[Photos from UNM]
Joe: Let’s start with what everybody wants to know. How is rehab coming?
AT: It’s coming great. I’m definitely progressing very well. I have a check-up so hopefully I’ll be allowed to run and keep it moving forward.
Joe: From what I’ve heard, this is not your normal knee situation so a lot of this rehab is new territory. What are your expectations for the rest of the summer?
AT: Honestly, being able to run is the biggest step because at that point I can at least be conditioning. I still can’t cut and all that, but at that point I can run and be more involved with the workouts. I can come in here and shoot at least. So at the end of the day, I still want to improve my game the best that I can without reinjuring myself.
Joe: Since you are not able to practice and you are one of the most experienced players, what do you find yourself doing during practice to stay involved and to contribute?
AT: My biggest role right now is becoming a better leader. You will see me talking a lot to the freshmen, giving them more insight. In the drills I’m more like a coach: I’m a passer, I’ll rebound. I do the best that I can. I obviously can’t do too much that involves a lot of movement yet–I can stand there on the wing, for when we rebound. They want me to talk to the freshmen, and I can do that.
Joe: What do you say to them? “Here are the things I wish I knew when I got here”?
AT: Honestly, just to be a sponge and work hard every day that you come in here. I tell them college is a whole different environment with them trying to learn a lot. It’s tough because we move very fast. So the fact that I can be on the side line and in their ear I think is very helpful because I’m watching it all instead of being in the workouts. It’s a different perspective for them to hear it from another player.
Joe: What made you come back for a 5th year? You graduated–congratulations on that, well done, well deserved—so you had other options.
AT: Thank you. Definitely what sealed the deal for me returning was when we won the Championship. At that time the majority of our team was going to be returning, so I knew that we could definitely repeat and also take it further. I know how close we were to winning the tournament, and obviously that’s always a goal of ours. If we can repeat, then that’s what we plan to do.
Joe: What do you think you personally need to do better in order to help that?
AT: Being consistent and staying on the floor–I know a lot of times in the games I would be in foul trouble. I still had a good game, but it’s like “what if I was in the game the entire time compared to just the half-time that I was in?”. Staying out of foul trouble is the biggest improvement that I want to make.
That is more mental than physical. I had a lot of dumb fouls, trying to do more than what I’m supposed to. Sometimes I’d be a little tired and maybe I try to block a shot that I didn’t need to. I just need to be mentally smart.
Joe: After the season, what’s next for you?
AT: I don’t know. At this point, I’m just trying to finish grad school. Hopefully, I can knock it out in a year, then I’ll figure out where to go from there. Right now I just need to focus on the upcoming season.
Joe: What are you studying in grad school?
AT: I am getting a Master’s in Human Resources and Organizational Development. My Dad is in Human Resources and I’ve had a chance to go to work with him and shadow him. I like what he does, being behind the scenes, doing employee development and stuff like that. If I can bring that into sports, that would be great. We’ll see.
It’s great because the class that I’m in right now is team development facilitation. For a lot of my papers I literally use our basketball team. It gets me thinking when I read books, and I get to use that on the court.
A couple of the coaches have given me guidance on my papers, but I haven’t actually talked to the team about what I write about
Joe: Any other things you would like to say to people?
AT: Be ready. I can’t wait to have everybody back in The Pit. It’s going to be an exciting year, so hopefully we can get as many fans in here as we want. My Mom is already talking about coming to watch some games. My Dad is trying to come to as many games as possible. We’re going back to Houston for a game and I always have family there.
Joe: I think the record is about 50 some odd family at a game when the team played a tournament in Chicago several years ago. They came down from Minneapolis and Wisconsin. Is your family going to beat that?
AT: [Laughter] I don’t know about that, but I’m definitely going to strive for it. I was trying to get as many people as I can especially as this is my last year. I want as many family to be able to see me play as possible.
Joe: Thank you very much.
AT: You’re welcome.