I had the chance to sit with Sam Beeler, Alan Williams and Mitch Brewe yesterday at practice and got to know them a little better. The big men of the UCSB basketball team certainly have had unique experiences in Santa Barbara due to their height and status as basketball players. Get to know the players that represent our university on the court and give this a read!
What’s your favorite thing about going to UCSB?
Beeler: I personally love all the people here. There’s such a diverse group of people here. I honestly don’t think I’ve met someone who has been mean to me at all, so everyone is really friendly and really welcoming which I love, especially moving away from home; that’s a big thing.
Williams: It’s definitely really comfortable here. You go around and you can just hang around with basically anybody, have a good time on weekends and have a good time in class. It’s challenging enough for it to be difficult, but it’s also easygoing enough for you to have a good time and enjoy your college experience.
Brewe: The people know how to have a good time but still are smart and kick ass in school. Which is crazy because it’s such a good academic university even though it’s Isla Vista and all that crazy stuff going on … to still be academically focused, that’s pretty cool too. And the beach, too! It’s awesome being around the beach.
Has there been a funny incident or something unusual that happens to you because you’re tall?
Brewe: I ride my long board everywhere and this tiny Asian girl riding her long board got so indecisive when she saw me coming, she just totally bailed out and fell into the grass and I was literally like five feet away from her and not going to hit her whatsoever. She literally just tumbled into the grass with her backpack and everybody was like, “What just happened?” I think I kind of intimidated her off her skateboard a little bit.
Williams: Spider webs suck when you’re big and tall. Another thing is when you walk around, everybody looks up at you and stares in awe. You just get a whole bunch of crazy looks all the time.
Beeler: My shower at home is terrible. I bend down in it all the time and I end up just sitting in it. The most common thing is I’ll be sitting in class next to someone, and I’ve already been sitting in there prior to them coming in, so we’re just talking or whatever and class ends and I get up and they’re like, “Oh my God, like, you’re huge. I didn’t realize it when you were sitting down.”
Do people usually ask you about your height?
Williams: Everybody asks me, “Can I ask you a question?” It’s just like, yeah of course, I already know what you’re going to ask: “How tall am I?” So, you just tell them, “6’8”.” And they’re like, “Oh my God, that’s so tall.” They ask us how tall we are all the time. You should see Sam in airports, it’s ridiculous. Sam in an airport gathers so much attention because he’s 6’11”. He’s just huge and everybody will ask him how tall he is.
Beeler: And then it’s all the jokes that you’ve heard before too. I know some people get offended by it or whatever, but for me I just try to be nice about it. I’m so used to it at this point it doesn’t even bother me. It’s just another thing.
What’s your favorite part about being a basketball player?
Williams: I’d say it’s the travel for me. I’ve been so many places thanks to just playing basketball in general; just places I’d never imagined going. Sometimes it’s a bad thing that I’m in the middle of nowhere, Northern Illinois or something like that. A lot of times you get to go to a lot of places like Hawaii, Seattle, Salt Lake (City), Louisiana. It’s awesome to be able to experience that, especially with people that you actually like being around too.
Brewe: This is going to be corny, but I kind of like representing the school, like being a part of something bigger, you know. Being a part of the university and being kind of a face of the university, and hopefully we can set a good example and be a good part of the legacy here. I think that’s pretty cool.
Is it tough balancing being a normal college student while being a student athlete?
Williams: There’s no “normal” being a college student when you’re an athlete because it’s just so time-consuming. But you get to do the simple stuff sometimes. It’s good when you have a couple days off and you can relax and go to the beach or relax and go hang out with your friends. But a lot of times our focus is always on getting better every day. We spend countless hours shooting in the gym or lifting and stuff like that. In everything we do, we try to incorporate how it’s going to make us a better player, and if that means we can go and hang out on the side, that’s a good thing. We put our sports and our academics first all the time.
Beeler: That’s the thing about being a student athlete; you have to figure out the balance and time management, that’s a big thing.
Williams: Mitch is like a super smart, A-plus student so he can tell you all about that.
Brewe: Finding the time for homework is the hardest. You get home from practice and you just want to lie in your bed and not do a thing. I just want to sleep. But you have to get home and you have to be like, “In 10 minutes I’m going to open this damn book and I’m going to read.” Really just committing yourself is pretty tough. Like these guys said, it’s time consuming but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you guys ever get a chance to go out on DP and do you go as a team?
Williams: All the time, definitely. We hang out a lot, especially on the weekends when we get a couple of days off if we don’t have practice the next day we’ll go out and enjoy ourselves out there. But we always know there are consequences with doing that kind of stuff. We’re seen as, like you said, someone other than just a normal college student and whatever we do represents our team and our university in either a positive or negative way. When we’re out there, we do it in a smart way and we’re always safe.
Tell UCSB students why they should come out and watch you play Long Beach on Thursday.
Williams: It’s fun; it’s a great energy. You see a fast-paced kind of sport. We’re up and down, we’re dunking the ball and three-point shots — all that kind of stuff. It’s a lot of intensity and it’s a lot of tradition that goes into UCSB basketball. We put in a lot of hard work for this university, so it’d be great to have them come out and support us.
Beeler: It’s fun for us when we get big crowds like that and hopefully it’s fun for them to come and be a big crowd. We’re super grateful for the people who do come out and it’s just awesome when they do.
Williams: And it’s on TV too. Be on SportsCenter.
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of January 15th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.