Peyton Siva says he is one of three U of L players who could have been voted pre-season Big East Player of the Year.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Of the top 40 players from the high school class of 2009, 15 guys have already cashed National Basketball Association checks. You know the names. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Avery Bradley.
When Peyton Siva arrived at the University of Louisville from Seattle three years ago, he thought he would be one of those guys. One season with Rick Pitino and the Cardinals – and then gone. Maybe two. Three absolute max.
Four years? No, sir.
"Definitely," Siva said as he made his way back to Louisville from New York City Wednesday. "I knew it would be tough, but everybody thinks that way."
Peyton Siva has learned there is a different way to think about basketball than building your life around dollar signs.
You bank those memories of the smiling faces you saw while working at the Shawnee Boys and Girls club on North 38th Street last summer. You position yourself to complete all the course work for your sociology degree at U of L next spring.
"That's what I want to do, help kids," Siva said. "I want to help them believe they have a chance to get out and do things, the way people have helped me."
You tell a crowded room of media members what it means to have the 15 coaches in the league vote you the Big East pre-season player of the year. Siva was also the pick in a writers' poll.
Big East player of the year?
That's an award guys like Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen and Patrick Ewing win. This is big-boy basketball.
It gets better. In another vote of Big East coaches, Louisville was also the pick to win the league, over Syracuse and Notre Dame. The Cards earned 14 of 15 first-place votes. The lone holdout was Rick Pitino – and he wasn't allowed to vote for his team so he picked Notre Dame.
"It means a lot," Siva said. "More than I can say. Gorgui (Dieng) and Chane (Behanan, two of his teammates) could have been picked just as easily."
Siva learned how the coaches voted a week ago, but couldn't share the news with anybody. His only assignment was to write a speech about what the recognition meant to him. He delivered that speech Wednesday morning at the New York Athletic Club across from Central Park South.
"I talked about what Coach Pitino means to me and how much I've enjoyed playing in the Big East, what a great conference it is," Siva said.
I wondered if this recognition means U of L freshmen will have to carry Siva's bags all winter?
"I wish," Siva said, with a laugh. "It's just something else that Coach can yell at me about when I mess up."
Siva might miss a shot or throw a crazy pass, but he hasn't messed up much during his career at the University of Louisville – and that includes his decision to stay for all four seasons. He thought about leaving after the Cards' Final Four run last spring, talking to friends and former teammates, like Edgar Sosa.
Critics will chirp that Siva couldn't leave early for the NBA. He needs to improve his jump shot and upgrade his decision-making. There's truth to that. Siva made only 40 percent of his field-goal attempts last season. From the three-point line, he failed to make 25 percent.
Big deal. Not being ready for the NBA hasn't stopped some knuckleheads from rushing into a bad decision.
There are at least four players who were ranked ahead of Siva in the high school class of 2009 who bolted from college basketball early and will not be playing in the NBA this winter.
Renardo Sidney? Keith Gallon? Latavious Williams? Rivals.com ranked all three ahead of Siva. They convinced themselves they were ready to play for pay. But they won't be playing in David Stern's league this winter.
"Everything happens for a reason," Siva said. "God has a plan for me. I'm excited for the season and really happy to be back."