Monday, January 12, 2004

XU star latest power forward to impact NBA


Catching up with David West: Hornet maximizes limited minutes

By Dave Goldstein
Enquirer contributor

Georgetown is famous for its big men and Arizona for its point guards. But one pool of talent that has existed under the radar is Xavier's collection of power forwards. David West is working on correcting the omission.

[img]
New Orleans Hornets forward David West, right, and Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard (5) chase a loose ball.
(AP/file photo)
West, a rookie with the New Orleans Hornets, follows Torraye Braggs, Brian Grant, Tyrone Hill, Derek Strong and Aaron Williams as Xavier power forwards now in the NBA. West, though, had the most decorated college career. He was named the Associated Press and United States Basketball Writers Association player of the year his senior season, and became the first Xavier player to have his number retired before he graduated.

West averaged 37 minutes a game last season at Xavier, but he plays about 11.4 minutes a game for the Hornets. He's making a solid impact, though, averaging nearly four rebounds a game.

The Hornets selected West 18th in the NBA draft.

"We love the guy," coach Tim Floyd said. "He's so mature and he plays physical, he doesn't play afraid. He rebounds outside of his area, he can score in the low post, and he can shoot the ball from the perimeter a lot better than people think.

"He's going to be a player in this league for a long, long time."

West could not have asked for a better situation in which to begin his NBA career. He plays behind P.J. Brown, a consummate professional and respected player. And West plays for a winner, something he grew used to at Xavier.

West's Hornets are off to a 22-15 start, third in the Eastern Conference. Although the grind of an NBA season would take its toll on any rookie at this point in the year, West takes the advice of his veteran teammates and stays ready.

"We've already had like three big road trips early in the season, so I learned right away you've got to get your rest, especially on the road," West said. "Playing those back-to-backs, getting in late and having to be ready to perform the next night, that's tough. It's been a learning process but (the veterans) give me great advice on how to keep myself ready, how to eat right, how to stay prepared and contribute whenever you do get out there."

Though West's minutes aren't high, he has appeared in 35 of the team's 37 games.

With the Hornets' move to the Western Conference imminent, West's presence ensures that the team will move to the tougher conference with a power forward it can count on to rebound, stay tenacious on defense and generally make a positive impact when on the court.

If that description sounds familiar to Musketeer fans, it's because it could apply to any of West's predecessors at Xavier.

And like those predecessors, West is committed to the program that gave him a chance. He could be in his second or third NBA season right now, but he stayed at XU for four years. He displays his loyalty to the Musketeers with an X tattooed on his left shoulder.

"All the guys from Xavier were the kind of guys that came in under the radar and weren't necessarily that heavily recruited," West said. "... I pride myself on being a part of that group of guys because they're all about hard work.

"Those guys went in (to Xavier) under the radar but were able to come out on top."

West's numbers

Statistics for New Orleans rookie David West through 37 games this season:

Games played: 35

Points: 110 Points per game: 3.1

Rebounds: 134

Rebounds per game: 3.8




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