One on One with Sean Rooks:
Rooks, who played from 1989-92 at Arizona, was an All-Pacific 10 conference performer and honorable mention All-American in 1992 and is now coaching a free agent team at the Long Beach Summer Pro League. Rooks played 13 seasons in the NBA including stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. He said he plans to make a trip to Tucson next week after receiving a call from Tucson summer league director and former Wildcat Corey Williams.
Roman Veytsman: Is this a stepping stone for you to become an NBA coach or assistant?
Sean Rooks: Once I get involved it’s more about the kids, and that’s what I wanna do. I feel that every opportunity I get to work with kids and improve my skills in dealing with them. It definitely can help me because (coaching) is what I wanna get into.
RV: Have you received any coaching offers?
Rooks: I talked to a lot of people but it’s a fraternity and people are rotating all the time. There’s a lot of times when you’ll talk to people (about getting a coaching job) and they’ll be like ‘oh, that’s nice.’ It’s like anything else, like your first time playing ball, back to that first time when you were a free agent.
I just have to keep pushing and keep improving myself. If someone does give me an opportunity, instead of me stepping into a lot of things I don’t know, I’ve been working with a lot of people, I have a great understanding and now I look more attractive as far as giving a coach a chance…I think I’ll be good at it and I’m gonna pay my dues.
RV: What about coaching got you interested?
Rooks: I’ve always been the type of dude who understood the guys’ frustrations. I’ve always been a guy who could understand like a point guard. You look at guy’s like Jason Terry, Steve Nash, they all play off of instincts and they already know the game. There’s guys that don’t know the game and there’s guys that do.
I know the game…when you have so many coaches and played on so many different teams, I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge, under coach Olson, that’s the foundation. I give him more credit than anybody, so just coming out of his program, being with all kinds of coaches and having the passion and I just think I have the talent to relate to players.
RV: What is it about Lute Olson that he’s developed so many NBA players?
Rooks: He’s a Hall of Famer, he’s taken his knowledge and his structure that he’s been consistent with. It’s almost like being involved in a camp or being involved in a establishment. Once he has everything implemented, you filter through it differently. My story is different from (incoherent name), different from Sean Elliott’s. I don’t even know if I was Lute’s favorite when I was there because I would always find my way to the bench. I was all Fiesta Bowl every year that I was there and I played but I didn’t start…My experiences with Lute (helped).
When I first came in the league, I had to produce points in a short period of time. I got used to it at Arizona, we had so many good big guys…Brian Williams, Anthony Cook, who a lot of people don’t know about but he was the leading shot blocker in the Pac-10 and he was good, Tom Tolbert. We had so many big guys that played.
RV: Does Lute not get enough recognition for developing big guys?
Rooks: There’s a lack of big guys, period. There’s no big guys out here. Channing was even a different build than me and Tom Tolbert. He’s a new millennium big guy, 7-foot-1 120, (he’s joking here). Me and Tom, we’re like the bug guys who put their bodies on you. What’s good about how Lute does it, he lets us play different positions. For example, Tom could shoot, I could shoot, Tom could pass, I could pass…times are different now, and he’s making the adjustments. He picks up a perimeter big guy (Ivan Radenovic) and turns him into a low post guy.
Also what makes him good is he has good assistants. Lute wasn’t always hands on…what I mean by that is Lute can’t be everywhere, but the program is still the program. If Lute never even showed up, you knew what you had to do, school wise, academically, the way you conducted yourself. If you (messed up) you didn’t wanna go see Lute. We all (got in trouble at some point), and we had to look in the mirror.