Tag Archive | "former Hokies"

Phoenix Suns sign former Hokies Zabian Dowdell for remainder of the season

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell was signed for the remainder of the 2010-11 NBA season by the Phoenix Suns

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell was signed for the remainder of the 2010-11 NBA season by the Phoenix Suns

Former Virginia Tech Hokies standout Zabian Dowdell finally made it to the NBA. As the end of his second 10-day contract neared an end, the Phoenix Suns called him into the film room following Friday night’s loss to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City and told the 26-year-old rookie that they were signing him for the remainder of the season.

Dowdell was originally signed to be a practice player to rest veteran Steve Nash during practices. But after an injury to Goran Dragic (cut his heel on broken glass) Dowdell actually got some significant playing time in the NBA and he played well. The Hokie from Pahokee (Fla.) scored 12 points, registered six assists, committed six turnovers and came up with three steals in 37 minutes over three games last week.

TechHoops.com recently published a three-part audio interview with Zabian. In case you missed them, go here.

Read more about Dowdell and his new contract with the Suns.

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NBA’s Phoenix Suns Sign former Hokie Dowdell to another 10-day Contract

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell signed another 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns.

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell signed another 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns signed former Virginia Tech standout guard Zabian Dowdell to another 10-day contract on Thursday, Jan. 27, according to the NBA team’s official website.

Dowdell has spent the last three seasons playing in Europe and most recently for the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA’s Development League, where he played in 18 games and averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 29.3 minutes. He played in 10 games for the 66ers during the 2009-10 season.

The 6-3, 191-pound Dowdell was part of the Suns’ training camp last fall, but was cut about a week before the start of the season. His first stint in the NBA began on Jan. 9, 2011, when he signed his first 10-day contract. The former Hokie appeared in two games in his initial tenure with Phoenix.

Dowdell is one of the most beloved Tech basketball players in recent memory. He was a standout for four seasons at Virginia Tech (2003-07) and was a 2006-07 All-ACC first team selection and a two-time All-ACC defensive team selection.

Congratulations to Zabe and good luck!

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Zabian Dowdell Not Resigned by Phoenix

When former Hokie and All-ACC First Teamer Zabian Dowdell’s 10-day contract ran out on January 19th, the Phoenix Suns elected not to sign him to another 10-day contract or for the rest of the season. ?Dowdell played in two games – 4 points in 12 minutes in a woodshed beating, and going 0/1 in 1 minute against Portland.

Unfortunately, it might be back to the D-League and the Tulsa 66ers for Dowdell.

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Zabian Dowdell Signs, Makes Debut with the Phoenix Suns

Update: Zabian Dowdell (LINK) made his NBA debut on Tuesday night!  He entered the game for the Phoenix Suns against the Denver Nuggets at the start of the 4th quarter.  Unfortunately, it took a 30-point deficit for the Suns to get Dowdell in.  After jumping out to a 32-20 lead at the end of one, Denver outscored Phoenix 82-40 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to turn the game into a woodshed beating.  He scored his first career points later on in the quarter, hitting a couple of free throws.  After missing his first three shots, Dowdell hit a 19-foot jumper for his first career field goal.  Zabe finished 1/6 (most were outside jumpers) with 4 points and added a rebound, 2 assists, and steal in 12 minutes.

This might not get the national fanfare of when Shaq went to the Phoenix Suns (a.k.a.: The Big Cactus), but our beloved Zabian Dowdell has finally made it to the NBA.  Zabe signed a 10-day contract to play for the Suns (these contracts are standard with fill-ins while a team gets a chance to see if they want to keep a player longer term).  He will wear #22 for the Suns.

Dowdell played with the Suns’ Summer League team the last two years but was cut in training camp before this season.  He then played for the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA D-League before the Suns picked him up.  Zabe was averaging 14.5 ppg and 5.6 apg in the Developmental League.

Zabian still sits in 8th on the Hokies’ career scoring list, 6th in assists, and 3rd in steals.

Dowdell did not play in the game Sunday night, but he had just signed that day.  One site claims the signing is more for practice purposes and that he might not see the court much, if at all (he’s behind Steve Nash and Goran Dragic).  Here’s hoping the former Hokie First Team All-ACC player gets a chance to show his stuff, at least a little bit, during this 10 day stretch.  The Suns next game is Tuesday and they play five games total during those 10 days.

