Saturday, June 2, 2012

Khem Birch Interview

Khem Birch spent some time answering some questions that were on my mind, and I'm sure a lot of Runnin' Rebels fans' minds and this interview is the finished result. Would like to sincerely thank Khem Birch, he's a real class-act and a major piece of UNLV's charge to the top of college basketball.

RR = RebelReign
KB = Khem Birch

RR: Since you transferred from Pittsburgh and sat out last half of  the season, this summer, and first half of next – what are you working on basketball skills wise?

KB: Me and Coach Augmon have been working on midrange shots, face up moves, and shooting on the run.

RR: And what would you say, of those areas, have you had the most improvement in so far?

KB: I would say midrange shot.

RR: So how far is your range right now?

KB: I’ve been able to hit threes I haven’t hit before, but I’m more streaky when it comes to the three. My midrange shot is much better.

RR: So you’re pretty good from 16-18 feet out?

KB: Yeah.

RR: Are you a better shooter catch and shoot, or from the dribble?

KB: I would say catching off the pass.

RR: Physically, obviously you’ve been working with Coach Kabo in the weight room?

KB: Yeah.

RR: Is there any particular things he has worked with you on that you weren’t working on at Pittsburgh?

KB: I’ve been able to lift and keep my balance. At Pittsburg I was able to gain weight, but not jump – here I’m able to gain the weight and still jump.

RR: So he’s been focused on your vertical?

KB: Yeah, I’m still getting better, I’ve gained 10 points of muscle.

RR: Is that upper body, or lower body, or evenly spread?

KB: Yeah, even.

RR: Are there any areas physically you need to improve, I know you just said you’ve put on the 10 pounds but are you looking to add more bulk, or are you good where you are at?

KB: Yeah, definitely my lower body, my legs are still skinny. So I’m trying to do more leg stuff.

RR: Obviously, that will help you playing the 4/5 position.

KB: Yeah.

RR: I want to talk a minute about Anthony Bennett, you met him a while back while both in Canada?

KB: I was 17. We were on Team Canada together.

RR: Were you also both on CIA together?

KB: No, I was on the older team.

RR: Throughout his recruitment, you guys being in the same city that must have had a profound effect – any every Rebel fan thanks you. How excited are you to play along side Anthony this coming year?

KB: I am really excited. The last time we played together we did really well. So hopefully we can do more. We can probably get to the final four and win a championship together.

RR: Did you play together at the same time on Team Canada?

KB: Yeah, that worked out really well.

RR: What do you think of the addition of Roscoe Smith?

KB: I feel its great because he knows what it takes to win a national championship. He’s a really good player so, my hopes were up that he would come. I told him I wanted him to come, and I’m very excited.

RR: Were you surprised at all that he did chose UNLV?

KB: Actually I was, because he told me he was going to look at other schools and I was like, dang. He might… once you go to another school you might get another opinion, but that wasn’t the case. But I guess he really liked the visit and I guess we did a good job of showing him around Las Vegas.

RR: Its been well reported that last season’s win over #1 at the time UNC Tarheels put UNLV on your radar as far as transfer destination, but what specifically about UNLV attracted you and players like yourself to UNLV? Is it the opportunity to work with Coach Augmon and develop you as a forward?

KB: It was Coach Rice actually, he lets you play more free form, and run and gun, and that’s the style of play I really wanted. Having Coach Augmon and the other coaches helps as well because they were really nice  when I visited.

RR: So it’s the run and gun style that attracts players?

KB: Yeah.

RR: What do you think of the Mendenhall Center?

KB: I’m in there everyday, working out in there, morning, noon, and nighttime.

RR: Obviously better than the gym you used to play in.

KB: Definitely.

RR: How is it working out and playing against Mike Moser, Carlos Lopez, and everyone?

KB: It helps a lot, especially Mike. He’s really good on defense, he has quick feet. Its tough to get past him. And Carlos is strong. Its really good.

RR: What did you think by the visit and talk by Mike Tyson before the tournament?

KB: I was in shock, I can’t believe I saw Mike Tyson. He’s a really nice guy. I loved when he said even thought you don’t want to practice every day, you just have to. I take what he said to heart, and I go to the gym.

RR: During practice time, who is your favorite player to battle?

KB: I would have to say Brice Massamba. He’s really physical. And Quintrell, he’s really strong and brings physicality to the game. I would say Brice.

RR: How do you see UNLV fitting into your future plans as far as getting drafted and playing in the NBA?

KB: People think that, but I don’t really sweat that. If I was looking to get drafted quicker I probably would have stayed at Pitt and not taken the redshirt year. I’m really trying to graduate, and hopefully make the NBA in a year and a half.

RR: Well that’s a very humble attitude, I guess the ultimate decision is out of your hands. So that’s a good perspective to have.

KB: Yeah, definitely.

RR: How do you like living in Las Vegas versus Pittsburg?

KB: I like it way better, there is a lot of sun – not gloomy. People are real friendly here, lots to do. And the coaching staff is great.

RR: What do you think about 24 hrs supermarkets and fast food, they don’t have that everywhere else?

KB: That’s actually true, yeah. Cause I really get hungry at night.

RR: So you can hit the jack in the box or Taco Bell.

KB: Yeah

RR: What’s your favorite basketball shoe?

KB: Nike Foamposite Penny Hardaway.

RR: Is that because of the way they handle, or how light they are?

KB: No, its because of the way they look.

RR: Favorite NBA team?

KB: I don’t really have one.

RR: Favorite NBA player?

KB: Kobe Bryant

RR: Since Kobe is more of a shooting guard, and you play forward are there any forwards you idolize and like their game?

KB: Serge Ibaka game’s actually.

RR: He’s tough, he’s a good athlete – I get that.

KB: Yeah

RR: Well, thank you for the interview.

KB: No problem, thank you very much.


  1. Great read. Keep up the work

  2. KHEM is Awesome!!

  3. Great humble interview

  4. This team is going to be badass!! Once Khem is available lookout!