While most students find themselves pursuing opportunities outside of Stanford, the two newest members of Stanford men’s basketball have spent their summer becoming acquainted with the campus they will soon call home.
Trevor Stanback, a 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena, and Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, are both adjusting to a brand new environment both in and out of basketball.
In their first couple months as Cardinal, Pugh and Stanback have already experienced some adversity during their transition into college athletics. Both freshmen are preparing for their first collegiate basketball season without the coach that recruited them to the program.
Pugh and Stanback committed to Stanford under the direction of former head coach Johnny Dawkins, before learning about the firing of Dawkins in mid-March through social media.
While both were stunned to see the news, Jerod Haase visited them both soon after he filled the vacancy as head coach.
“[Coach Haase] came to visit me at Blair [Academy in New Jersey], and he watched me work out, sat down with me afterwards, and we talked for a while,” said Pugh. “Instantly I knew, this is an amazing guy.
“I did my own research before he had come and found out that his style of play matched mine perfectly. Coach Dawkins is an amazing coach. He’s in a good position right now at UCF, but I was more committed to the school. Coach Haase — he reassured me that I would be a perfect fit at Stanford.”
Coach Haase had been an assistant basketball coach for Kansas University and North Carolina University before earning his first head coaching position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2012.
At UAB, he led his team to an overall record of 80-53, a conference USA regular season championship and a conference USA Tournament Championship. During his third season at the helm, Haase accomplished his goal of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. He was recognized as the Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2016.
“He’s definitely committed to what he says. Anything he says, he plans on doing and will make sure it happens, regardless,” said Stanback of the traits Haase brings to the Cardinal program.
Pugh also noted that coach Haase has placed immense focus on building relationships and trust throughout the program.
Despite the unfamiliar environment and the coaching change, the pair of freshmen remain optimistic and determined for the upcoming season.
Pugh, a 6-foot-8 forward, looks forward to his time on the Farm. “We’re excited to be here. [It’s] a blessing and a great opportunity to play for this team, play for this school [and] represent this amazing program.”
In his junior season at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, Pugh averaged 20.2 points and 10.1 rebounds, which earned him offers from 22 major universities.
Pugh’s reasons for choosing Stanford over all of the other schools schools was simple.
“Stanford has the perfect combination of education and basketball. You can’t get a better situation here,” he said. “It’s not just a four-year decision, it’s a lifetime decision; so I decided to set myself up for life.”
Push has completely dedicated himself to summer practices. “I’m continuing to improve my entire, overall game. Just working on tightening my handle, getting faster, getting quicker, working on my jump shot [and] working on being a better defender.”
Stanback has a similar outlook in regards to the opportunity to play for Stanford. “It’s just such an opportunity that you can’t pass down. As soon as I found out that I had the ability to come here, I hopped on it immediately,” he said.
“I sent my application a week after I got it. I was really excited. It was a really long process, but I’m glad I did it. I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.”
Stanback averaged 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 blocks as a senior at Maranatha High School. The center believes he can contribute on both ends of the floor effectively for the Cardinal.
“I’m a good defender. I am able to time shots pretty well, so I am either blocking them or altering the shots. That’s probably my main thing,” he said. “I’m also pretty good at the post. I’m able to battle down there with other bigs.”
Stanback also noted his commitment to developing his overall game. He has recently been working to improve his ball handling and perimeter shooting, as he aspires to step away from the post and score more often.
It is evident Pugh and Stanback are putting in the work that comes with being a Cardinal. To Pugh, that work ethic was part of preparing himself for the recruiting process.
“There’s a lot of hard work that leads up to that process. It’s years and years of dedication, blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “To be able to sign that letter of intent is just icing on the cake — the perfect moment, making my family proud. I’m blessed to be able to make it this far in my life and my career.”
Stanback believes the Cardinal will need cohesiveness in order for coach Haase and company to make their own NCAA tournament appearance this season. Stanback is confident the Cardinal have “all of the pieces” and that once they come together and realize their common goals, they’ll achieve them.
Both athletes are also aware of their responsibilities off the court. Pugh and Stanback have shown their commitment to both the community and classroom.
Stanback believes collegiate athletes should reach out to those who are less fortunate in their respective communities.
“Athletes are idolized everywhere,” he said. “People look up to us and to all athletes around the world, so I feel like we have a big influence and a big responsibility to share our voice and share the voice of the community.”
In regards to academics, Pugh intends on exploring majors like art, computer science and graphic design. Stanback is looking into combining psychology, basketball and possibly therapy to assist individuals with disabilities.
In the meantime, Pugh is enjoying his new life on the Farm. “I love it out here — the beautiful weather, the beautiful area, it’s [all] amazing.”
Pugh has already gotten a glimpse of the level of competition he’ll face at Stanford. He was able to work out with Brooklyn Nets guard and Palo Alto native Jeremy Lin, who played college ball at Harvard. The Cardinal are scheduled to play their first game against the Crimson on November 11 in Shanghai.
When asked for predictions regarding the upcoming season, Pugh put it simply: “It’ll be a season to watch.”
Contact Andrew Espinoza at drw23espi ‘at’ gmail.com