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Interview with Ace Custis | Part 2

With March 29th marking the 15th anniversary of Virginia Tech’s 1995 NIT Championship Game win over marquette, Niemo spoke with the star of that team, Adrian “Ace” Custis, right after he helped his Panasonic Trians team clinch a playoff spot in the Japanese Professional League.  Ace is married with two sons, Charles and Ace Jr (Deuce), with a third son (Evan) expected today, March 30th!

Part 1 of the interview focused on that 1995 NIT Championship run, Ace’s Hokie career, and his memories of Virginia Tech.  Could we see Coach Custis some day?  Ace Custis Interview Part 1

Click on the Play icon below to listen to Part 2, which dives into his professional playing career and his life in general.  And he answers how he got the nickname “Ace”.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Here is the transcript from Part 2 if you cannot listen to it.  Please note the transcript was done by a third party so please excuse any typos, misunderstandings, and the capitalization of other schools.

Niemo: So tell me more about playing in Japan and playing for the Panasonic Trians. How’s that going?
Ace Custis: I play here in Japan. This is my seventh season here. I played the first three years with a team called OSG Phoenix and then I changed teams and I came to Panasonic.
Playing basketball here, I mean it’s great. It’s first class. They treat you with so much professionalism. Everything is on time, what I mean on time, your money, your services, anything you need is first class.
This is my fourth season here. We just won today. We advanced to the playoffs, which starts next weekend. We are the 3rd seed. We’re playing the number 2 seed. So hopefully we can go in and play well against them.
You know, playing basketball here in Japan I mean, I’ve loved it. I’ve loved it for the last 7 years. I played other places during the summertime, over the last 7 years, but you know, I really love Japan.
Niemo: You’ve also played in other places like Italy, Syria, Lebanon and the Philippines. What’s the favorite place you’ve played? Is it Japan?
Ace Custis: I’ve never played in Italy. I’ve played in the Philippines. I’ve played in Lebanon, Philippines, Syria, Qatar, Venezuela. I’ve played in a lot of different places. My favorite was probably Lebanon because everyone speaks English, basketball is so competitive, and I really, really enjoyed my time there.
Ace Custis: Japan, I really love it here. Now they’ve changed the rule the last two years that you can only have one import on the court.
So I only play 18, 19 minutes of the game. So the stats, you don’t get your own personal stats and all that which is fine with me. I’m about winning. I don’t care about the stats. But, as a competitor, I want to be on the court and during the crunch time of the game.
Niemo: Right.
Ace Custis: Some times I wanna be on the court but playing 17, 18, 19 minutes a game sometimes 20 minutes you don’t be on the court during the crunch time.
So, it is kinda difficult with this new rule. You know, a lot of my friends always say wow, you only averaged 10 points. 5 rebounds? Wow, that’s terrible. But they don’t know that I’m only playing half the game.
Niemo: [laugh] Right. Yeah I was wondering why your rebound numbers were down but that explains it
Ace Custis: My teammate now here, his name is Jerald Honeycutt, and he was in here. Yeah, he was in, he just came to hear, and when I was talking about, uh, um, Kentucky players. He’s the one told me Derek Anderson, naming some more players during our time. Um, he was like, back then I didn’t shoot 3 pointers. Now, all I do is shoot 3s.
Niemo: Yeah, I remember him from Tulane.
Yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. I was checking out your stats and seeing you’re hitting about 35% and cranking up about 4 three-pointers a game.
Ace Custis: Most of the year I was like 42%. But then I ran into a little slump and I started shooting bad from 3. But, you know, playing overseas I had to adjust my game. And so I stayed in the gym, working on my perimeter game, shooting more 3s.
Because when I was with the Dallas Mavericks, I played the 2-3. So the guy’s like, “Ace, you need to work on your range”. So I stayed in the gym with Hubert Davis and we was always shooting jumpers and working out and trying to improve my range.
Now I don’t go inside too much. I like shooting the ball outside [laugh], staying outside.
Niemo: What’s the coolest place, what’s the most interesting site you’ve seen in your travels?
Ace Custis: As far as basketball?
Niemo: Well, let’s say for example I went to Rome 5 years ago and I loved the coliseum. That was really interesting for me. What’s something really neat you’ve been able to see on your travels, that stands out above the others?
Ace Custis: For me, traveling, I appreciate it. I’ve seen the world, thanks to basketball giving me the opportunity and opened doors for me. But, for me it’s a job. So, you know, my mom always tell me, “Ace, take pictures.” I’ve never taken pictures overseas.
I tell her it’s my memories. So my wife comes over and see she takes pictures, but for me, I’ve never really taken pictures. It’s a job for me.
I don’t go sightseeing. I don’t go to the mosque, and I don’t go to the temples in Japan. I don’t do all the sightseeing. I go to the gym. I go to practice. I do my job, and then I go home.
