January 17, 2008

GoPowercat Q&A: Clent Stewart

As one of just three active seniors on an otherwise freshmen-laden team, Kansas State guard Clent Stewart has been forced to bear the brunt of the leadership duties in the Wildcats' locker room this season. The Tulsa native has more than enough on his plate at the moment, byt he still found time to discuss a wide array of topics with GoPowercat.com during an exclusive interview.

How's the injured back feeling?
It's going good. My back was brutal before the last game. Actually, it was pretty sore all last week, but I think the game helped it out a little.

How does playing a game help an injury heal? That doesn't seem to make much sense.
That's what I was thinking. I was expecting it to be sorer on Sunday, but I woke up and it felt pretty good. I guess I stretched it out and got some blood flowing through the muscles or something.

So you'll be 100 percent for the game against Texas A&M on Saturday?
Without a doubt.

You've played under three different coaches at Kansas State in Jim Wooldridge, Bob Huggins and now Frank Martin. Can you describe your relationship with each one of them? Which one are you closest with?
I would definitely say I'm closest to Coach Martin. Obviously, Coach Wooldridge recruited me, and he's a really good guy. He's still close to mom, but I had to move on from that when Coach Huggins came in for one year, He was really tough. I think Coach Martin is the most personable. He cares about us. We can go up to his office and talk to him any time of day. On the court, he's our coach, but outside of that, he's almost like a friend. It's good to have a guy that really cares about you coaching you.

You said Coach Wooldridge checks in on your mom from time to time. Do you still keep in contact with him too?
As a matter of fact, I haven't talked to coach since he left K-State, but I know my mom has talked to him several times. He still calls her to check up her condition. Every couple months my mom will tell me, "Coach Wooldridge called me to check in on me today." It's kind of good to see he still cares enough to check in on my mom.

Being a senior, you've been through some rough seasons at Kansas State. How does being a part of a team that has so much potential feel?
It's big. I've never been 1-0 in the Big 12. It's almost like having a leg up. You're not playing catch up anymore. We're playing out in front. That's big when your getting ready for a team like Texas A&M. They have so many good players and such a good team, but being 1-0 gives us confidence going into this. This team is fun to play with. We have guys inside like Mike Beasley and Bill Walker that can make all kinds of shots. On the perimeter, we have quick guys like (Blake Young) and ([/db]Jacob Pullen[/db]). It's different this year.

With the abundance of talent on this year's team, do you ever find yourself reminding these freshmen that it hasn't always been like this?
I think they understood that when they came in. K-State hasn't been to a NCAA Tournament since 1996, and they knew that coming in, but that's why they came here. These guys want to change that. They want to get things back to the kind of tradition a lot of older people are used to. There was once a basketball powerhouse here, and that's what we're trying to get back.

Have you taken it upon yourself to act as a mentor for Jake and Fred Brown
I think the biggest thing is helping them through the learning process. My job is to help them understand that bad things happen. Things are going to happen in the game, they have to learn to put it behind them and keep going. I keep them under my watch and help those two out as much as possible.

Beyond this year, what does the future hold for Clent Stewart?
I'm not really sure. I have a job offer with Conoco Phillips, an oil company back in Boswell, Okla. My girlfriend is from Kansas City, so I'm going to try to work things out with that. Hopefully, I'll be able to come back for a few games next year, because I think these guys are going to be pretty good.

Being from Tulsa, did you have a lot of friends and family in the stands during the win at Oklahoma?
My mother and father actually live in Norman (Okla.) now, so I had a lot of friends and family there. My aunt flew in from Alabama too. It was nice playing in front of the people that I love, and the people that love me. It made that win a little sweeter.

One of the other senior leaders on this team, David Hoskins hasn't been able to play a minute this year. How is he dealing with watching this team have success without him?
It's tough on him. Any time you get an injury when you're expected to play so well, it hurts. He was expected to come in and make an impact with all of these new guys, and it was taken away from him just like that. It was very tough on him at first, but he got to go home for a while over break. I think that really helped him out. He came back with a different attitude. He knows we need him here even though he's not playing. We need him here to help these young guys out.

How exactly does Dave contribute to this team without playing? Is there anything specific?
I don't know if you noticed, but during the Oklahoma game, he was right there in the huddle helping us out. I call him another coach. Being a fifth-year senior, he understands the game more than everyone else. He's just there to tell us what to look for.

Does he ever talk about the possibility of staying for a sixth year?
The other day he said, "Stew, I don't know how you're going to get out of here before I do." He's excited to get the surgery done, get back healthy and see what the future holds.

What does Dave think his chances are when it comes to being granted another year of eligibility?
It's been brought up. If he does come back, he'll have a good year. He still has a future in front of him though. He has to lay out the options before he makes a decision.

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