Former Peoria High School product DeWayne Russell has always prided himself on being an Arizona guy. He took that with him for a year up at Northern Arizona University and now that remains the same has he transferred from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon University to suit up for Dan Majerle and the ‘Lopes.
“It’s been going great,” Russell explained when asked about his adjustment to the new environment. “My grandma already went to every game but now it’s much easier for her just being ten minutes away. I get to see close and friends a lot more and they can come see me play. So it is cool.”
Russell, who was under recruited after winning a state title for Peoria his senior year, had a breakout freshman season for the Lumberjacks and at the time, first-year coach Jack Murphy. Just days before the start of his sophomore season, he decided to make the move back down the hill and transfer to GCU.
The decision to transfer forced him to sit out all last season. Sitting on the sidelines is not something he is used to. But he had good guidance and took advantage of all of that time to train and himself ready for when he could finally take the court with the ‘Lopes.
“It was really tough to sit out one whole year without basketball,” Russell said. “It is something I’ve never done before. But I had great teammates and coaches who told me that this is not time to rest. it’s not time to sob or be hurt or anything like that, it’s time to get better and I feel like I have. I’ve been in the weight room a lot and working on the jump shot with Coach Majerle. I am ready for this next year.”
Speaking of Coach Majerle. If anyone knows the legacy that his coach has being from the Phoenix area, it’s Russell who grew up in town and watched Majerle as a child. While it is different, he see’s his coach as a coach and not as the great player he looked up to growing up.
“He knows so much about the game,” Russell mentioned. “So I just have to make sure that I am listening and picking his brain every day. It is kind of weird because at first, you see him on TV and now he is in front of your face every day. But he is just a regular guy. He is cool and everything like that and this has been good for me.”
Majerle is not the only aspect of his new environment at GCU that he is familiar with. Two of his new teammates are players he faced while he was in high school in Arizona. Veteran senior from Mountain Pointe, Jerome Garrison, as well as new transfer from Washington State, who played high school ball at Sunnyslope, Royce Woolridge.
“When I first got here, Jerome welcomed me with open arms,” Russell explained. “And to see Royce coming in. You know me and Royce have a lot of history going up against each other in high school and AAU so it’s cool to be on the same team as some of these guys.”
The ‘Lopes basketball team have begun summer workouts on campus and Russell is working hard, learning and anxiously waiting his opportunity to get back onto the floor for a game with GCU.