Northern Arizona junior guard Stallon Saldivar burst on the national NCAA basketball scene on Dec. 17, when he hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the final second of a 69-68 upset of Pac-12 Arizona State. Saldivar scored a career-high 24 points with nine assists. Northern Arizona plays Portland State on Thursday and Eastern Washington on Saturday in Big Sky action. Saldivar, a business economics major, spent some time on the phone with Alyssa Askew of the Big Sky Conference. Let's get to know Stallon Saldivar:
Q: How/why did you start playing basketball?
A: My dad played basketball when he was in high school, and so he wanted me to play and just stay active as a kid. I was really good when I was younger and so I just kept at it, and here I am.
Q: So far, what is your best memory of playing college basketball at Northern Arizona?
A: I would just say the friends and relationships that build up being on the team. I just love these kids to death. Also the winning shot against ASU (Arizona State)
Q: What did the win against Arizona State mean to you and your team?
A: It was a big game for us. They're a big, physical team in the Pac-12 and we don't know if we're going to see a team that talented besides Weber State and Montana in the Big Sky. So it was a huge win for our team.
Q: What went through your head as you were about to take that last second 3-pointer? How did you feel once it went in?
A: When Gabe (Rogers) had the ball I thought he was just going to take the final shot, then I saw he was covered so I just got open. Once I got the ball, I was feeling pretty hot so I just put it up, and it went in. I was so happy after it went it. It was just a great feeling.
Q: What has it meant to you to earn Big Sky Player of the Week, National Mid-Major Men's Basketball Player of the Week and to be named a candidate for the Bob Cousy award all in the same week?
A: It just means all hard work that you put in every day in the offseason really pays off. I wasn't really recruited, so to see my name with all the players from the Duke's and Big East schools, it's just been awesome.
Q: How has your team handled the head coaching change?
A: Fairly well, we're 3-2 with him. It's been different, it's hard, the principles are a little different, but we've stuck together and have come a lot closer. It's been difficult, but also helpful to our team.
Q: Did it help that you all knew Dave Brown, as he has been around the program?
A: It helps, we knew him because he always traveled with us. We always saw him around, it helped ease the transition.
Q: How difficult has it been to play without Gabe Rogers? What will it mean to you and your team to start having him back on the court?
A: He's played with us the last four games and you can just tell when he's on the court that he's a captain, and a natural leader. Just his presence, takes our game to a whole new level.
Q: So far, has your career been what you expected? Why or why not?
A: Yes, my freshman year I didn't do much, but most freshmen don't. I'm content with it, I wish I would shoot a little better, but that comes with experience. I just love playing with the players I get to play with. It's a great experience.
Q: Since you're from Salt Lake City, what made you choose Northern Arizona?
A: They heavily recruited me, and when I came on my visit I loved the area and the coaching staff. The atmosphere and setting are kind of the same as Salt Lake City. It's cold and snowy in the winter, and hot in the summers. I just like the people.
Q: Did any of the Utah schools recruit you?
A: Utah did a little bit, and Weber State recruited me pretty heavily.
Q: We read your sixth-grade AAU team was coached by former Utah Jazz greats John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek. What was memorable about that experience?
A: It was the best two years of my life. I hung out a lot with their families. I've been very blessed to be able to be with them. You wouldn't think that they were the people that they were on the court. They are big mentors to me and it's probably the best memory I've ever had.
Q: Tell us about your first name. We have never heard of anyone else named Stallon.
A: My mom got it from Sylvester Stallone. Just take off the E and it's Stallon. She's Italian so she liked it.
Q: You've grown your hair out this year. What led you to let your locks flow?
A: One of my friends kept his long over the summer and I liked it. But it is high maintenance so I'm deciding if I should cut it or not.
Q: Where is your favorite place to eat in Flagstaff?
A: Oregano's or Freddy Burgers
Q: Who has the best arena in the Big Sky (other than your own)?
A: Weber State. I'm a big fan of the dome
Q: What's your favorite Big Sky trip and why?
A: Weber State and Idaho State because I get a lot family. I also love the city of Portland, so it's fun to go up to Portland State.
Q: Favorite thing to do besides playing basketball?
A: I love to play video games with my friends and just hang out, I'm a pretty easy going guy.
Q: If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or deceased) who would they be and why?
A: Kobe Bryant, JFK and my mother.
Q: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
A: Kobe Bryant