Arizona’s Kyle Fogg on a mission
Guard takes almost 40,000 shots in offseason, focuses on leadership
Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Washington Huskies hosted the Arizona Wildcats in a battle for the outright lead in Pacific-10 Conference men’s basketball Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, in Clarence S. “Hec” Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle, Wash. At the half, Washington leads 36-31.
After Arizona’s Elite Eight loss to UConn last season, Kyle Fogg went to basketball head coach Sean Miller for advice.
The senior guard asked what he could do to help the Wildcats make a second consecutive deep tournament run. Winning in March felt too good, and Arizona came too close to its first Final Four since 2001 for Fogg to sit back and soak it in.
“I was just like, ‘I want to be the best player I can next year to help this team be to get back to that place,’” Fogg explained. “Just because that feeling was so great. I said, ‘What can I do to help our team get those wins?’”
Miller told his senior leader, who saw both his field goal percentage and three-point percentage drop last season, to get in the gym and work on his jump shot.
Before giving Fogg a plan of action, Miller asked the Brea, Calif., native how serious he was, on a scale of one to 10, about becoming a lethal shooter and giving the Wildcats added range and accuracy.
“I told him 11,” Fogg said.
So Miller set the bar high for Fogg. The goal? A combination of 40,000 set shots, pull-up jumpers and collegiate and NBA 3-pointers over the course of summer workouts.
Fogg all but reached that ambitious goal, taking 39,132 shots and making 26,414 of them, good for 67.5 percent.
“It’s intense. Just everyday, shooting everyday,” Fogg said. “40,000 — it doesn’t sound like that much. When I kind of heard, I was like, yeah, I can get that for sure. But it was definitely a lot of hard work. I reached my goal.”
The entire team hoisted 96,324 shots this summer, but no one put in more work than Fogg. And his jump shot wasn’t the only area Fogg worked on in the offseason.
The usually rail-thin two-guard also put on more than 10 pounds in the offseason, taking him from the 177 pounds he ended the season at to 188. He hopes to get up to 195 and eventually play the 2011-12 season at 190 pounds.
But more important than his new and improved jump shot and his bigger build, Fogg has developed the necessary leadership to guide a young Wildcats squad. Although quiet on the surface, Fogg is turning into Miller’s coach on the floor and UA’s unquestioned leader.
“He’s definitely coming out of his shell,” said senior forward Jesse Perry. “A lot of guys might see him as quiet. But inside of the gym it’s just us. Don’t nobody know what goes on. He knows this is his last year, and he wants to be good, you know, he wants to be a leader. He wants to win. That’s the most important thing.”
Fogg has been through the college basketball ringer. He’s seen the rise and fall of the program, from the Russ Pennell days transitioning to the Miller era. He’s played more games, 104 with 85 starts, than any member on the 2011-12 Wildcats.
Because of that experience and developed leadership, the usually softspoken Fogg won’t keep quiet.
“I’m trying not to keep my mouth shut at all during workouts,” Fogg said. “Constantly talking, clapping my hands, stomping my feet. Anything I can do to get these guys a little more excited. I’m really ready to embrace this senior leadership role, not stop talking, trying to keep people involved.”
Four-star recruit Nick Johnson — and Arizona’s host of backcourt players including Brendon Lavender, Jordin Mayes and Josiah Turner — figured to cut into Fogg’s playing time. Fogg calld Johnson a “great player” who can “jump out of the gym.” He also said Turner is “one of the best passers I’ve ever seen.”
But given Fogg’s work ethic, leadership and added weight in the offseason, Arizona’s backcourt depth shouldn’t stop him from turning in a big senior season as the Wildcats’ most prominent figure.
“I know a lot of the guys look up to me and Fogg,” Lavender said. “I just hope everyone can be focused this year, be on the same page. We all want to win and it all starts in practice. Hopefully me and Fogg, with the most experience here, can make that work.”