The UC Davis men’s basketball has all the ingredients it needs to be a successful team. Senior Paolo Mancasola distributes the ball, sophomore Corey Hawkins makes the shots and junior Ryan Sypkens drains the threes.
Sophomore J.T. Adenrele brings the size, the presence in the paint and the power. The Roseville, Calif. native has started every game for UC Davis this season and has led the team in points four times, including a career high of 23 against Stanford early in the season.
Adenrele is averaging 12.2 points per game and his record of 33 blocked shots is the most on the team.
He sat down with Aggie Sports Writer Kim Carr to talk about how he bulked up for this season and how the team’s outlook is for the year. The Aggie even got some bonus interview material from Adenrele’s mother, Bernadette, featured here.
What brought you to UC Davis?
Family, actually. I had always wanted to go to a big city for school but when one of my family members got sick and ended up in the hospital I realized it wasn’t going to work out that way if I wanted to stay close to my family.
Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that this team has good chemistry on the court. How are things outside of the gym?
Awesome. Obviously we have our little cliques but when we’re all together it’s always just hilarious. It’s only good times with these guys.
So you must be the funniest guy on the team then?
Haha, no, I wouldn’t say that. Actually, Olivier’s pretty funny. Tyler’s hilarious too. I mean I can go all the way down the list. There’s a whole bunch of funny guys on the team.
You guys are in good contention for the Big West Conference Tournament. Are you excited for Anaheim?
Of course. It’s what we’ve been working so hard for. I’m really excited.
Did you really think this team would be in this spot after last year?
Yeah, I really did. You know, during the summer when we were over in France we were playing really well and winning against some great teams. When we came back, we started having individual workouts and really working hard as a team. As long as we keep working, we’ll keep winning.
Speaking of workouts, what is your weight regimen like?
Haha, first you have to get the Nigerian food in you!
What’s in Nigerian food?
Some Jollof, some plantains, and a lot of beans. You know it’s mostly the food with a little bit of weights here and there. You know, 10 pounds here and there, a little bench pressing and just let the food do the rest.
So just a little bit of weights then?
Honestly, the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, Coach Les really wanted me to get bigger and stronger. In the weight room I really took that to heart every day. It was a lot of hard work and some Nigerian food.
So does your mom still do all of your cooking?
She does. She usually brings something down for me!
Does he do his own laundry?
Bernadette: He does! And he can cook and clean the house too.
So what’s it like when you’re on the road and you have to room with someone else? Do you have a favorite road roommate?
Well, during the season it’s always Josh. We’re paired for the season.
So are you guys lucky enough to get your own beds or do you have to share?
Haha, we get our own. I don’t think Josh and I could fit in one bed.
I want to ask your mom something. He told me he’s never played a day of football in his life and I was shocked. I think he would make an incredible tight end.
Bernadette: No football! I wouldn’t let him!
J.T.: Yeah, I was a soccer kid until we moved to Roseville. I did play a little flag football there, but then my coach decided to start a basketball team and asked me to join. I said, ‘sure,’ and that’s how I got into basketball.
So it hasn’t always been about basketball for you then. What did you actually want to be when you were a kid?
Actually, I always wanted to be an engineer. My dad’s an engineer and my first year I was a civil engineering major but I had to change to managerial economics because it was too much with basketball.
Are you hoping to go into the NBA after Davis then?
You know, I’m not sure. I’m thinking about it. I’m also looking into playing abroad. I’m not ready to give up basketball just yet.
So I’ve seen Corey do the Dougie before the game a couple of times, but I’ve never seen you dancing. Do you have any moves?
Well, I’m usually too focused before the game to dance but, I do have some moves.
What’s your favorite, then?
I don’t think I have a favorite. I think it depends on what mood I’m in, I guess.
So you just default to the sprinkler then?
No! Not the sprinkler! That’s cheesy.
Do you think we’ll be seeing a UC Davis Men’s Basketball Harlem Shake video?
Ooh… I’ll ask the team. I think Bozner would be really into that.
Well, you guys get to play on ESPN2 in a couple of weeks. Are you excited for that?
Oh, absolutely! March 7. It’s against Long Beach State too, so we’re looking to pull the upset on national television.
Bernadette: You’re going to be on TV?
UC Davis is going to be on national television so everybody’s going to be watching! You’ll probably be here though I imagine.
J.T. Yeah, mom, you’ll be here in the gym. It’s a Thursday though so Dad will have to watch from home. It’s going to be awesome though.