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Inside the UA Athlete: Freshmen living large in small quarters

Cassandra Tomlin/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman basketball players J.P. Prince (left) and Marcus Williams both live in Pueblo De La Cienega Residence Hall. Their teammate Fendi Onobun also lives in the hall.
By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
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A dorm room doesn't provide the biggest living quarters for the Arizona student. It's even less accommodating for three freshmen all standing more than 6-foot-6.

But it will have to do for Marcus Williams, J.P. Prince and Fendi Onobun, the future of the Arizona men's basketball team.

In Prince's room, which he shares with a buddy from his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., the guard has the bare necessities for today's college student.

A laptop sits on his desk as music blares from its speakers. A television stands in the middle of the room, with "NCAA Football 2006" loaded in the PlayStation 2, while the bleak-looking walls are partially covered by a smattering of posters.

Prince, who collects athletic jerseys, said he couldn't even bring his collection because there wasn't enough closet space.

As Williams and Onobun walk into their shared dorm room, Onobun takes a flying leap on to one of the two beds, burdening his mattress with his 240-pound frame.

"The first day when we came here in the summer and we first came into the rooms, I was like, 'Man, this room is kind of small,'" said the forward Onobun of his temporary homestead. "You get used to it after a while. You have to do the best with what you got."

"We had to adapt," said the forward Williams. "I had to set my room up so I had that home feeling."

Even in the offseason, their schedules are hectic. They wake up at around 6:30 a.m., go to class from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then two days a week either practice for two hours right after class or work out with assistant coaches.

The day isn't done there. They play pick-up basketball until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., followed by study hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"I don't like coffee, but I drink coffee in the mornings just to stay awake so I'm not blowing a teacher off," Williams said.

Onobun said he started taking naps, something he's never done before, on the days when there is no practice because it makes him feel re-energized.

"I used to look at my dad and be like, 'Why are you taking naps, old man?'" Onobun said. "I understand - because you're tired and your body is drained."

When they do get some free time, they like to play video-game football and sleep.

"We only have a few nights when we can go out and not worry about getting up in the morning," Prince said. "Now Sunday, that's your day. Every other day is dedicated to something."

"On (Sunday), I'm still trying to do laundry and homework," Onobun said. "You get to chill for a little, but still, you have to get ready for school the next day."

It may be the offseason, but there's been nothing easy about the freshmen's first few months on campus.

It's been a time for growing up away from home, and the three athletes are embracing it.

"This is your ticket," Williams said.


On being homesick:

Onobun: "When I first came here, I got real homesick quick. I wanted to go home. It was all right, but I wanted to go home, to lay in my own bed. It was weird. Now, I got it all out of my system. As far as I'm concerned, right now Tucson is my home, this is where my life is at, this is where the people I know are. My social life is in Tucson, regardless of whether I like it or not. Houston is where I'm from, but if I was to go back to Houston today, all my friends are gone, so what am I going to do? I'm just going to sit there."

On people's misconceptions:

Prince: "That's what makes you mad, when people say we have it easy, and (others) do everything for you. I'll be happy to switch a day with someone."

Williams: "Ain't nothing for free. A lot of people come at us and say you have someone to do your homework and someone to take your tests. We get stereotyped. It doesn't make me mad, but they're just hating for whatever reason. Like J.P. said, I'd like to switch shoes for a day. I don't want to switch shoes permanently, but nothing is for free. It's like a job, yet you don't get paid.

On college athletes getting paid:

Williams: One thing I do believe is athletes that play college sports should get some type of income other than to pay your rent and to eat. You have enough money to eat McDonald's every day. We have the same academic standards as a regular student, plus we have practice and we travel, especially in the (Pacific 10 Conference), when you're gone for two days of the week, on Thursdays and Fridays, when you're away from class.

On being Tayshaun's cousin:

Prince: (To) everybody, that's my No. 1 thing in the world. Regardless of who I speak to, I can't go through an interview without that (question being asked).

Williams: That's his name. It's not J.P. It's "Tayshaun's cousin."

Prince: It's like "Little Tayshaun." In Memphis they called me that.

On the small dorm-room beds:

Prince: I don't want a bigger bed. We have nowhere to put it.

Onobun: We can't do too much maneuvering. ... You have to just cuddle up.

Prince: I sleep like in a ball. I don't care. I just need something comfy to lay in.

On Onobun's tattoo, which says, "Fear Not Hold My Own" and shows a hand grabbing a basketball:

Onobun: It's something I got when I went home for summer school. It's something I wanted because my arms are kind of big and I got to tat' them up. I'm thinking about getting another one. Basically, I pertain this tattoo to life and basketball. It's saying that in this society, nothing is free and you have to work for what you want. No one is going to look after you better than yourself and no one knows you better than yourself. You can't be scared of no one. It's the business world, and you can't be afraid. Everyone's human just like you, and if you have dreams of what you want to accomplish in life, you shouldn't be scared to do so. Holding your own is about looking after yourself and doing your thing, by doing by you.

On jobs away from basketball:

Onobun: I want to do business marketing. By the grace of God, I want basketball to work out and hopefully take my talents to the NBA, just like all of us want to. But basketball isn't for everybody, and just in case, so I have something to fall back on, I want to do my studying in business. I feel like I work well with people, as far as being able to talk to them. I wouldn't mind going into business marketing and going to the Eller (College of Management) and getting some type of internship.

Williams: If I had to pick a job, I'd say sports agent. I want to be involved in sports, maybe a front-office job.

Prince: I can see myself coaching because my dad was a coach. Or maybe (I would be) a psychologist.

SUBHED: Profiles


Prince: Memphis, Tenn.

Onobun: Houston

Williams: Seattle

Height and Weight:

Prince: 6-foot-6, 180 pounds

Williams: 6-foot-7, 205 pounds

Onobun: 6-foot-6, 239 pounds

SUBHED: Favorites


Prince: Cassidy, battle rappers: "I like loud music because I'm from the South - the crunk stuff."

Williams: "Lil' Wayne, I'm into the lyrical thing. Jay-Z, Kanye West, old-school stuff like Biggie and Pac."

Onobun: Mike Jones, Paul Wall, SwishaHouse - "the screwed, slow-down music" - Lil' Wayne, Jadakiss, Cassidy. "But Wayne is definitely my favorite."


Prince: Anything funny: "The last funny movie I saw is 'The Longest Yard.'"

Williams: "Paid in Full"

Onobun: "No favorite, but the last movie I saw was 'Four Brothers.' It wasn't as good the second time. The funniest movie I saw this summer was 'Wedding Crashers.' I like basketball movies, too, like 'White Men Can't Jump' and 'Blue Chips.'"

Video Games:

Onobun: "I'll play once in a while, but that's them right there (points to Williams and Prince). They'd stay on the joysticks all day if they could."

Williams: "I play 'Madden,' but unless I'm playing against somebody, I'll only play for a short time. If me and J.P. are playing, we'll be talking to each other, and that makes it fun."

Prince: "NCAA Football 2006"

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