Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
June 13, 2012These days, it is just as common to see a seven-foot basketball player bombing 3-pointers from the perimeter than it is to see him battling in the post. But this wasn't the case about ten years ago when 6-foot-11 Brian Conklin carved out a solid collegiate career as a 3-point specialist for the Huskers. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Conklin made more than 55 percent of his 3-pointers during his senior season, setting both the school and Big 12 records.
While he was never a star during his time at Nebraska, Conklin made an impression on everyone he met and has carried that over into his work with the Fellowship of Christian athletes in Omaha.
Continuing our annual summer "Where are they now?" series, we caught up with Conklin to pick his brain about his Nebraska career, his current job and the state of the NU program.
There are plenty of forwards and centers that shoot 3-pointers today, but that wasn't as common when you played. What got you into 3-point shooting and made you so good at it when a time most guys your size were banging down low?
"There were a couple of things. One was the fact that when I got to school, I was 6-foot-11 and I weighed 180 pounds, and the other is I'm not very good at making layups. The tendency was to go outside where I felt more comfortable. I was blessed to have a high school coach that saw that shooting and the perimeter game was more of my strength. He was really criticized for allowing me to go out on the perimeter in high school and play as much as I did out there. But it prepared me for when I got to Nebraska. When you get to college, you have your eyes opened up to just how good other players are. Scoring in the post or off the drive in high school is a little different than in college. I quickly understood that my role and my strength was on the perimeter."
What was your experience playing overseas like?
"I had an interesting path. I went on staff with FCA right out of college. I turned down some NBA tryouts and some opportunities to play overseas. I really felt that the calling for my life was to be a part of the ministry at FCA. But the very day that I started with FCA, Ron Brown was in between coaching positions and took over as the state director at FCA. When he took over, he really brought an emphasis of what it looked like to compete as a Christian athlete. He called it doing sports God's way. I was really challenged in my own life thinking through how I competed. A lot of people tell you that I was a Christian because they maybe heard about it off the court. To me, there was a real disconnect with what it looked like when I competed between the lines. It was at that point that I thought maybe I should put it into practice to teach it better. After two years of being on staff at FCA, my wife and I prayed about it and thought it might be best to go back and play with the intent of coming back to FCA when my career was done.
"I was still able to have two NBA tryouts after that - I actually tried out for the Cleveland Cavaliers on my birthday. But it was the overseas route that the Lord had for us. We had gone to Holland and had a contract in the Dutch league, but the contract was contingent on the fact that we played in a league that was equal to or better to the Dutch league the year before. The government came back and said I couldn't get my work visa. I guess the pickup games of Lincoln, Nebraska didn't qualify as being a better league.
"At that time, I landed a tryout with a German team in one of the top leagues and landed a spot on the team. I played part of that season. It was a different experience - I played just part of a season and we were done."
What was it like working under coach Brown?
"Before I worked under him, I kind of had the same view of everyone in the state. He's a great football coach and he's a great speaker, but when I worked with him for four years or so, I was blown away with who he was as a person. What you see when he speaks up front is exactly who he is. He's very disciplined. He's very loving. He loves the message of Jesus Christ behind closed doors just as much as he does in front of crowds. To work with him was a true blessing. I have upmost respect for coach Brown and what he's done and what he's still doing today."
"I'm pretty busy with my job and I've got a young family at home, so as far as going to games, it's kind of tricky for me to get down to Lincoln. But I certainly watch highlights and read articles to try and keep up to speed with what's going on. As an athlete being there, you gain a love for the program, and I think that's a love that doesn't really go away, no matter who the coach is and who the players are."
What are your early impressions of Tim Miles?
"I credit the guy because he's wasted no time. To be honest with you, I didn't know much about him before he came in. It seems like he's got some transfers and some recruits in that are hopefully going to get the program turned around in a positive direction."
What does your job with FCA entail?
"My job entails a bunch of stuff. I've been on staff with FCA for about nine years now. The overall goal of the job is, as a ministry, FCA seeks to serve coaches and athletes. The way that we think that we can do that best, and this is what my job is really about, we're going to help them understand what a relationship with Jesus Christ looks like. For the Christian athlete or Christian coach, how does that impact their competition on a daily basis? All that we do as far as camps or working in the community or working with coaches and athletes all falls under that umbrella there.
"I get the term 'director' because I'm the only one on staff here, except for an administrative assistant, in Omaha. Primarily, the way that FCA operates is through volunteers, through people who have a heart to minister to coaches and athletes. My job as a director is to basically come around those volunteer people and support them with what's going on. That involves fundraisers, putting on camps and orchestrating our area board. It is more of a behind-the-scenes, support type of role."
How did you first get involved with FCA?
"I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and heard about FCA but was never really involved with it. There wasn't an FCA group at our school. But when I went to the University of Nebraska to play basketball, I met who is now our state director, Chris Bubak. He just opened up God's Word and scriptures and taught me what it looked like to compete as a Christian athlete. It was something that really grabbed my attention and made sense with what I was doing on a day-to-day basis at that time. My sophomore year of college, he asked me to come on during the summertime and do an internship with FCA. That really sparked my awareness and really made me passionate about what the ministry does. Once I graduated school, I went right into working with FCA."