A Chat With George

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By JORDAN IKEDA

Sports Editor

Following Friday night’s epic basketball game between crosstown rivals

George Toyama speaks at the CYC Jamboree Sunday, Feb. 29. (JORDAN IKEDA/Rafu Shimpo)

Pasadena and Mark Keppel at Muir High School, the Rafu writer “who was turned away” got a chance to catch up with the Bull Dogs star point guard, George Toya­ma at the Community Youth Council (CYC) basketball Jamboree Sunday at Schurr High School in Montebello. Toyama will be playing at the Honda Center on Saturday for the CIF Divisional Champion­ships against Eisenhower.

RAFU: How’s this season been for you?

GEORGE TOYAMA: It’s been a rollercoaster season. Throughout the preseason, even before, we had a lot of internal problems with our team. Guys weren’t getting along, arguing with coaches. We didn’t re­ally know how the season was going to go. In the middle of league, we started to catch our groove and everything has been good since then. We definitely got hot at the right time. The season has been miraculous as of right now. I’m really happy about the position we’re in.

RAFU: What do you feel was your biggest development this year as a basketball player?

GT: The past couple of years, I started as a sophomore, but I’ve never really been a leader. This year, the main thing I changed, I told myself that I was going to make sure that I was the right leader for my team, whether I needed to score more or distribute more, regardless, I wanted to make sure our team won, that we were successful as a team. Whatever I needed to do, that’s what I was going to do. And, it’s worked so far. We’re in the right position.

RAFU: Is there someone who you mold your game after?

GT: Definitely. Darren Nakauchi, he’s three years older. He’s been my sister’s boyfriend since they were like 12 years old. He’s like an older brother to me, a person I look up to.

RAFU: What sort of preparation are you doing for this week­end’s divisional championships?

GT: I’m not taking it as a huge game. Just another game, going out there just like you’re at the park again. You can’t go into these games with too much anxiety or being too nervous. We’re going to get ready. Our team’s going to be ready. I’m working out this week and we’ll see how it goes. I’m going to go in with the best of expectations.

RAFU: What’s the best part about a big game?

GT: The best part is the hype. Everyone is talking to you, wishing you good luck. Our team, we’re all pumped. We’ll be ready.

RAFU: I know you’re focused on this weekend, but do you have plans for after graduation as well?

GT: I definitely want to go to a four-year university. My aspirations are to play in college. I definitely am going to try and play ball, help my parents out a little bit. We’ll see where that takes me.

RAFU: While there’s plenty of JA and Asian kids playing bas­ketball in our community, there aren’t too many playing at a high level. Seeing that you’ve made it this far, what advice do you have for the younger kids out there that maintain hoop dreams?

GT: I’m definitely not the biggest guy, day in and day out I’m actu­ally one of the smallest. I know a lot of the Buddha head kids aren’t going to be getting pretty big. The main thing is heart. My dad taught me to always work hard and give 110 percent, all I can do. That’s my advice to the young ones out there. Have a good heart and work as hard as you can.

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2 Comments

  1. Charles Hashibe on

    To Jordan Ikeda, Sports Editor

    Good effort on “The Zen of Billiards.” At the top of the second column, you begin, “For the past three years, Herndon, Lee and several of the other top WTBA players…….” Reread the previous paragraphs, but you don’t give an inkling on who Lee and the other players are. Wish you’d sharpen up on your writing.

  2. I re-read the story today (just got back from Tokyo) and I realized my mistake. Thanks for the sharp eye! Appreciate the feedback and I will do my best to sharpen my writing.

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