Oct. 27, 2005
BERKELEY, Calif. - CalBears.com caught up with freshman point guard Alexis Gray-Lawson a week before the team's Nov. 2 exhibition game against the San Francisco Bay Area Pro Am. Gray-Lawson and Cal teammate Devanei Hampton both were named 2005 McDonald's All-Americans after leading Oakland Tech to its second consecutive state title. Gray-Lawson discusses her adjustment to college basketball, her teammates and her interest in poetry.
How have preparations for the start of the season gone for you?
"It's going pretty well. I'm just trying to stay focused with all of the hype going around Cal basketball."
How well have you adjusted to college basketball?
"At first, it was a little hard. But after time, I got more adapted to the environment that I'm in. I'm doing a lot better."
What strengths do you feel you bring to the team this year?
"My biggest strength is leadership. I try to be a leader on and off the court. As far as abilities go, I can get to the hole. I can get past anybody. That's probably one of the biggest things you need from a guard."
Has junior point guard Sarah Pool been a big help to you?
"Sarah and I have one of the most genuine relationships on the team. Most people are fighting for spots to get on the court. For us, it's not about that. I understand that if she gets on the court before I do, it's because she's better than me in some aspects. Some of the weaknesses that I have she is great at. Her weaknesses I'm great at. We try to help each other at all times, definitely at practice."
What are your impressions of Coach Boyle?
"I've gotten a chance to know her and believe that she's a very good coach. She helps us all work on our strengths, instead of trying to limit us from doing certain things. Some coaches try to limit what you do. Coach Boyle wants you to be the best that you can be at whatever position she knows your strength is."
What else makes Coach Boyle stand out from other coaches you've had?
"She's my first female coach. I've always had male coaches. Coach Boyle is always around to help me with things - relationship problems or school. You can always talk to her about anything. You can talk to any of the coaches about anything. That's a great thing about the coaching staff."
Is playing with your childhood friend, Devanei Hampton, living up to your expectations so far?
"As kids, I would have never thought that Devanei and I would be in the position we are right now. We argued so much when we were kids. Now that we've gotten older, we've become best friends and very close. Our families are very close. We decided that coming to school together would be the best thing for both of us, and it would be an easier adjustment to college. Everybody looks at us like we're sisters on the team. Devanei and I can count on each other for anything. We're always together off the court."
How has the team responded to the news that Jessica Lawson would miss the season with an ACL injury?
"We all realized when Jessica went down how important she was. Usually you look at players and you say that they're going to help your team, but you don't understand how they're really going to help your team until they're out. We see our weaknesses at this point. We realize all of our roles have gotten bigger."
It's less than a week until your first game in a Cal uniform. Tell me about the anticipation you're feeling.
"I'm a little nervous. In high school when I was in the ninth grade, I remember throwing up before the first game because I was so nervous. I feel like I have the same edge. I actually did well in my first high school game. I'm hoping we can all come out and show the fans what we can do. We have five freshmen who are all local and who will have their own cheering sections. It's going to be incredible."
What do you enjoy doing besides playing basketball?
"I'm big on poetry. Shantrell (Sneed) and I are into poetry. I love hanging out with my teammates. One of the best things I can do is to be around my teammates because there's so much I learn from them each day. You have your best friends, and I have a cousin on the team, Jessica. We just found that out. Poetry is something you can always do. You go through so much as you get older. You want to write it down. For a lot of people that grow up in urban areas, it's like that."