In just a little more than a year and a half sophomore guard Kim Wilburn has established herself as one of the premier point guards in the Big Ten. Wilburn has had an immediate impact on the Ohio State women’s basketball program since coming to Columbus in the fall of 2002 as she helped the Buckeyes rebound from disappointing 2001-02 season to an impressive 22-10 record last season and a trip to the NCAA tournament. Adding to her successful rookie season, Wilburn also captured honorable mention All-Big Ten and was selected to the 2003 Big Ten Coaches All-Freshman Team, as selected by the league’s coaches. With strong support from her parents, teammates and coaches the 5-foot-6-inch sophomore from Southfield, Mich. has proven that she is ready for any challenge that crosses her path.
Last year you were kind of thrown into the mix as a freshman by starting at point guard. What is different this year and have things become easier?
“It’s a growing experience, but things are getting easier. When you are a point guard at a school like Ohio State, you have to grow up fast. As point guard I have to be a leader. Even though I’m a sophomore, I have to play like I’m a junior or a senior because there are so many competitive schools that we have to face during the season. Even though I am sophomore, our team cannot afford for me to play like a sophomore.”
Was it tough to become a team leader as a freshman last season?
“It was tough, but you appreciate it because you don’t just grow on the court, you grow off the court as well. I still have a lot learn, but the experience of maturing and learning new things is a great experience.”
What is the toughest part about playing point guard for head coach Jim Foster?
“He expects a lot. As the point guard you are the coach on the floor and you have to know what he is thinking and that’s not always easy. After all, he’s been coaching basketball for 26 years so sometimes you don’t always see what he sees. You have to think a lot and you have to know a lot when you’re out there. In high school it was like free playing and sometimes you could get away with not being focused all the time. However, in college you really have to pay attention and you have to prepare a lot more. It is very important that you are ready so when it comes down to the last 30 seconds and there are no timeouts, you have to know what he’s thinking.”
What’s the best thing about playing for coach Foster?
“You learn so much. He has been successful at every level he has coached at and he is one of the best collegiate coaches in the country. To have someone like that coach you is great. I’ve learned so much from playing with him and I still have two years to go.”
What is the one thing that you have learned from coach Foster?
“One thing that I learned from coach Foster is that if you want be a great player, you have to put everything into becoming the best player that you can and you cannot take a day off. I remember one day at practice, coach Foster shared a story about when he went to the doctor and he told the him we lost because we had an off-night and the doctor asked, ‘what if I had an off-day?’ That was a story that really stuck with me throughout my first year at school. It made me realize how important it is to do your best everyday and to avoid an off day at all costs.”
At what point during the 2002-03 season did everything begin to make sense?
“It’s tough to pick a point last season when everything seemed to make sense, but if I had to choose, I would pick the middle of the season because everything just started to flow.”
Talk about the type of emotions that run on the court.
“It’s very intense out on the floor because everybody who is on the court has worked so hard to win and sometimes you can get emotional. I remember last season in the championship game of the Big Ten tournament. I was really depressed about losing to Purdue. It was toward the end of the game and I went and scored two points when I thought it was a two-point game instead it was a three-point game and I just felt as if I had let the team down. I can remember how bad everybody on the team wanted to win that tournament, because a lot of people did not think we would be contenders at the end of the season and we made it all the way to the championship game. Although we lost the game, I learned that you can’t dwell on one loss for any amount of time, you just have move on and focus on the next game.”
Talk about the strength of the Big Ten Conference?
“Three teams are ranked in the Top 10 and five teams went to the NCAA tournament, so this is a very tough conference and you have to be ready to go out and play hard every single night. You can’t take one night off, but I think having that type of competition night in and night out is good.”
Outside of basketball what do you enjoy?
“I really enjoy music. I play the piano, sing and compose my own music.”
What made you take up piano lessons?
“My mom made me take piano lessons for a year and a half, but I quit because it began to interfere with basketball. Even though I stopped taking lessons I still enjoy playing.”
It seems as if your mom made you do something you did not want to do, but now it seems as if you really enjoy it. Why the change?
“I think it was just something that grew on me after I stopped taking lessons. I also enjoy playing the piano because shows that I’m not one-dimensional.”
What is your relationship with your parents like?
“My mom and dad are both very supportive. They’ve always told me that when you put your mind to something you should keep at it.”
When you are out on the court do you try to incorporate your music with basketball? Does the music you compose give you a rhythm while you are out on the court?
“I’m not really sure, but I think it does sometimes. It’s tough to tell.”
How often do you get the opportunity to focus on music?
“During the offseason I get a lot more time play the piano and sing, but during the winter months most of my time is focused in on school and basketball. I spend some time during the season composing and playing music because it really takes my mind off of school and basketball when times get tough.”
What type of music do you like to listen to?
“There is a wide range of music that I like to listen to, of course I like listening to regular R&B and hip hop but because I like making music I like to make my own style therefore I like listening to a lot of songs from the fifties and sixties getting new ideas from artists of that time especially Marvin Gaye, I really enjoy his style.”
What kind of music do you like to compose?
“It’s tough describe what kind of music I compose, because its not like anything else that you hear in the music industry today. When I compose my music I try to write like other musicians and I try to have my own style like those who I admire had.”
Who do you admire in the music industry that has pursuded you get so involved with music?
“Overall there are a lot of people I admire in the music industry, but in today’s industry I would have to say that I admire individuals llike Jill Scott and Lauren Hill, but you also have to look at older stuff and people who have made a mark in the music industry as well. Musicians like Michael Jackson were very influential to me growing up. What he did at such a young age was very inspiring to so many current and former musicians. He had his own style and made a variety of people listen to his type of music, which is very refreshing.”
Is there a particular style that you shoot for?
“My music can range can from anything hip hop to rock, but mainly I look to have a very mellow tone in the type of music that I compose.”
What do you like to do when you are playing music or basketball?
“I love to just sleep, lay around the house, watch television and eat, I love to eat. As a student-athlete, I usually don’t get a whole lot of time to just do nothing, but when I do I try to take full advantage of my time.”