I know it sounds a little boring, but that’s how I approach.
Niemo: But hey, that’s you and that’s your work ethic. It’s gotten you a good career.
I think I know the answer to this one looking back on that answer. Do you wish you could have spent your entire career in the NBA here in the states or are you glad to have had the experiences of the world you have had?
Ace Custis: [laugh] If you told me 20 years ago that I would be playing basketball in Japan overseas, I would have laughed in your face. You know, me and Honeycutt was talking about that 2 weeks ago. Cuz you know, he was highly recruited out of high school and he was a McDonald’s All-American. He played in the NBA for a while. And we were saying, “Who thought we would be teammates in Japan?”
Playing basketball in the NBA was the greatest experience of my life, when I was with the Dallas Mavericks for that year that I was on injury reserve. I mean everything is 1st class. Everything is so professional. And even when you get injured.
The treatment that you receive is top of the line. So you get the best treatment and we are not even gonna talk about salary because, you know, playing in the NBA gives you the opportunity so you can make a good living for yourself and your family. So I would love to have had an entire career in the NBA. I look at guys that are still in the NBA from when I was playing and you know, I’m friends with a lot of those guys. I met and seen and played against in college and different tournaments. I’m happy for those guys who still in the NBA still doing their thing and still playing well.
Niemo: You mentioned you got married 8 years ago. What’s your wife’s name?
Ace Custis: Her name is Denedra, You know she went to Virginia Tech, she’s a Virginia Tech alumni as well.
And she’s having a kid too, well, not she, WE are having a kid this week coming up. She’s supposed to have the baby on Tuesday.
Niemo: Oh wow!
Ace Custis: March 30. So, you know, life, playing overseas. I can’t make it home for the delivery because we’re in the playoffs. So you know, I, I told her, I told her blame me. It’s called bad timing. I was I was a couple weeks old.
Niemo: [laugh]
Ace Custis: But you know I was not want to be there for my family, but I have a job to do and I can’t let my teammates down. And to go home for the delivery then come back because we are in the playoffs coming up. So if we lose the season’s over.
It’s a boy, and we’re gonna name him Evan.
Niemo: What are the other two sons’ names, if you don’t mind me asking?
Ace Custis: I had my other son when I was at Virginia Tech. His name is Charles. And then my second son, he’ll be five in May, his name is Adrian Custis, the 2nd. Nicknamed Deuce.
Niemo: Now let me ask you real quick how did you get the nickname Ace?
Ace Custis: Ah, my grandfather gave it to me when I was a little kid. I was always around my grandparents when I was growing up and you know, we used to cut grass, go fishing and do all the things men do. As he would say, “You know, I was his number 1 ace.” No matter what he did I’d try to do it. Emulating what he was doing. And he said I was his number 1 ace. So everyone started calling me ace in my family.
I started playing little league sports. Everybody started calling me Ace. So the newspapers and coaches and teachers and everybody continues to call me Ace. So it, it kind of stuck with me from there.
Niemo: Do you have any final thoughts or stories you’d want to share with me?
Ace Custis: You know, I’m a Hokie for life.
My kids, my family, everyone is Hokies. My mom tunes in, watches Virginia Tech no matter what it is on, on TV. It could be any sport. Any time you talk about Virginia Tech my family tunes in. And, you know we are proud Hokies.
Virginia Tech has done so much for me and I will always be proud to call myself a Hokie.
I look forward to Virginia Tech’s success in all that they do in all sports. And I will always support, and acknowledge Virginia Tech.
Niemo: Yeah that’s great. I think that’s the way pretty much all of us feel that we all feel about VT that went there.
Ace Custis: You know, in my area. I live in Suffolk. I live in Suffolk during the off-season. There are a lot of Virginia Tech alumni there. And one of the biggest supporters I ever think I’ve known is a guy named Mark Edwards. Me and him played in a 30 and over league last year. And we won the first championship in his 12 years of playing. In the 30 and over league.
And he actually played in the same practice jersey that I played in when I was at Virginia Tech. He bought it all off Ebay.
So I used my practice jersey to play in the 30 and over leagues. I went to his house and I don’t think there’s a Virginia Tech alumni with more Virginia Tech memorabilia.
He had a room dedicated to Virginia Tech.
Niemo: [laugh]
Ace Custis: To see someone so Hokie oriented, I mean that can bring a smile upon your face.
Niemo: Right, yup, I mean that’s Hokie Nation right there. Ace, thank you so much for doing this. Good luck to you with Evan coming up in a couple of days and also in the playoffs with Panasonic.
Ace Custis: Alright, appreciate it.
Niemo: Alright, thanks so much.
Congratulations in advance on the birth of your third son.
Ace Custis: I greatly appreciate it.

