February 9, 2016 by Seth Rubinroit
Byron Wesley now plays for the Sioux Falls Skyforce (Seth Rubinroit/Galen Central)
By Seth Rubinroit
The Trojans won just two Pac-12 games in 2013-2014 under first-year head coach Andy Enfield. After the season mercifully came to an end, Byron Wesley had a difficult decision to make.
By graduating in three years, he had the option of transferring to a new school without being required to sit out. Or he could have returned for his senior season at USC, where he averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds as a junior.
Tired of losing, Wesley decided to transfer to Gonzaga. He helped the Bulldogs advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, and won more conference games in his lone season in Spokane than he did in three years at USC.
He now plays for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the the NBA D-League. He is still working his way into the rotation after signing with the team on January 21.
Galen Central caught up with Wesley before the Skyforce played the Westchester Knicks at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York.
What stands out to you most from your time at USC?
I had the time of my life at USC. I met so many people who helped me become a better player. I played for three different coaches, and each coaching staff did something different to help my game, so I’m thankful for that.
What’s your favorite Kevin O’Neill story?
Oh man, there are so many! I forget who we were playing, but James Blasczyk got a technical or a flagrant or something, and KO came into the locker room at halftime and did an impression of a boxer’s fighting technique. We were trying to stay serious and not laugh, but everyone started laughing.
I had so many moments with KO. Funny guy, but he definitely made tougher player and person.
What was the biggest difference when Andy Enfield became the head coach?
Offensively, there was more freedom. KO liked us to move the ball on offense, whereas with Enfield let whoever had the first good shot take it. I’m glad I got to be a part of both systems.
What was the final straw that made you want to transfer away from USC?
Probably a mixture of only winning two games in conference that year, not winning any games in the Pac-12 Tournament during my three years and not getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. And I didn’t make all-league or anything like that my junior year, and I thought I had a pretty good year. That was frustrating for me. I just wanted a change of scenery and to end my collegiate career on a good note, and it worked out.
In what ways was the culture different at Gonzaga than at USC?
There were a lot of differences. They are very detail oriented at Gonzaga as far as analytics and knowing percentages.
I might not have put up the same numbers at Gonzaga, but I became a much more efficient player, and that helped my game.
Do you consider yourself a Trojan or a Bulldog?
I consider myself both. I’m a year away from graduating with my master’s degree from Gonzaga, and I already graduated from USC.
What are your thoughts on the current USC team?
They’ve done a really good job recruiting. Coach Enfield finally has players that fit his system, and you can see that it’s working out.
What was Jordan McLaughlin like in high school?
When I was a senior, he was a freshman. He was talented. As soon as he stepped on campus, we knew he was going to be on varsity, and that he would play too. We had a really good point guard at the time, so he was a back-up the entire year, but we saw him get better and better. We knew that eventually it would be his team, and when he came to USC, we were all excited.
Jordan was pretty quiet. But he was a freshman, and you know how it is for freshmen coming into high school. He’s a smart kid and really hard working.
How’s life as a professional?
Pro life has been fun. It’s a lot different. In college you have to practice and work out and still go to school and tutoring. Here you can just workout and go to practice and do your thing. You are playing basketball for a job.
I’ve cut down on my weight. I’m trying to watch what I eat and do a lot of cardio. I’m not lifting as much, just doing some maintenance stuff.
It’s definitely cold. But I lived in Spokane last year, so I got used to the snow.