This week, I had a chance to sit down and interview Colorado junior guard Askia Booker. He had a lot to say during the interview, much of which I used in a feature story here.

There were a lot of good quotes from Booker that I didn't get a chance to use in the story, though. So, here are the leftovers from our interview:

Buffzone: How fortunate do you feel that you've been able to play in the NCAA Tournament three time in three years at CU?

Booker: "I think the only thing I could ask for more is winning a couple more games in the NCAA Tournament. Other than that, it's a blessing to be there. It's a testament to coach (Tad) Boyle and how hard the team has worked and who he's recruited. Especially his staff - they've done a great job with the players."

Buffzone: I hear that your mom, Daniele Ricardo, was strict.

Booker: "She is strict when it comes to me staying in school. My mom knew the people I hung out with, some of them now are in a bad place. But for the most part, she knew that I knew better. If you're out there just hanging out in the streets, your chances of getting into some trouble are a lot higher. I figured it out. I wasn't out there doing reckless stuff. I had to learn. I wasn't given a silver spoon and brought up just perfectly. My mom made mistakes, my dad made mistakes, everybody in my family made mistakes.


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You just try to learn from them."

Buffzone: In the CU media guide, your mom is mentioned, but not your dad. Why?

Booker: "I don't know. My dad is a very, very big part of my life. My dad has made a lot of mistakes in his life, and they're heavy mistakes, but that doesn't mean he's any less of a man. My dad is still there and I talk to my dad every day. I'm very close to him. My dad is very involved in my life."

Buffzone: It's hard to get a read on you - your demeanor - sometimes. Are you happy here at CU?

Booker: "Yeah, I'm happy. I'm more thankful than anything. I'm not going to say I'm the happiest guy walking on campus. I am blessed, but I'm just thankful to be in a position to where I can fulfill my goal, and that is to go to the next level with basketball and support myself and my family. As of right now, I'm in a good place. I couldn't ask for much more. Coach Boyle hasn't turned his back on me, the staff hasn't turned its back on me, and I'm playing. I'm happy. I can't ask for much more. It's cold out here. (Laughs) That's the one thing I usually complain about."

Buffzone: When it appears you aren't happy, is that you focusing on the task at hand?

Booker: "It can either be something that's going on outside, that's maybe on my mind a little bit; that I'm thinking about. If I'm on the court, it's probably a focus. Sometimes it's a bad energy. Sometimes I'm real snappy and sometimes I can get an attitude real fast. But, for the most part if you see me look kind of upset or angry, it's probably because I'm just focused. I'm trying to figure out how to channel my energy."

Buffzone: I get the sense that you're a quiet guy off the court. Is that true?

Booker: "Yeah, I'm pretty quiet. The team, sometimes they call me a ghost, because sometimes I'm just never around. I love my teammates. I'm usually cracking jokes when I'm with them. But, I like my space and I've always been like that."

Buffzone: One thing I heard about you coming into the year was that mentally you can be your own worst enemy. Would you agree?

Booker: "Yes, there is no doubt about it. Not one doubt."

Buffzone: You're a confident guy most of the time, though. What kills your confidence?

Booker: "It could be a number of things - missing too many shots, turning the ball over, forcing the issue and not having that play go through. Those are plays that just irk you."

Buffzone: Who has inspired you?

Booker: "My brother (Rene Johnson) and Andre Smith (a family friend) - those two guys have instilled that work ethic in me. I think that's my little edge on other guards out here - my work ethic."

Buffzone: How hard was it for you to change your game when Spencer Dinwiddie got hurt?

Booker: "In high school, I played point guard. I was giving the ball to Allen Crabbe, Richard Solomon. I hadn't done it at this level yet. It's not like I wasn't fully capable. It was a click - 'Ok you've got this. This is point guard now.' I just realized I have to slow down, see the whole floor. I started watching a little more film, seeing where guys are comfortable scoring the ball. I need those guys to win. In order for me to win, I need those guys to make shots and I need those guys to play right beside me."

Buffzone: It seems that you're playing the best basketball of your career.

Booker: "No doubt about it. It's all about having a complete game. I play games with myself in the game. I'm telling myself, 'Go grab four rebounds this half, get four assists this half.' I'm just trying to get my teammates involved and make them happy, and if I need to take over, I need to put my foot down.

Buffzone: How does your background show up on the court?

Booker: "The toughness. I didn't grow up with a silver spoon. It was rough. Going through hard times as a child when you're young and you see certain things and you go through certain things, it makes you tough on the inside. We might be down four or whatever the case might be - you're not worried about it. As long as your team is willing to suck it up and dig down deep inside and is willing to compete and get this win, we're ready. It's a good feeling to have when you can look back on stuff, what you went through and realize whatever is going on at this very moment isn't as bad as it seems."

Buffzone: Define yourself outside of basketball.

Booker: "Quiet, pretty funny actually. I'm just easy to be around."

Buffzone: Why were you labeled an "at-risk" student before this year?

Booker: "It wasn't that I wasn't capable. I was just lazy. I was flat-out lazy. I was so stuck on being frustrated by basketball, I put school aside. Last year I had stretches where I was just terrible and I wasn't playing the way I needed to play. I had put school aside and I took so much pride in basketball I think it kind of took over. This year, I'm trying to figure out the balance and I'm starting to figure it out and not take basketball over the top. Have fun. That's my main thing."

Buffzone: What would you like to do in the future?

Booker: "Hopefully I'm fortunate enough to play in the NBA. I plan on going to the NBA. Whoever wants to tell you otherwise, I don't care what they have to say. Whoever tells you that I can't do it, just cut them off now. I don't know what else to tell you. I'm not listening to any of that. I will be there. That's all I have to say."