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NCAA Q&A: Erik Etherly, Loyola

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High school: Annandale, 2008 graduate

College: Loyola

Vitals: 6-7, Jr., F

Season: The all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference first-teamer leads the Greyhounds in points (13.5 ppg), rebounds (7.5 rpg), blocks (46) and field goal accuracy (53.1 percent). The school is making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994.

Fact: Etherly played his freshman season at Northeastern.

Opening matchup: Loyola (24-8) vs. Ohio State (27-7) at 9:50 p.m. Thursday in Pittsburgh. (Interactive bracket)

Best high school basketball memory: “Probably my first game on varsity my sophomore year, against [West Potomac]. I was called up in the middle of the season and played well the first few games and we started winning. There was a Washington Post article written on me back then. I still have that article framed in my room at home.”

Favorite high school gym other than Annandale’s: “[T.C. Williams’s] old gym. Not their new one but their old one. It just had that nostalgia behind it. It was an older gym; it was kind of dark in there. The fans were crazy. The atmosphere was wonderful.”

Most embarrassing high school basketball moment: “I was on a fast break one time and instead of just dunking it regularly I decided I was going to go up and underneath the rim on the other side and try to reverse it. I got hung. It was at our place, against Hayfield. My teammates and I still laugh about it to this day. I made up for it with about three more dunks after that.”

Favorite high school victory: “The first round of regionals [in 2008] we played Chantilly and we were huge underdogs in that game. Everybody thought it was going to be a blowout. Their crowd started cheering, “Over-rated!” because a lot of people knew I was going to Northeastern at that point. We ended up beating them [83-79] and I finished the game with 28 [points].” Chantilly entered the game with a 21-3 record. Annandale was 13-10.

Best player you faced in high school: “He’s my teammate now — Anthony Winbush [of T.C.]. He’s a very tall guard. You don’t expect 6-7 guys often times in high school to be able to bring the ball up the court on a consistent basis, and he could. It’s kind of funny because we were rivals all throughout high school and now we’re going to school together.” Winbush was a first-team All-Met in 2008; Etherly was a third-team choice.

Best piece of basketball advice that you got in high school: “When I made [Patriot District] player of the year, my coach [Anthony Harper] told me that’s great and everything but you have to make deposits to the bank — keep working hard — if you want to keep getting better.”

High school loss that stung the most: “My last loss [to Madison in the 2008 Northern Region quarterfinals]. The only one that I still really think about all the time. We should have won the game. We weren’t a very deep team my senior year and we were very young at that point. We just didn’t quite have the energy to play on back-to-back days when you have five guys basically playing the entire game. I fouled out of that game and so I didn’t even get to play in the last couple minutes of it. That’s why it hurt more than anything, the fact that it was my last game and I wasn’t able to stay on the court for the entire game.”

Piece of advice for high school players: “It’s going to go by much faster than you think and just make sure you’re working every day to get better. If you’re not getting better you’re getting worse because someone else is out getting better.”

What do you miss most about high school basketball: “It was more fun because you didn’t always play the toughest competition in the world. Basketball is still very fun in college, but it’s more of a business and it’s more tactical now. You have to play hard every game. There’s no game off in college basketball. Every college team has somebody who’s a great player.”

Best thing about college basketball: “Playing on TV. Playing in front of much bigger crowds.”

Worst thing about college basketball: “Traveling. Always on the road.”

When you hear the words March Madness, what immediately springs to mind: “Conference championships and ESPN. I think every basketball player dreams of having their game on ESPN2, playing in the conference championship game.”

More at AllMetSports.com

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