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Arkansas Basketball - Jonathon Modica

CHN's Unofficial 2003 ABCD Camp Newsletter

July 7-11

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SEC Basketball News

Arkansas Basketball

Interview conducted by Scott Howes

June 24th, 2003

Discussion with Arkansas star Jonathon Modica

As a freshman last season, Jonathon Modica led Arkansas in scoring (11.5 ppg) and 3-point shooting (36%) while finishing 2nd in rebounding.  More recently, he was invited to try out for the US Junior National Team, and was one of 16 players to make the first cut.  "Pookie" Modica is certainly a name to look out for in the future.


Special Thanks goes to Robby Edwards, Arkansas' Assistant SID & Men's Basketball Contact, for his help in putting this interview together.

CHN) Now that your first season at Arkansas is behind you, what are your impressions of where the basketball program is at?


“We have a good recruiting class coming in this year and we have a good recruiting class coming in next year, so I think we’re headed for some good things. At big-time programs, winning isn’t a sometimes thing, it’s an all-the-time thing, and we’ll get back there. We’re on the way up, we’re back on the rise.”



CHN) How much of a factor was location in your decision to attend the University of Arkansas? In retrospect, are you glad you chose to stay within a 5-6 hour drive of home (Smackover, Ark.), as opposed to enrolling somewhere else possibly much farther away?


“That wasn’t really a factor at all. I went to Arkansas games when I was young and I just knew I wanted to be a Razorback. It didn’t matter of the University of Arkansas was 15 hours away, this is where I wanted to be. The fans and the facilities are great, and the program has been great. The fans get behind you and they stay with you. It’s a great place to play.”



CHN)  Not only did you play in every game for Arkansas this season, you led the team with an 11.5 PPG scoring average. You also ranked second on the club with 4.5 rebounds per game. What area of your game do you feel is the strongest? Which area do you feel the need to work on the most?


“As for strengths, I think I’m a tough, physical player. I’m usually stronger than other players at my position when I’m at shooting guard, so I can usually go in and rebound. Last year, I shot about 36 percent (.360 three-point percentage). Right now, my jumper feels really good and I hope I can shoot about 40-45 percent this year. As for weaknesses, I think I need to do a better job of getting my teammates involved and setting them up to score instead of just looking to score myself. I also need to work on my ball-handling. Everybody can always improve their ball-handling.



CHN) Statistically, your best game of the year may have come in the Razorbacks’ 77-66 loss at Florida on February 1st. You played a season high 34 minutes, scoring 26 points and adding 5 rebounds. You shot 7-12 from the field (58.3%), including 5 of 6 three pointers, and also hit 7 of 9 from the foul line. Was this the highlight of the season for you personally, or is there another game or moment that stands out in your mind as you look back?


“I had a good game at Florida, but we lost, so I don’t consider that a highlight. To me, the highlight of the season came when we beat Mississippi State (53-51). They just destroyed us at their place and then they came in here ranked (No. 20) and we beat them. I had only eight or 10 points in that game (eight points, seven rebounds, two assists), but that game really showed what kind of coaches, players and fans we have. That, to me, was the highlight.”


CHN) You’ve enjoyed a great deal of success playing on winning teams throughout your career (41-15 over your last two years of high school, for example). How hard was it to adjust to the frequent losses the Razorbacks suffered this season? Were any of the coaching staff or older players helpful to you in maintaining a positive attitude through what obviously was a difficult season?


“It was tough, but we stayed together and we were able to get a few big wins. I think that shows what kind of coaches and players we have here. We helped each other through it. We just went out, enjoyed the time we had to play and we were able to get some good wins. Our fans supported us throughout and we’re going to turn it around. We have some good players and we have some new players coming in who are really going to help us.”


CHN) You were honored by being selected as one of 51 players invited to the US Basketball tryouts in Colorado Springs. What did this mean for you personally in terms of the recognition of your abilities as a basketball player? How did the opportunity to compete for a spot representing your country fit in with your overall basketball goals?


"I never thought I would have this opportunity. I can remember when I was in ninth or 10th grade and watching Joe Johnson (former UA freshman All-American who was an NBA lottery pick following his sophomore season in 2001) and he made the team. I never thought I would be able to follow in his footsteps, even if just a little. God has really blessed me and I’m just thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given. It’s a great honor to make the team, if I make it, and it will be an even greater honor to represent our country and win a gold medal for our country."


CHN)  For fans who don’t already know, is it true your nickname is “Pookie”, and if so, where did that name originate?


“It’s true, my nickname is Pookie. I have it tattooed across my back, it’s about 12 or 13 inches long. Right next to the tattoo (to the left) is the name Sarah. That’s my grandmother. She’s the one that gave me the name when I was about one year old and it just stuck with me. It doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just something she liked calling me and that’s what I expect to be call. Most everybody that knows me knows me as Pookie, not Jonathon. I know some people may not want to call me that, and that’s okay, but that’s what I like to be called.”




Email Scott Howes with any questions, suggestions, or comments.



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