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Interview with Ace Custis | Part 1

With March 29th marking the 15th anniversary of Virginia Tech’s 1995 NIT Championship Game win over marquette, Niemo spoke with the star of that team, Adrian “Ace” Custis, right after he helped his Panasonic Trians team clinch a playoff spot in the Japanese Professional League.

Ace was the ultimate team player at Virginia Tech, but he still stands tall in the Virginia Tech record books.  He ranks:

  • 9th all time in points with 1706
  • 3rd all time in rebounds with 1177
  • 6th all time in steals with 199
  • First Team All-Metro Conference in 1995 and First Team All-Atlantic 10 in 1996 and 1997

At the end of his career, Ace’s #20 was retired and hangs from the rafters of Cassell Coliseum, one of just four retired numbers.

Part 1 of the interview focuses on that 1995 NIT Championship run, Ace’s Hokie career, and his memories of Virginia Tech.  Could we see Coach Custis some day?  Click the Play icon below to listen to the interview to find out.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Part 2, which will be posted on Tuesday evening, dives into his professional playing career and his life in general.  And he answers how he got the nickname “Ace”.

Here is the transcript from Part 1 if you cannot listen to it.  Please note the transcript was done by a third party so please excuse any typos, misunderstandings, and the capitalization of other schools.

Niemo: The 1995 NIT Championship was 15 years ago Monday, tell me what comes to mind when you hear that.
Ace Custis: Travis Jackson’s shot against New Mexico State. Shawn Smith hitting the free throws against Marquette in Madison Square Garden. It seems like yesterday, but 15 years, wow, time has passed so fast.
Niemo: Right, right. [laugh] You mentioned the, the shot by Travis from the left elbow extended at the end of the New Mexico State game [at the end of the NIT Quarterfinal game to propel VT to New York], and then the madness after that of everyone running out on the court. What was that like?
Ace Custis: Actually, I was kinda scared because I was on the bottom of the pile, and that was my first time being on the bottom of the pile. And if you’ve never been on the bottom of the pile, that’s somewhere you don’t wanna be.
I mean I remember that day so vivid because I was on the bottom and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move.
Niemo: [laugh]
Ace Custis: The pile’s getting heavier and heavier. And I’ve, I’ve always been a thin framed person. So, that was kinda hurting.
Ace Custis: I was kind of nervous, and then I was so excited when the pile loosened up and everyone started standing up and started celebrating. So, wow, what a moment. I really remember that.
Ace Custis: Everybody always joked me, why didn’t I take the shot at the top of the key when I caught it and I reversed it to Travis. But, I thought he had a better look, so I gave it to him and, you know, Travis he, even in practice, Travis always got nice sweet jumper.
Ace Custis: Very soft jumper, so I, you know? I was taking my chance on Travis hitting the open jump shot. And he came through and hit the jump shot.
Niemo: Well hey, it worked out.
Ace Custis: Yes.
Niemo: And then the Marquette game [in the NIT Championship], that came down to two free throws by Smitty at the very end, when we were down by one point, with just a couple seconds left. Walk me through what those final seconds were like.
Ace Custis: Yes, I remember Shawn Smith getting fouled. It was actually 0.7 seconds left in the game. And then they called time out. We went to the bench. And he was real calm on the bench. And he was like, “You know, no problem. I got these 2 free throws.”
And when we were back on the court he called he sank the 2 free throws with 0.7 seconds you know, he came through in a tough situation.
Niemo: Right, right, yup, definitely. And then what was that like after the game? What was the celebration like up in New York?
Ace Custis: You know, Quinton being my cousin. He came to the hotel. And we celebrated. You know, and we partied. Had fun in the hotel. And got back on the plane and went home the next day.
It’s a moment in life that I’ll never forget. Being in Madison Square Garden, Shawn hitting those free throws, cutting down the nets, and celebrating. You know, we were celebrating because we won the NIT.
But we also were celebrating because we knew we deserved to be in the NCAA tournament. But we wanted to prove that we belonged in the tournament so that was our whole goal going to the NIT proving that we should’ve been in the NCAA tournament.
Niemo: Right.
Yeah, I mean you guys were a team that played #3, North Carolina, very tough down in Greensboro that year and also #13 UVA, losing by just 1 point when they were ranked in the top 15 too.
