As an athletic forward, D.J. Shumpert might be earning significant minutes now for George Washington, UAB or UNLV - among the other programs that wanted him out of Santa Rita High School in 2008.
Instead, the 6-foot-7 sophomore is averaging 2.2 minutes with four "did not play" games for the Arizona Wildcats … and he isn't complaining one bit.
Partly because Shumpert loves where he's at and partly because, well, the hometown player is never complaining.
"D.J., to me, is a fun-loving, great kid," UA coach Sean Miller said. "He's very popular with his teammates. He does everything you ask as a coach. To me, he's one of those people representing Arizona in the right way. He comes to practice every day with a smile on his face and does a nice job."
While Shumpert doesn't have guaranteed minutes, he does have a guaranteed scholarship offer, after Miller assured him last spring it would be renewed, even though former UA coach Lute Olson offered him only a conditional scholarship.
"He earned it, especially in the situation we're currently in," Miller said. "He earns it every day."
Miller did not play Shumpert in the Maui Invitational nor against UNLV, but has in the Wildcats' past three games, including five minutes at Oklahoma and a first-half minute against Louisiana Tech.
Shumpert discussed his outlook during a recent interview:
Q: Are you happy with your role?
A: I'm just glad to be on the team. Of course I want to play more, but I'm gonna do whatever coach feels is the best role for me, to come in for three minutes or come in for 20 minutes. Whenever I go in there, I know what I have to do. Just get a rebound, maybe get fouled, put it back up, set screens, be an energy guy.
Q: Do you feel Miller trusts you more now?
A: He said I've been working real hard and he's recognized that, and that if he needs to lean on me, be ready.
Q: Was that reassuring when Miller said he'd renew your scholarship?
A: I had a meeting with him and he said, 'Of course, you'll always be a member of this team.' Most people say it's just because from Tucson, but that's not the reason. If I didn't earn it, he wouldn't keep it.
Q: Do you ever wonder what it would be like elsewhere?
A: Especially last year, I always wondered if I made the right decision about being here. But God put me here for a reason. If I keep doing my role, hopefully my role will expand and I can be a contributor here because this is where I always wanted to be at.
Q: What's it like being part of the UA program after growing up around it?
A: I've always been watching the greats, watching Gilbert (Arenas), Jason Terry, (Miles) Simon, Luke Walton, everybody. And I always wished that could be me. To have an opportunity to come in and be a contributor on the team … it's just a dream come true. This is what every Tucson kid dreams about doing.
Q: What's been the most fun so far?
A: The Hawaii trip. We stayed right on the beach. We were swimming out there, jumping off the rocks. It was fun.
Q: Miller let you jump off rocks?
A: Well, it was kind of secret.
Q: Any other favorite memories so far?
A: Going to the Sweet 16 (last season). That was crazy. Being in the Colts (Lucas Oil) stadium. I played in that game, too.
Q: Did you improve anything in your game last season?
A: Coach (Mike) Dunlap had me in the gym every day working with him. I felt like when I first got here I wasn't that good at all. Now I feel more confident in my game. Coach Dunlap was always on me to do stuff right. It really helped me this year because Coach Miller expects the same thing.
Q: Going forward, do you feel you're mostly a four (power forward)?
A: Probably a four because I am athletic and I can rebound. I kind of like playing in the post, getting physical.
Q: But do you have to put on more weight?
A: I think so. I'm probably 200 now but need to put on 20 more pounds at least. I was 177 (entering UA).
Q: Is it hard for you to put weight on?
A: Yeah. I eat like a horse. Doesn't do anything.
On StarNet: Follow Arizona Wildcat basketball on reporter Bruce Pascoe's blog at go.azstarnet.com/pascoe