Jannon Otto Is Coming Back To Visit

It doesn’t seem like it was four years ago that I first interviewed Jannon. She was a freshmen, and with Cherise the season before, and Jaisa in the same class as Jannon, and Khadijah & Bryce as seniors, there was optimism for the season. It did not work out that way for Jannon or the team, and a year later she transferred back to California to UC Riverside.
Since then she has developed into a star for the Highlanders. Last season she was an all-conference selection and led the team in scoring (15.2 ppg), and free throws, and was assists (98). She also added 6.4 rebounds per game, one of three players to average over 6 a game.
On Tuesday Jannon comes back to the Pit for the Lobo’s season opener against UC Riverside, at 7 PM. Riverside has played one exhibition game, winning 71-66 against UC San Diego. Stats for that game are not available.
Joe: The last time people in Albuquerque saw you, you were a freshman wing who could run and shoot and averaged about ten minutes a game. Four years later, you are back in Southern California playing 33 minutes a game and among the conference leaders in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage. That’s been quite a journey. What’s that journey been like?
Jannon: It’s been crazy. Freshman year you think you are prepared for it, but you’re really not. So coming and transferring and sitting out a year, I think really helped me kind of prepare and grow as a player to work on the things that I was not doing well as a freshman. I think that really helped me personally. So, it’s been a long journey and I’ve learned a lot.
Joe: I seem to remember that you were in the gym a lot before that.
Jannon: Yeah.
Joe: The fans will see you after this maturing and developing. What will they see different in your game now than when you were here?
Jannon: Well, I’ve been trying to shot more threes because it’s something that I haven’t done very well in my college career, so I’ve been working on that a lot so hopefully this season I’ll be able to shoot the three a little more. I also want to stretch out a little more defensively because I’ve been in the post more like a big guard. So I’m trying to be more of a guard, guard. So I’ve been working on that a lot. So hopefully, that will be what you see more this season.
Joe: I noticed that the last couple of years, you took very few threes. I remember here you had a nice mid-range shot, but I don’t remember you taking a lot of threes here either.
Jannon: Yeah, so that’s how it’s been. I want to stretch it out a bit more and shot more threes. That’s my goal.
Joe: So, I noticed that you are one of four seniors on the team, but only two of them played last you: you and Marina Ewodo. So you are one of the experienced leaders on the team. The team went ten and six in conference last year. How did you take that leadership role as a senior?
Jannon: Our coach made us team captains actually along with one of the underclassmen. That’s been a growing part of me. I’m not usually a vocal leader, I work hard and am more of an example. So I try to communicate more with my teammates about the things that the coaches are looking for or what the coaches need from them. I’m more introverted so it has really helped me grow as a person.
Joe: It’s interesting looking at your freshman class. Neither you nor Emily nor Jaisa was ever a vocal person.
Jannon: Yeah, we were quiet and got along so good. We were all in our own little spaces. That’s crazy to think about, too. But, yeah. I still talk to Emily sometimes. Jaisa not as much. We talk on Instagram. She’ll be doing something and I’ll call or she will call my Instagram. It’s cool to stay in touch with those people.
Joe: I know, Emily missed you for the last three years.
Jannon: Yeah, she was my best friend when I was there. I missed being around her. She’s such a great person. She’s so nice. Everything about her makes you happy, so it sucks not being with those people.
Joe: Maybe you can go over to Spain some time and see Jaisa.
Jannon: That’s what we have been talking about. So hopefully that will happen.
Joe: I would love to get over there. I’ve been to Spain once and it was an enjoyable trip.
Jannon: That is such a great place to play. She thinks she is in an ideal location over there.
Joe: So much of Europe is fairly close together. I think if you get over there anywhere, it’s not too hard or far to get to other places.
You’ve played one exhibition game now. You guys won. It’s only one game, but from what you’ve seen, now put on your commentary hat, what do you think your 2019-2020 season is going to be for Riverside?
Jannon: Well, with the first game and the first time playing together, everything is a little discombobulated. We have practice this whole week so hopefully we will get it together and come out strong. I think we have some really talented players. I’m really excited for this group, actually. I think we could be really good for our conference. Hopefully, we will come together and it will work out like we think it should work out. I think we are really talented. This is the most talented group that I’ve been on since I’ve been here. I think we are in a good position to do well in the conference.
Joe: This road trip is going to give you three games in five days, so that should tell you a little something about the players, about the depth and about traveling on the road.
Jannon: That’s a lot of adversity right away. Three road game in a short span always especially just traveling out there. I think we leave the day before and we’re not going to be out there that long, so we have to adjust quickly to the situation we are given.
Joe: Looking at what you’ve done so far, with good health, you are almost certain to reach 1,000 points in your career and very likely to reach 500 rebounds. That would put you in some pretty rare company. [NOTE: That would make Jannon the 3rd Highlander to reach 1000/500, and the first to do it in three seasons at UCR.]
So in terms of basketball, what’s next for Jannon Otto after graduation?
Jannon: After graduation? Well, I really focus on this year. I really want to do as well as I can hopefully go somewhere after with the team. I want to make it to the tournament.
I want to play after if I can so I want to do as well as possible. I want to play well as a group and go as far as we can go. I feel that I have put a lot of time into this so I want to do good. I’ll be so glad when we are done this year and try to keep playing as long as I can.
Joe: Well, that is good and please keep us informed. We are trying to keep track of all the former Lobo players who are playing professionally now. We would love to add you to that list and keep following you.
Jannon: Yeah, definitely.
Joe: Whenever basketball ends, then what?
Jannon: I don’t know. That’s the tough question. Now I’m in grad school, I’m doing higher education and administration, so maybe something in administration for college athletic. I’m not really sure. That’s the cross road I’m at, I don’t know what I will do after basketball. Hopefully, I can figure something out soon, because it’s kind of coming up soon.
Joe: Well, it will come and I’m sure you will have some opportunities and will make a good choice with it.
I would like to end this with the same question I ended with last time. What else would you like to say to the Lobo fans who read this?
Jannon: I still think they are the greatest fans. They supported their women’s basketball team better than any program I have ever seen. So, I’m so excited to come back and play in The Pit. It’s the coolest place to play to this day. I can’t wait to come back and just see everyone there, see all you guys. Your support of your team is just unmatched. So I’m really excited to go back to Albuquerque.
Joe: Well, I know there are a lot of people who are excited to see you again, too.
Thank you for taking the time, Jannon. I appreciate it.
Jannon: No problem. Thanks for talking to me.