Ace Custis: UMass was number 1 and we were number 8 at the time, we played them at Cassell Coliseum.
That, that just shows, you know, over the years when we were on the borderline at Virginia Tech. When we were on the borderline of making the NCAA/NIT we always end up in the NIT You know the guys had a good run this year. I was watching and following the NIT this year.
And, you know, I talked to Malcolm a couple times, Delaney a couple times on Facebook, wishing him luck and, hoping they made it to the championship. They came up a little short against Rhode Island, but I’m happy for the team. They play hard, stay together as a unit.
Niemo: There may be big things next year with them, too.
Ace Custis: Yes, one positive thing about it [in 1995], we got the experience of the NIT. Same thing happened my sophomore year. We won the NIT and we had a very young team. So, we came back the next year. Our goal was the NCAA tournament and we made it to the NCAA.
Niemo: Right.
Ace Custis: Unlucky for us, we ran into Kentucky who eventually won the NCAA championship that year. We played them in the second round in Dallas, Texas.
So, you know, that was our whole motivation. We don’t want to go back to NIT, we want to go to the NCAA. That’s what we did. So hopefully the guys this year at Virginia Tech have the same in target. They want to go to the NCAA this year.
Niemo: Well, the committee couldn’t keep you out of the NCAA tournament in ‘96, but they did kind of screw you guys by giving you, I think you were either a number eight or a number nine seat and then obviously had that win over Wisconsin-Green Bay and then got stuck with that juggernaut Kentucky team that I think had, who’d they have? They had Mashburn?
Ace Custis: No, they didn’t have Mashburn. They had uh, Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, Tony Delk. They had Derek Anderson.
Let me see who uh, I can’t remember who else they have but those that keep.
Niemo: Yeah right there, at least 3 guys have played, played in the NBA for a while, so.
Ace Custis: And that’s the year he won the NCAA tournament.
Niemo: Yes. Now, let me ask you about that. Which meant more, winning the NIT the year before, or making it to the second round of the Big Dance the following year?
Ace Custis: You know, everybody want to make it to the NCAA tournament. But, for me, I had more gratification in winning the NIT tournament because we ended the season on a winning note. And only two teams ended the season on a winning note. That’s the NIT champions and the NCAA champions. And we ended the season on a good note and it was a good run for us.
And, by winning the championship you know, that was very gratifying for me. Um, personally, but you know.
Niemo: It gave you a lot of momentum and going into the offseason.
Ace Custis: Exactly. But you know, the NCAA you know, everybody wanna make it to the NCAA with the Hokie chances of making it to the championship. But, we got the unlucky draw facing the number 1 seed in the second round that was actually playing well at the time.
Niemo: Right. Yeah, and I, I don’t know how much you know about this. But obviously that NIT title meant a lot to the students, too. We shut down Main Street that night. Everyone just filtered out of their dorms and apartments and fraternity houses.
And streamed downtown and, and shut down the street for several hours, just going nuts. We turned it into Bourbon Street more or less.
Ace Custis: Yeah, I still remember that night. We were in New York. And we were in the hotel, and everybody was saying that Main Street downtown, back then it was Arnold’s. They said Arnold’s had shut down, everything, everybody had poured out into the streets, college park apartments. They was having like people was burning sofas and were celebrating by the pool in College Park Apartments. I mean, we were up in New York and people was calling us on the cell phones telling us what was going on in Blacksburg.
And when we came back, you know everybody welcomed us. And Lord knows with open arms. And then, we came back downtown, it was a whole other party for us.
Niemo: [laugh] Ahh that’s great.
Which of your former teammates do you still stay in touch with from your playing days.
Ace Custis: Basically, I’m in touch with everybody. Whenever anybody wants somebody’s number they always call me and ask me for a person’s number because I never lost contact with many of the players. If I don’t have that number I know how to get that number. And then, now with Facebook.
I’m pretty much in contact with everybody. I talk to everybody on a regular basis, especially during summertime when I’m in the States. I always stay in contact with everybody. And when they had the NIT reunion a couple years ago, at Cassell Coliseum.
The organizer for that Jimmy Lawrence, called me and got everybody phone numbers because he was trying to get in contact with everybody.
