Westbrook’s UCLA professor reflects on history season

Russell Westbrook’s former UCLA professor and current Barrett, the Honors College professor at Arizona State University (where the author attends school), Dr. Mathew Sandoval discussed Westbrook’s season.

Sandoval sat down and talked about Westbrook after the regular season and before the playoffs matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The interview covers a wide variety of subjects including Westbrook’s personality, work ethic and historic NBA season.

To listen to the whole interview, click on the video below.

Westbrook in class

“He wasn’t (extremely fashionable in college). I don’t really remember him being like that way. He was like a lot of other student athletes in the sense that they kind of just show up in their Adidas UCLA gear.”

“I do recall him being present everyday, which is more than a lot of his teammates or fellow student-athletes can say. By and large he participated in class discussions. He seemed like a pretty legit student athlete. Somebody who was actually a student-athlete opposed to athlete-student. I really got the sense that he was there to try and learn.”

“It could be the fact that he developed so late that he did have a concentration on class, much more so than a lot of people.”

“He was very quiet, he did all the work, he participated group discussions and stuff like that but he didn’t have a large personality I would say. He seemed very much to keep to himself.

College Career

“I certainly didn’t think (in college) that he would be where he is at now. There was no telling that he had that potential. I didn’t see it, but certainly NBA scouts did.”

“The thing that stuck out to me about his game was that he was such an athlete. His dunks in warm-ups, even in college, were just sick. He had so much bounce.”


“He has kind of developed a personality in the NBA.”

“His first couple of years he was quiet and timid, and that was certainly the way he was in class. He wasn’t a stand out in class, that’s why it’s kind of so funny to talk about him as a student because there wasn’t anything that really stood out about him.”

“That’s really a rare talent, someone who wants to excel in literally every field that they’re attached to, even with fashion. He’s trying to be as fashion forward in the NBA as anybody else. He’s trying to be the best basketball player in the NBA, not just be good, not just be the best on his team.”

“Also in regards to the triple doubles he is that multifaceted. Like it is an extension of his strength to try and pursue the best in every realm.”

Cultural Impact

“He’s also most valuable in the sense of cultural impact, again thinking of the people who are watching basketball now just to watch him play, to watch him try and break (the triple double record).”

“I have a girlfriend whose whole family is from OKC, and they are not basketball fans at all. … But this year, they’re all of a sudden following every single game because of Russell Westbrook and it’s because he literally has put the team and the city on his back.”

Historic NBA season

“I’m a pretty big basketball head and there are certain records that you just think are never going to fall. Wilt Chamberlin’s 100 points is certainly up there, it’s just hard to fathom anybody coming close. Oscar Robertson’s record was probably number two behind Wilt. I never thought anyone would even come close.”

“Everyone should be talking about this, whether or not you’re basketball fan. That’s how significant that record is.”

“In the modern NBA you just cant really put up numbers like that.”

“That’s what’s so fascinating about it that during Oscar’s day, Wilt’s day, the Celtic days you had a number of premier players but then really like a bunch of nobodies. The NBA now is so full of talent, it’s full of so many good teams and they’re all primarily in the West. That’s the other thing, not just that he did it in the NBA, he did it in the Western Conference and I mean that has special meaning to it to – that’s the toughest conference in the NBA.”


“It might be a close vote but I think (Westbrook will win MVP). I don’t know how anyone would not vote for him.”

“Whatever metric you use to measure the MVP, I think he’s got it tied up. If it’s just the numbers, his numbers are better than anybody’s. If it’s who’s the most valuable to your team in particular, I think it’s still him.”

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