PUBLISHED: 3:00 PM on Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Juneau player jumps into NCAA at Bradley
It's in the first half of a close game between Bradley and Butler University, the red and white jerseys are running towards one end of the court then like a school of fish they flock to the other side as a white jersey runs with the prize. When the sturdy voice from the commentators box announces the player stepping onto the court "from Juneau, Alaska" he does so in such a way that he might have been announcing that this player was from the moon.

Courtesy photo
  Will Egolf dunks the ball at a Bradley University game.
Will Egolf, the 6-foot-9 forward, soon to turn 19, grew up in Haines and played basketball for Haines High School his freshman year, then moved with his mom to Juneau in his sophomore year so he could play for Juneau-Douglas High School and be involved in a larger and more opportunistic basketball community. He has also played for the Team Alaska summer league all of which have helped prepare him for where he now plays at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. Egolf is the first Juneau-Douglas player to advance to the NCAA Division I ranks since 1999. He is the son of Dan and Jo Anna Egolf who own Alaska Nature Tours in Haines.

Playing for the Braves is a bit different than playing for a high school team as Egolf said.

"Since June of this past summer, probably 70 percent of my time concentrates on basketball. I work out after class, just all the time. The only time I really get off is either when I'm in bed or treating an injury," he said. "The gym is probably the most familiar place to me. It was in high school too, but now even more so. The training for a college team is just even more intensive, more in depth."

This past summer Egolf began training at the open gyms and weight lifting, and camp.

"I took a class in the summer and had about five hours of training a day. Then school started and we began having individual workouts with the coach. We lift to maintain bodyweight. During individual workouts the coaches recognize certain things each player needs to work on and they make drills to concentrate on that area. It's also a form of conditioning to get ready for the season. Everyone on the team has a certain role and pre-season individual workouts help to form that role and make the player's understand what they need to do to help the team," Egolf said.

While partaking in these highly intensive workouts where every detail counts, the team members of the Braves must fuel their training with the right kinds of foods.

"We have a nutritionist and she has made a huge menu of stuff we can eat, she has laid out the best meal choices for all the fast food restaurants around and suggest we eat grilled things not fried, the best combinations of foods at the cafeteria, things like that," Egolf said.

The team has a pre-game meal before every game, provided by a restaurant in town. Being part of such a team takes an immense amount of commitment.

"I think we spend about 18 hours a week on average concentrating on training, including lifting, film, practice and maybe three more at pre-game meals and meetings," he said.

So far this season Egolf is averaging about seven to 10 minutes per game and about four points per game.

"There are lots of team goals," Egolf said. "The coaches recruited me and two other really good freshmen to play with, Anthony Thompson of Houston, Texas and Sam Maniscalco of Chicago, Ill., both top in the state for their position. Going to the NCAA tournament is a goal of mine and team goals include winning the MVC tournament, and returning to the sweet 16."

Being a freshman at the university was quite a switch from being a senior on a high school team for Egolf.

"I have to concentrate on many smaller things, grabbing a rebound or making a steal. It's not like high school where I scored 20 points in a game," Egolf said. "At the beginning of the season my role changed because in high school I was one of the best players and then I came to a large university team as a freshman, and I am an average size wing player."

Moving to Juneau helped Egolf gain an edge in his basketball career but Haines certainly contributed to the way Egolf lives his life as well.

"Basketball is a big thing in Haines too, and my work ethic and attitude I learned from Haines. I guess it's been always being somewhere where the society and community are always so helpful, from Haines, to Juneau and now Illinois," said Egolf of how he got where he is.

One of those people in the community who had a large influence on Egolf during high school was Mark McNamara. A past NBA player of eight years and College All American, "he has helped out a lot of players with personal training and big man development. He's been recognized as one of the best."

McNamara moved to Haines to partake in an outdoor oriented life. "He was a big influence on me, he kind of took me under his wing and opened my eyes, I've learned more from him about basketball than from anyone else and I still keep in touch with him. If I need something he is always there," Egolf said.

Egolf has been around basketball since he was quite young. "When my older brother was in high school he was a really good player and so I was around it and probably when I was in the seventh grade I realized I wanted to play, that I had some talent and stuff," said Egolf. "Basketball fits my personality, I love competing and setting goals for myself. I think that Bradley, academically and athletically is the best place for me to meet my potential and play for a program that fits my personality and ability."

In fact when Egolf was first visiting colleges he was thinking of attending, Bradley University was the first and only one he ended up visiting.

"After my visit I cancelled all the other visits, I knew I wanted to go here. I like the community, its not too big but not too small, and a lot of the community knows the team, everyone is involved. The facilities are real nice and there is a new arena opening, I only see it getting better during my time here." He is currently enrolled in the academic exploration program where he has taken a variety of classes to decide what interests him and said, "I think I know already that I am interested in communications."

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