Training camp has been under way all week, and the rookies have begun to learn a thing or two. All four, Robert Sacre, Darius Johnson- Odom, Reeves Nelson and Greg Somogyi, are stuck in a dichotomous relationship of best friends and fierce competition. Greg is one of those Lakers hopefuls, and looms over the rest. Literally. At 7 feet 3 inches, Somogyi brings an off-the-bench talent and height that goes unmatched in L.A.
The chance to play with the L.A. Lakers rests on Greg’s performance over the coming weeks. A native of Hungary, Greg has been living the American dream for six years, and hopes to continue it with a permanent place on the Lakers roster. As a UCSB alumn, and an adopted CA boy, the Lakers are Somogyi’s obvious choice.
We contacted the big man to talk about his experience this summer and the past few days during training camp, and to let our readers get to know this prospect just a little bit better.
On Summer League…
Lakers Nation: Greg, I know you played a bit this summer with the Lakes. When did you know you were heading to Las Vegas for Summer League?
Greg Somogyi: Well, I got invited to the mini camp before the Summer League, where we had three or four days of practice. At the end of the camp they made a cut, and I passed it; it was then that I knew I was part of the team going to Vegas.
LN: What was the first thing that went through your mind when you knew you were going?
GS: Happiness. I was really happy and also relieved. Before Las Vegas, I was thrown into this high pressure situation with a possibility of being cut, and that was stressful. I felt great honor to be a part of the Lakers in any way, and be able to show my skills.
LN: You didn’t play many minutes this summer, but you were still a presence, enough to earn a training camp spot. How did playing with NBA-caliber players differ from your game day experience at UCSB?
GS: The role is almost about the same. At UCSB, my part was to come off bench and support the team, bringing in refreshed energy. I feel like that is my role for now with the Lakers. Even if I only get 30 seconds on the court, I have to make an impact. I have to go all out. The level of players I am going up against will be different, so I just have to improve my skills and focus more.
LN: Tell me about your overall summer league and workout experience. I know you’ve been with the team ever since your time in Vegas ended.
GS: I played in Summer League and then have been working out with the Lakers for about a month. At first, I didn’t know what to expect. Before I went, I talked to people that have been in the league, like Orlando Johnson from UCSB whom I played with. I wanted to get as much information as possible. So far, the Lakers have been professional and helpful. The coaches take the time to help improve my game and make me the most I can be. The past two months have just been about improving my skills.
On the Current Lakers Players…
LN: Living in CA for college, the Lakers must have been one of your top team choices, right?
GS: The Lakers were definitely my top choice. I went to school at UCSB and there are a lot of Lakers fans there, but I also watched them growing up. They believed in me the most, so it was a perfect setup. The Lakers were willing to take a chance and give me the opportunity, so I never considered anyone else. I put my whole heart in the Lakers. I am 100 percent in this right now.
LN: There is stiff competition during this training camp. Why do you deserve to make this Lakers squad?
GS: I have been working really hard this summer for this and I feel I can help this Lakers team in little, but explosive, ways, mainly in practice and games. I also still have room to improve and be shaped, essentially, allowing the Lakers to mold me a bit to what they need. I want to make a bigger impact than my abilities allow me to now. One thing that sets me apart is my defense, shot blocking and rebounding.
LN: The summer was packed full of big-talent acquisitions. Where do you see yourself fitting into this Lakers team?
GS: I would be a relief bench player, more on the defensive end. I would probably have more of a presence around the rim and help other bigs in foul trouble. Honestly, whatever minutes I get to come in and provide support will be fine with me. I intend to come off the bench and give it my all.
LN: Who are you most excited about having the chance to play with?
GS: Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. The both play my position but in different ways. Pau represents great skill and finesse and Dwight is more of a power player. I have a lot to learn from them. The goal is to see how they do what they do and learn from them. A goal of mine is to be able to do some of the things that they do after learn as much as I can from them. Basically, pick up some moves and add it to my game.
LN: Those are two great role models to have. Speaking on the rest of the team, have you hung out with any of the players? If so, who was the most fun to spend time with?
GS: I’ve really spent time with all of them, especially after we have workouts. I have spent the most time with Sacre because he is a rookie like me, plays my position, and is a great overall teammate.
LN: Of the starters and veterans, who was the most fun to spend time with?
GS: I like Metta because he is very open and really wants to see the young guys do their best. He has been really helpful. Dwight is a lot of fun too; he is a big jokester.
LN: I remember hearing how he walked into Media Day cracking a few jokes with the reporters. Has he told any funny jokes that you remember?
GS: *Laughs* No not right now. If I remember one, I’ll tell you.
Next Page: On Proving Himself, Making the Team