this week, Crawford and Wiepking discussed their experiences.

Both received some interest from small schools but say they're glad they chose Arizona:

Crawford: "The town is definitely better and school-wise, I know people are going to kill me, but I definitely think it's way better than Rutgers. Definitely getting away from home was needed. And I love the school. It's been good to me."

Wiepking: "The weather's great. It's nice to get away from the snow and cold. And it's the same thing as with Q - I wanted to get out of Colorado. A lot of kids from my high school went to the University of Colorado. I wanted to sort of change things up and have a new experience."

Both are interested in basketball careers - Wiepking potentially in a front-office job and Crawford as a coach. What's next:

Wiepking: "I have to come back and finish a couple of classes. I want to learn to do some video stuff. I'll probably be here only one semester, so I'll call it an internship."

Crawford: "My mentor, (Miami) Heat assistant coach David Fizdale, has been kind of guiding me through. I don't know what I want to do yet, but I know after the season Danny Peters (UA's assistant operations director) told me he'd help me with video and learning how to scout before I go apply. I'm just learning and networking right now."

Wiepking has played in 17 career games over four seasons (he didn't get in any during UA's difficult 2009-10 season), and Crawford has played in seven. Their top memories:

Crawford: "When we played Utah at Utah last year (and Crawford played). It was important to me because they broadcast it on Fox Sports Net, and my family and coaches got to see it."

Wiepking: "Probably the one that stood out besides Duke (UA's Sweet 16 win in 2011), was the triple-overtime game at Cal (in 2010-11). That was crazy. Derrick (Williams) fouled out and at that point everyone thought we were just Derrick and Company. That sort of proved to everyone that we could play."

Individually, "it was the first basket against Idaho State (in 2010-11). Everyone was really happy for me."

There are things that will stick with both after their UA careers end. Such as:

Crawford: "Just the staff's work ethic. They're in all the time, always looking at film, developing a game plan that best suits us. It's the competitiveness they have. Coach Miller is super competitive, and he's willing to do anything to win."

Wiepking: "After every game Coach Miller always says, 'Nothing's as good as it seems, and nothing's as bad as it seems. You're easily replaceable if you're not working really hard. It's important to stay level-headed. Don't get down on yourself if things aren't going well. You can always pick it back up.' That's sort of one thing that's really hit me."

On StarNet: Join your fellow fans for a live chat on senior day, Arizona's last home game of the season live.azstarnet.com

sentencing delayed

A sentencing hearing for the man accused of attempted murder in connection with Arizona Wildcats forward Kevin Parrom was adjourned Friday to March 22 in Bronx (N.Y.) Supreme Court.

Jason Gonzalez, 21, pleaded guilty last month and, according to a Bronx court official, attorneys on both sides agreed on a six-year sentence that may also include time spent for an unrelated robbery case.

Gonzalez was arrested on Sept. 30, 2011, six days after Parrom was shot twice while with a female friend in his father's Bronx apartment during a visit home to visit his cancer-stricken mother. Gonzalez faced the attempted murder charge and four other charges.

Bruce Pascoe

Today

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
Delaware State at
Oregon
12/20 1:00 pm
Oklahoma at
Washington
12/20 7:00 pm
Stanford at
Texas
12/23 5:00 pm
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