Niemo: [laugh]
Ace Custis: I was so close to those guys and, you know, we were such a family. I want to get into coaching after I finish my career and playing, and I want to instill in my players what we experienced as a unit at Virginia Tech during those years.
Because, we were a true family.
Ace Custis: On and off the court.
Niemo: Now you know a couple of your former teammates are back in the area. David’s obviously [David Jackson’s] helping out with the program. As a strength and conditioning coach. And then Shawn Good’s the head coach over at Christiansburg. Is there a chance you might make it back to the Blacksburg area someday?
Ace Custis: I would love to be in Blacksburg. Last year they had that opening at Virginia Tech. I had called Seth Greenberg trying to get onto the staff. I would love to be on Virginia Tech’s staff one day, if possible, but you know…
Out of respect he said, honestly he needed somebody with recruiting experience. And that I do not have. I have the knowledge and everything of basketball, but the recruitment aspect, I don’t have that.
You know I respect what Seth’s doing for the program. He means a whole lot to Virginia Tech. So I wasn’t upset when he told me he needed somebody with experience in recruiting. So I would love to be in Blacksburg.
Living and raising my family because what greater place to raise a family then Blacksburg.
Niemo: Right, exactly. Now off the court, what were your favorite memories of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech?
Ace Custis: Ah, I mean I have so many memories of there.
Niemo: I see Arnold’s, Arnold’s must have been one, huh?
Ace Custis: You know, I crossed paths with Arnold’s a couple of times or two. [laugh] You know, I have a whole lot of memories, just having house parties and playing spades, and just the camaraderie, you know, being with the football players and the student body as a whole. I’m a people’s person. So, I wasn’t always around the basketball players even though they were my extended family, away from home. I was always involved in other activities, going to other parties, being around other people, just meeting and greeting and enjoying my college experience.
Niemo: Now you ranked ninth all time on the scoring list, third in rebounds, and sixth in steals. What do you think was your best attribute as a player when you were at Virginia Tech?
Ace Custis: Solid coaches, great players around, you know.
We didn’t care about stats. And a lot of times in today’s basketball game a lot of players care about their own numbers. But back then, we didn’t care who received the ink, as we said back then. We didn’t care who received the ink in the newspaper.
We never, we didn’t care who got the post-game interviews. All we cared about was the W’s. So, you know, I’m not, I wasn’t a big time scorer, or whatever. But my teammates, Shawn Good, Damon Wallington, those guys found me when I was open.
And Coach Hussey, he always told me, “Ace, work hard and everything will work its way out”. It upset me when I was unable to attend his funeral a couple years ago.
And you know, he came to my wedding when I got married eight years ago. And he gave a speech at my wedding. And you know, he was really, really, really a person that I looked up to.
I still stay in contact with his wife. I call and check on his wife to make sure she’s doin’ fine. And because of the type of person he was, when I first came to Virginia Tech he told me in his office, “Ace, my job is to make sure you the best basketball player possible when you leave Virginia Tech. And all I asked you to do is meet me halfway.”
And he said through my work ethic then there would be a brighter side to it. And that’s what happened. I stayed in the gym and worked on my game and tried to improve and do the little things that he asked me to do. And it not only became, made me a better basketball player, it made me a better person.
Niemo: Now you may not have cared about the ink but you’ve got pretty good ink now. When you go through the Virginia Tech record books and see where you rank all time. We interviewed Virginia Tech’s legend at the ACC tournament this year, Chris Smith who played in the late ‘60s, he has some pretty gaudy rebounding numbers but, [laugh], of the guys that have played since him in the modern era, you may have the highest rebounding numbers from here on out.
He was averaging about 20 rebounds a game for the, his last 3 years of his career which is pretty insane but, you know, the guys since then you by far have the highest rebounding numbers and I was actually surprised you weren’t in the top 10 in, in block shots.
Ace Custis: Wow.
Oh, no, I was never a shot blocker. If I block a shot it was by mistake. The ball found my hand [laugh].
Niemo: [laugh]
END FIRST PART Check back Tuesday night for Part 2.

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