After five seasons with the Bruins, Singleton’s time in Westwood is finally ending against Arizona State and Arizona.
UCLA men’s basketball guard David Singleton spoke with reporters ahead of Wednesday morning’s practice session at the Mo Ostin Basketball Center. Singleton talked about preparing for the final two home games of his collegiate career, his relationship with coach Mick Cronin over the years, how his leadership style has developed season-to-season and speaking with Gail Goodrich in Utah last weekend.
Coach Cronin said coach Howland was here earlier in the year talking about getting the No. 1 seed in the West – how much has that stuck with you and how much do you want that?
It stuck with us a lot. You know, I always remind the players, you know, we have more to play for. I’ve really thought this team is – that’s why every team is special, but this team, currently, you know, I feel like we can do great things with this team, with our combination of youth and experience. So I feel like it’s always been in the back of our heads, even though we take it one game at a time.
What are you feeling before your final two home games of your senior year?
I’m feeling I’m excited. You know, I don’t really have time to dwell on it, so I just have to get the guys ready, get myself ready and get the job done Thursday.
What’s the best thing about your team right now?
The best part of my team right now is probably the fact that we’re bought in. You know, I was a little scared in the summer that we have so many freshmen. Like, they’re amazing players – Amari, Adem, Dylan – and then kinda Will with his injury. But I’m really – I like the fact that we’re bought into what Cronin is telling us what to do. I kept telling the guys, you know, we know what it takes to win, Jaime know what it takes, Tyger knows what it takes. But for them to take it in and grow as players is really what we need and is why we got this far.
And there’s the trust factor there?
Yeah, we completely trust each other, 100%. You know, I tell Tyger, I tell Jaime, sometimes you gotta just trust, you know, their energy, whatever their plan is, trust the coach. Their trust is 100% all around, from the staff to the players.
What were your first impressions of coach Cronin and his process? Imagine it’s been difficult at times?
Um, I mean, I wouldn’t say difficult. The only difficult part was me being hurt when he came in, so I was like, ‘Damn, like who is this guy? I can’t even – you know, he has no idea what I can do.’ That was the only difficult part. And then as our relationship grew, I felt like he made me a better person off the court and a better player on the court, he always pushes me, he always tells me what I need to do to get minutes, get playing time or what the team needs to win. That’s what I like about coach. I think he’s an amazing person and an amazing coach.
What would you say to other players about returning for their extra COVID year in terms of what you got out of this year and what it meant to you?
Yeah, obviously I got a bigger role this year. That was, you know, that was expected, but I just had to prepare myself mentally, physically. But staying here, it was a dream come true. You know, I finally got – I feel like I’m really impacting the team, like on and off the court. And I feel like we’re being successful because of that. But staying a fifth year, it was a no-brainer. You know, I’m from Los Angeles, there’s no other school that I feel like Imma wear – at the college level – wear a jersey for. And I really prospered from that decision.
There are times when you come up to your teammates smirking and smiling – different from years’ past with an awareness and composure about how much things do or don’t mean?
Yeah, you know, at the end of the day, we’re playing basketball. I feel like this game should be fun. I feel like knowing how to win and knowing what it takes to win, in the fact that we’re getting that accomplished, is fun to me. I feel like, you know, sometimes the young guys will be panicking or frustrated and I gotta tell them to relax, we got you. Just play your game, you’re gonna make mistakes. This isn’t the last mistake or the last great play you’re gonna do, so just have fun with it. It’s just fun to win, you know?
Do you remember when you used to panic?
Yeah, sophomore year, I used to panic a little bit, so I remember that. I remember those days, so I know what it feels like, especially being a young guy coming into a program that’s already established about winning, having a winning culture and everything like that. It came be nerve-wracking sometimes, so I feel like it’s my job to, like, put them at ease and remind them ‘Hey, you’re here for a reason, you know? You’re here to play. I feel like everyone trusts you.’ I just tell them, like everyday, just positive reinforcement.
Gail Goodrich at the game last week in Utah – did you talk to him at all?
Yeah, I talked to him. I already – I knew who he was cause he was a Laker, so yeah, I knew who he was. But I talked to him, met him at dinner and everything, he was a legend. So we talked, he said just keep doing what I’m doing.
What was it like having someone of that stature come see you play?
It was an amazing feeling, but you know, that’s part of the reason why I came to UCLA, cause of all the greats who came before me. And there will be greats after me as well, so just the culture, the alumni, the brotherhood that we have, that’s part of the reason why I came to UCLA.