Feb. 22, 2012
Each day leading up to the Cougars' final regular-season home game against Washington, an interview with a senior will be posted to this website. Tuesday's Q&A is with Faisal Aden, a guard from San Diego, Calif.
Q: What made you decide to continue your basketball career and education at Washington State?
A: As a kid, being from California, I just watched the then-Pac-10 and it was always a dream of mine just to play in the Pac-10. When I got the opportunity, I thought, why not go for my childhood dreams and just do it?
Q: Having been in Pullman for nearly two years now, what do you like most about the town?
A: It's unique. It's mostly college students, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. It's a good thing because you're pretty much just around your peers all the time. It's a strange balance because when the students are in town there's so much going on, but during breaks it's a completely different town.
Q: What's your biggest strength on the basketball court?
A: I think I have a high basketball IQ. I have a good feel for the game. I can do a lot of things when I put my mind to it. Obviously, the scoring part, but I think I can read defenders and I can get guys open. I have quick hands so on defense I have a lot of opportunity to steal the ball. I'm just out there playing basketball really. My biggest strength is probably just scoring. It just comes naturally to me.
Q: What do need to work on on the court?
A: I work on everything. I work on speed, I work on handles, I work on shooting. I don't take a rest from anything, I pretty much work on everything.
Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: It depends on my comfort level. I'm not one of those people who's automatically comfortable, who opens up so easily. It all depends. To the people that are close to me, they'll say I'm funny, I'm silly, I talk a lot; whether you believe it or not. I just try and find the good in everything. I'm always positive.
What's your favorite college arena you've played in?
UCLA's arena, Pauley Pavilion. I'm from San Diego and just the legacy, everything that's happened there, all the great players that have gone through there, the history behind it, that was just a big deal to me. It was such a huge deal to me when we got on the court. I didn't put the guys we were playing on a pedestal or anything, but just to be on that court was so amazing, it was surreal almost. I'm bummed we don't get to play there this year (due to renovations being made). That was the one place I was looking forward to playing at.
Q: You got a late start playing basketball, how did you get into the game?
A: I just picked it up trying to fit in. Everybody in my neighborhood was playing basketball and I just wanted to fit in. So I just picked up a basketball and it turned into a hobby and then turned into a passion from there. I never played organized ball, I didn't know about college ball much, I didn't even know much about the NBA either, I played just to have fun, just as a past time.
Q: What NBA player did you emulate or look up to as a kid?
A: I've always looked up to Kobe Bryant, just because he was visible. He was a mega star in the area I grew up. Just the passion he had and his determination and will power is really what attracted me to him. He has really good characteristics I really like, his determination, his never-die attitude and his will to win. It's incredible to watch somebody so hungry go after something. He's my favorite player and he's the guy I try to emulate, well I tried to when I was younger, obviously I'm not 6-6 or anything. He's the one guy I like. I like a lot of guys now, but the one guy, if I had to choose, is Kobe.
Q: So does that mean you're a Lakers fan?
A: I'm a huge Lakers fan. A lot of people just hopped on the bandwagon when they started doing well, but I was with the Lakers when they weren't very good, I was with them before 1999, before they started winning championships, when they were getting booted in the first round and Kobe was air-balling 3's as a rookie. I was really young, but I've been a huge fan since then. Die hard.
Q: What's your favorite sport other than basketball?
A: Other than basketball it's soccer. I like that game because it's similar to basketball. Of course there's a lot of differences, but the movements and the way you try and beat your defender with quick first steps, it's similar to basketball in a lot of ways. That was actually my first sport, before basketball, because I'm from Somalia and it's a huge deal in Somalia. If you didn't play soccer there, you were weird.
Q: What is the biggest cultural difference between Somalia and the United States?
A: Somalia is really conservative. Here in America I think you have a lot of freedom to express yourself. But there, there's a level of respect. Say for instance, you're a kid and you're out doing something wrong, another adult could punish you. They can tell you what to do and what not to do. And it's a respect like `yes sir, no sir', the kids play their part and the elders play their part. The culture takes from the religion, so you don't see a lot of interaction between males and females without there being a reason for it. There's no partying, boys and girls can't really be out there hanging out. It was fun. It was a cool place to be when I was there. I enjoyed it, before the wars. It's a beautiful place, it's sunny all year around, the ocean is right there. To describe it; it's beautiful and conservative.
Q: What's next for you after you're done at Washington State?
A: Hopefully move onto the next the level, play at the next level, wherever that is. I aspire to play professional basketball. I also just want to be with my family more. Since I started playing basketball I haven't gotten to spend much time with my family. During all the breaks, Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're playing games or tournaments. I plan on spending time with the people I love and doing the things I love to do.