Nine days ago, Ekpe Udoh was introduced to Milwaukee as part of the deal that sent former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors.
He smiled and dutifully answered the few questions he was asked, but no doubt that night was about the other player acquired – Monta Ellis.
So much so that at one point Bucks general manager interrupted to talk specifically about Udoh, a mechanism often used by high school and college coaches to highlight the "try hard" kid on the team.
Udoh might bring energy to the floor, but just two years ago the 6-foot, 10-inch forward was the sixth overall pick out of Baylor University. He was drafted to give the Warriors an interior presence to go with Ellis, to be a building block. That's what top 10 picks are for.
Yet his NBA career sputtered out of the gate after tearing a ligament in his wrist shortly after the draft. Udoh missed 22 games his rookie year and felt he was just beginning to settle into a role with the Warriors. Now it's back to square one for the 25-year-old.
OnMilwaukee.com caught up with Udoh before Thursday night's game against Boston to talk about the trade, his adjustment to a new team and settling in Milwaukee.
OnMilwaukee.com: How did you hear about the trade?
Ekpe Udoh: I walking into the locker room and looking at the television screen in Sacramento and ... what did it say ... 'Warriors have acquired Andrew Bogut and (Stephen) Jackson for Monta' and I seen my name and I was like 'Oh, man.' That was tough. Especially before a game.
OMC: That's how you heard?
EU: Yeah. Somebody said it might happen, but to see it on the TV, I was like 'Man.' Before a game ... I understand it's a business but somebody can tell you a couple days before, watch out, this might happen.
OMC: Did someone then come in to talk to you?
EU: Coach (Mark) Jackson told me right before I walked in the locker room it was a possibility and then I seen it on the TV screen. I just called my brother and told him to come get me.
OMC: Players often say being traded creates a weird feeling – you're being let go from a place you know, yet you're going somewhere where they want you. Is that the case?
EU: I just got over it. I guess I didn't do my job almost, you know, to an extent where another team wanted me to come in and give them what I can.
OMC: How you do feel overall? You had the wrist injury...
EU: It's been back-to-back, something's always happening. This will be a good summer for me. It's the first time I'll work with the team. Last summer I graduated (from Baylor) and then dealing with the lock out (this year) and in the first year my wrist (was injured). I just have to keep getting better and this will be a big summer for me.
OMC: How will you approach this offseason – do you want to find a place to live here to work on your game?
EU: Probably. I'm going to talk to (the organization) and see if I'm going to stay out here the whole summer and do something like that. Just stay in communication with the team.
OMC: What did you hear about Milwaukee?
EU: Oh, man, this weather right now never happens. I went to (the University of) Michigan for two years, so the winters won't be that bad to me. I know it's a hard working town so I'm just going to fit right in.
OMC: Where do you feel you're at with your game? Do you feel you haven't been really able to get going?
EU: I felt like I was starting to with the Warriors. I was starting to come into my own, hitting jump shots and working hard after practice with coach (Wes) Unseld and now you get traded and you have to figure it out again. Because here, with 30 assists, you don't see that too much so you've got to get used to that. You've got to watch the players because they feed off each other really well here. They know how to play with each other so you've got to come in and try to know your role.
OMC: Does all the ball sharing make it easier for you to adjust here, or more difficult?
EU: It's good and bad. It's always great to get 30 assists but I'm not used to it. Sometimes you catch me standing because there's so much movement.
OMC: Good that Monta is here with you as well?
EU: I'm glad somebody's here who I can talk to. If not, I don't know, I'd be shell-shocked. It's good.
OMC: Joining the playoff race – does it help the adjustment jumping into that or is it more difficult in that you're still trying to get settled but the games mean so much?
EU: I don't know how to really go about answering that. All we can do is control how we play. All the other stuff will take care of itself. If we go out and take care of the ball the way we have, get stops defensively, play together and talk on defense, all that other stuff will settle itself out.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.