Every good team has an un-sung hero - a guy who gets the job done quietly and without any fanfare.
Stuart Nezlek is not that guy.
For what else gets the Hilton crowd on their feet quicker than when Nezlek steps on the court? Yes, you heard me, the 6'10" junior from River Forest, Illinois is not only a big man on the bench, but is one of the biggest guys on the court at any given moment. Stuart, or STUUUU, as many of you call him, may be number 24 on the court, but he is definitely #1 in our hearts.
WRNL: Hey Stuart, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself; hobbies, interests, anything that comes to mind.
STU: Well I'm Stuart Nezlek, but everyone here really knows me as Stu or STUUUUU. Other than basketball, I'm a pretty big fan of trap and skeet shooting as well as traveling when I get the time to do either of those things.
WRNL: When did you start playing basketball? Did you think you'd ever end up playing college ball?
STU: I started playing basketball legitimately somewhere around 4th grade. I played on and off up until then but, ever since 4th grade, basketball has been one of my top sports. Honestly, I never thought I'd end up playing college ball at this level. I mean, the last time I played organized basketball was my sophomore year of high school... I transferred schools my junior year and the coach at my new school wasn't a fan of me (to this day I still don't know why). I was told by my new coach that the highest level of basketball I'd ever achieve was maybe a low end D3 school, and I simply refused to accept that.
WRNL: How does the walk-on process work for a basketball player? When did you decide you wanted to try out?
STU: I decided that, after needing surgery to have my shoulder repaired the summer going into my sophomore year, I really wanted to try and get back to playing basketball. So I worked my ass off like anyone who wants something that badly should do, and did everything I could to put myself in the best position to walk-on. From there, the walk-on process looks like this: You get in contact with a coach, they bring you in for a workout where they evaluate your strengths and weakness as a player, you (maybe) play pickup with the current members of the team, and then after all that they decide whether they want to pick you up or not.
WRNL: Now then... People are always dying to get more info on the basketball team. While we knew a lot about Fred Hoiberg and his style, not much is known yet about Steve Prohm. What was your first impression of Coach Prohm?
STU: My first impression was honestly that the guy's southern roots must be strong, as his accent was quite southern. Once he talked with the team for the first time, I knew he was a player-first kind of coach, meaning he has great respect for what each and every one of us has to say.
WRNL: Continuing this line of questioning, what are Prohm's practices like? What is he like during games?
STU: His practices are unique to say the least... He puts a heavy emphasis on defense, runs some offense, and does a lot of advantage/disadvantage drills as well. Coming from high school, our practices are completely different from what I had always thought a "practice" was.
WRNL: Now then... Time for some fun questions. We've all heard how impressive guys like Matt Thomas and Deonte Burton are during practice. Who impresses you the most during practice?
STU: Jordan Ashton
WRNL: Interesting.. Is there anyone who is a leader on the team that might surprise people?
STU: I'd have to say Nick Babb
WRNL: Who is the best dunker on the team? I think we all know the answer to this one...
STU: Deonte. Burton.
WRNL: Best three-point shooter? Once again....
STU: Definitely Matt "Iceman" Thomas
WRNL: Who's the fastest guy on the team?
STU: Nick Babb
WRNL: Best dancer?
STU: I'd have to go with Georges Niang
WRNL: Who do you think is the grossest eater?
STU: Definitely Simeon Carter...
WRNL: Alright, who's the most annoying guy on the team?
STU: I'd have to say myself... I never really shut up.
WRNL: Easiest guy on the team to rile up?
STU: This is easily a 2-way tie between Nick Babb and Georges Niang...
WRNL: Moving on to the bench... What is a game like for you guys? How do you all help the team prepare for each game?
STU: Well for games home and away we all warm up together in our "Bigs" and "Guards" groups. Then as a team we come together and do lay-up lines, shell drill, and a couple other pre-game type things. However, most of the help we do is during practice when we have to scout the other team. It helps to give the starters an idea of what the other team plays like so they're better prepared.
WRNL: I've noticed that you guys like to have fun during games. Have you seen the show the Monmouth bench puts on each week? Can we expect any choreographed celebrations out of you?
STU: I have seen the Monmouth bench and it's pretty funny to watch. I don't know if we're gonna do anything as choreographed as them, but we might come up with something later on this season.
WRNL: Alright, a few more fun ones before I let you go. Top 5 movies or TV shows, either one works...
STU: I'll go with top 5 movies: Shooter, Ted, Star Wars, Glory Road, and Skyfall.
WRNL: Favorite bands/music?
STU: Drake, The Weeknd, Future, Adele, Sia.
WRNL: Lastly, I've got to ask you the Wide Right Natty Lite standard question: Fuck, Marry, Kill: Anna Kendrick, Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence?
STU: I'm marrying Anna Kendrick, I'm fucking Jennifer Lawrence, and I'm killing Emma Watson.
Huge thanks to Stuart for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck to him and the team for the remainder of the season! Go Cyclones!