Thanks to Mia Kaufman, the Student Manager of the USC Men’s Basketball team, I had the opportunity to sit down with Reggie Parris, Senior Guard on the team. Join us as we talk about basketball, versatility, being a student-athlete, fishing, lucky numbers, and more!
Niki Winston: For those of us who don’t know you or are not familiar with the basketball world, can you introduce yourself?
Reggie Parris:My name is Reggie Parris. I’m from Denver, Colorado. This is my second year at USC but my senior year in college. I transferred from the University of San Diego. I was actually recruited there as a baseball player, but a year later, decided to walk onto the basketball team. I then transferred to USC and walked onto the basketball team here.
NW: Why did you change sports?
RP:Honestly, a mix of things. When the baseball coaches at San Diego switched, we just didn’t see eye-to-eye. I also loved playing basketball, so when the opportunity presented itself, I rolled with it. My goal when I entered college was just to have a great collegiate experience and make the most of it. Basketball wasn’t what I planned on, but I’m so grateful it happened. I went to two March Madness tournaments and one for the Elite Eight. As I said, four years ago, I was just a college baseball player, but now here I am as a basketball player.
NW: Did you grow up playing both sports?
RP:Yes. I had better opportunities playing baseball so I went with that. When it didn’t end up working out, I adjusted, and I’m honestly so glad it happened.
NW: Sounds like you’re very committed to the sport! Do you want to play in the future?
RP:I’m pretty sure my career is going in a different direction, to say the least! I don’t have the aspirations to be a professional basketball player, nor do I have the skills, to be honest!
NW: That was like me with college volleyball. I get it.
RP:Yes, it happens. Everyone’s time to hang it up is there, and like I said, I had such a good experience that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. So to answer your question, no, but I would love to stay in sports. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, whether it’s working for an NBA team, an agency, or a startup. The experiences that I’ve had with college basketball have been unreal, and so somehow managing to blend the athletic background with my business education at USC is the goal.
NW: So you’re studying business here at USC?
RP:Yes! I’m a business major and I take my studies and athletics very seriously.
NW: Which is so important.
RP:Exactly. I had a conversation with someone about this yesterday. Even if I’m not out there scoring all the points, whether I’m helping keep the team GPA above a certain threshold or being the energy guy on the bench, it’s all important. Especially at this level where any edge a team can get over their opponent is critical.
NW: What are some vital skills you’ve learned as an athlete?
RP:In being a college athlete, you have to have great time management skills; I think any athlete would tell you that. The dedication, the passion, and the persistence that applies to your sport transfers over to every aspect of your life. If I’m going to work for hours on my jump shot, I’m going to dedicate the same amount of time or more to studying for a test.
NW: I agree. There’s also something to be said about the competitive nature of being an athlete.
RP:For sure. As an athlete, you’re just such a competitive person and it rubs off into every part of your life. Personally, I walk into class and I think, wow, I want to go beat all the other students in the class on the assignment, or I want a higher grade. It’s just a competitiveness that I cannot really help, but also obviously there has to be a balance between competition, and working with and supporting those around me.
NW: For sure! Now, on a more fun note, do you have a favorite book, podcast, or movie?
RP:I’m not a big book guy, and podcasts are kind of new to me. But a movie I love is calledRudy. Classic. It talks about a guy who was a walk-on for the Notre Dame football team. It talks about persistence and knocking on doors until they open. I think a lot of athletes would benefit from a story like that, about a guy being overlooked.
NW: I think non-athletes would benefit from watchingRudyas well. I’ll need to check it out. Now, I’m curious to know, what’s your lucky number?
RP:Well let’s see. My birthday is September 16th, so 16 has always been my lucky number. However, in basketball, you’re not allowed to have 6 through 9 because if a referee calls a foul and goes to the score table, they cannot make the numbers 6 through 9 using their fingers because that will look like a foul on player 2 and player 4 for example. Because of that, I doubled 16 and became 32, so I was 32 in high school and here at USC. Definitely even numbers,16, 24, and 32 are my go-tos. But the favorite will always be 16.
NW: Wow, that was a much more thought-out answer than I was expecting! I love it. Now what do you do outside of basketball? We know you’re smart so other than studying!
RP: The typical things like hanging out with my friends, but I also really like fishing.
NW: Okay, who would have guessed. That’s a pretty cool hobby. How did this come about?
RP:Being from Colorado, I grew up fishing with my grandma a lot, and ever since then I’ve always loved fishing as an old pastime. Now, any chance I get to do it, I do.
NW: Isn’t that hard to do here because you need to bring all the gear with you?
RP:Yes, and since you have to go to the ocean and I don’t have the setup, I don’t go that often. But whenever I go to the pier, I ask the guys fishing if they’ve got anything! I’ve actually been fishing here once with one of my teammate, Chevez. We fished with our coach.
NW: Did anyone catch anything?
RP:Chevez caught a stingray.
NW: I have so many questions about the fishing, but before we close off, do you have any advice for incoming student-athletes?
RP:Yes. I would say keep it all in perspective. You have an opportunity to be an adult playing a kid's game at a high level with lots of fans, all while getting your education. So if you don’t play your freshman or sophomore year as much as you would like, that’s okay. Any chance you get as part of the team, kids across the country would do anything to have. Don’t sulk on what you aren’t getting. Try to think more positively about the things you are getting, like traveling, the teammates, coaches, and gear! It’s so important because before you know it, you’re going to be done, and the real world is going to hit. Basketball is not forever for anybody. If you have the opportunity to play at the professional level, definitely take advantage of that, but while you’re here, be where your feet are. Meet as many people as you can, take it all in, and have fun!
NW: Thank you so much for your time, Reggie! How can our readers who want to keep up with you keep up?
RP:Thank you! Definitely keep up. I’m easygoing and love talking with different people. I don’t have an ego. I’m a man of the people! I would love to meet any of the readers. I might be going across the country to New York or staying here, but will definitely be in a big city and would love to connect with you all on Instagram (reggie.parris), Twitter (reggieparris16), and Tiktok (reggieparris).