Jury in on ‘goofy’ Judge


Though I featured Wally Judge in an article that ran Tuesday, I feel like those 1,200 or so words did not convey just how much of a factor he is shaping up to be for the Wildcats. He has the body to make a huge impact on the court, but I believe his personality will allow him to be an even more influential leader and a great representative of K-State in general. I spent around 20 minutes questioning and listening to Judge at the basketball media day, and I can’t express, though certainly I’m going to try, how much he impressed me. His easy manner, good sense of humor, patience and candid responses endeared him to anyone within earshot. First off, this guy is hilarious – really. Some of my favorite moments that Wednesday were his references to senior teammate Jacob Pullen. He described the guard as a mentor, then added with a grin, “It’s kind of hard to look up to him since he’s 5-foot-8.” Later, the forward mentioned a moment he will never forget: Pullen telling him he could see him being a leader after Judge handled himself well at a press conference. As Judge described it, Pullen put his arm around the forward, “which shocked me, because I didn’t think he could reach.” Another smile. Teammate and roommate Nick Russell confirmed this jovial aspect of Judge’s personality, explaining that the forward’s big, tall body is a guise that hides his propensity for entertaining behavior. “You wouldn’t know, but he’s super goofy. He’s so goofy,” Russell said, laughing. He also mentioned how, while sitting in his room, he sometimes hears Judge randomly singing Justin Bieber songs or sees him run through the house, making weird noises. Russell, sophomore guard, said he loves being around Judge. Something else I noticed about Judge is how he appeared very much at ease with the whole environment. The sophomore stood and answered question after question after question, many of them ones he has heard many times before because reporters come and go at different times. Never did he give the impression he had something better to do or appear at all inconvenienced – though as a student athlete, I’m sure he is as busy as anyone else. His openness when answering the many probing questions of reporters spoke volumes. It showed confidence for him to speak about the pressure of expectations for him last year, about the loss to Butler that he still watches regularly, and about his maturation as a player. For a sophomore to respond modestly and realistically about being picked as preseason No. 1 in the Big 12 Conference shows the exact kind of maturity he talked about. His comfort with expectations – he said if you want to be the best, pressure is always on – also showed a certain grace beyond his 20 years. I also appreciated his heartfelt discussion about the influential women in his life – in particular, his mother and grandmother. Both their names are tattooed on his wrists, and he said he doesn’t know where he would be without them. His grandmother passed away during his junior year of high school, but his mother still watches his games on TV. He always has lots of voice mails from her after games, though he said he doesn’t know why; he describes his mom as an amazing woman who raised four boys by herself and never gave up but says, lovingly, that she doesn’t know a free throw from a touchdown. Head coach Frank Martin met Wally’s mom, and he described the family as “beautiful people that have fought numerous challenges to raise him and to make him just the great kid that he is.” To quote the coach, he’s a big-time kid. I couldn’t agree more. Ashley Dunkak is a sophomore in Spanish, journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to [email protected]