Everyday Champion - Junior Omari Johnson

Nov. 23, 2009

Omari Johnson, a junior from Los Angeles, has grown quite a bit as a person and a player since his arrival at Oregon State. The junior forward helped lead a resurgent men’s basketball program to the College Basketball Invitational title in 2008-09 and looks to lead Oregon State to even bigger things this season.


A sociology major, Johnson hopes to one-day work as a school guidance counselor, helping kids make strong, well-informed decisions. As this week's 'Everyday Champion,' Johnson took some time to sit down with osubeavers.com to discuss his playing career and future.


Q: Talk about your decision to attend Oregon State?

A: I decided to come to Oregon State because of the college atmosphere and it’s a great college town. I love the people and the new scenery. Coming from Los Angeles, I am use to the big city and I wanted a change of pace in Corvallis.


Q: What surprised you about Corvallis and Oregon State once you got here?

A: The biggest surprise was how much of the town already knows who you are before you know any of them.


Q: Talk a little bit about your decision to study sociology.

A: I decided to study it because I think it is very interesting how society reacts to different situations and how communities react to different things as well.


Q: What are some of your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I would like to further my basketball experience. Once basketball is over, I’d love to be a high school counselor. I love kids and it would be a great experience to work with kids and help them through their issues and get them on the right track.


Q: Talk a little bit about your experiences working with children.

A: When I was in high school, every Christmas and Thanksgiving a couple of teammates and I would visit a shelter in Los Angeles to work with children and battered moms. We’d help with handing out gifts and hot meals and we would play basketball with the kids.


Q: What does a scholarship mean to you?

A: A scholarship to me is a very big deal in today’s society because it’s so expensive to attend a good school. A scholarship definitely helps me. With the scholarship, I get an education and I have the opportunity to go through some great experiences. If I didn’t have a scholarship, I wouldn’t get these types of opportunities.


Q: What is it like to play for Craig Robinson?

A: Playing for coach Robison is definitely a treat because he knows so much about the game. Off the court, he teaches us how to conduct ourselves, how to be professional, how to become a better student and gives us lessons we can use on a daily basis. He’s taught all of us how to be better with our money. He’s taught us about different saving accounts and has brought in people to teach us how to balance our money. He’s just done a variety of different things on and off the court to help us become better men.


Q: Once you leave Oregon State, do plan on staying involved with the university and program?

A: I feel that once I leave Oregon State, I believe it is very important for me to come back and give some time back to the school and the program. I would like to come back and help in any way that I can.


Q: Since your arrival, how have you changed over the last three years?

A: The main difference I see over the three years I have been here has been how I have matured. I’ve learned a lot about myself and know I can go out into the world and be able to handle everything on my own.


Q: How has the coaching staff helped you along with the maturing?

A: The coaching staff has helped me mature a lot by requiring us to be awake at 5:30 a.m. for practice.  That’s taught me to be disciplined. They’ve also taught us the importance of being on time and everything and being 100 percent focused while in the class room. All of those aspects have really influenced me over the past couple of years.


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