TDR:Thanks again Mr. Jepsen for taking the time to talk to us.
TDR:As a seventh grader I think it is said that you played point guard. Do you feel playing point guard helped you with your mobility as you began to grow in high school?
LJ:Not sure if I played point guard in grade and high school. I dont remember having to break the press other than a few games here and there in the backcourt. We did dribbling drills and shooting drills with the guards pretty much every day in practice in grade school and high school so that helped quite a bit. Normally the guards would bring the ball past half court, then Id wait to get the ball, then do my thing. The guards I played with were unselfish and great teammates, and averaged 27 points, 18 rebounds, 6 blocks and 3 steals per game in high school. Im sure that would be tough to do with selfish teammates.
TDR:After failing to crack into Iowas coach Tom Daviss rotation what did you do to improve during that redshirt season?
LJ:I was recruited by George Raveling and Ron Righter to come to Iowa, then Dr. Tom and staff came right after my 1st year, which was a red shirt year for me. Dr. Tom had a top 8 rotation, and there was 13 or 14 players on the team then, so it took quite a bit of work and was a tough to hope to get into the top 8, which didnt happen until later in my sophomore year. To improve I just decided to make a huge commitment one summer and also I went to 5-Star Basketball Camp in Virginia and Pennsylvania as a counselor for 2 weeks, which really helped me for some reason. Also I had a strength coach, Dave Ash, who worked with me pretty much every day that summer which helped tremendously, and I took BJ Armstrongs advice as well. Dr. Tom is a tremendous coach.
TDR:Who was your hardest match-up in college?
LJ:Playing the smaller, lesser known schools against players you havent seen play with nothing to lose. Some would try to come right at you. When I was playing a big game with a big match-up the tables were reversed and I always seemed to play well against those teams/players.
TDR:Who came up with the nickname Big Boy?
LJ:I think it was BJ Armstrong or Ed Horton, who were freshman with me along with Kevin Gamble and Roy Marble. My former teammates still call me Big Boy.
TDR:Why did the Minnesota Gopher fans chanting Scarecrow at you? For those who dont know how fierce is the rivalry between the two schools.
LJ:Heck if I know. I guess I didnt know they did. Perhaps because I was the point man on the front of our full-court press and I would wave my arms and run along the baseline and jump around, kind of like the Scarecrow on the Wizard of Oz
Im laughing as Im typing this now that I think of it. Im sure most Big Ten teams hated us (and me) after 4 years of that. I wouldnt have wanted to face our press; it was pretty intimidating to everyone. Ill take a bit of kidding for the rewards my team and I received. Once I got a huge packet of letters from some write-in contest from Iowa and Iowa State fans asking to describe me doing my thing on the front of the full-court press
Half the letters were great from Iowa fans and the other half of the letters were hate mail from Iowa State fans. It was hilarious.
TDR:During your 5 years at Iowa who have played with a number of NBA draftees was it difficult to gain confidence with your abilities?
LJ:Playing against McDonalds All-Americans and NBA draftees gave me the confidence; if I didnt have that opportunity to do that theres no way you could gain the confidence you need. After a time it was everyone else on the team trying to gain confidence trying to practice with me because I practiced so hard.
TDR:Where did most NBA personnel predict you would go?
LJ:Marty Blake, the draft guru at the time, had me pegged as the 28th best center in the nation at the start of my senior year. Rudy Washington, one of our assistants, showed me his report and I was all the way down near the end of the page, almost falling off the page and at an angle no less. The day of the draft in June after my senior year I was 5th. And I think I went 5th or right around there in the draft in the center position.
TDR:Where did you think you might get drafted?
LJ:Early 2nd round, with a shot at late first because thats what my agent, Arn Tellem told me.
TDR:Who were the teams you felt you most interested in your services?
LJ:Seattle and Chicago.
TDR:Were you surprised when Golden State drafted you?
LJ:They only talked to me once after the Iowa/Iowa State game during my junior year. Donnie Nelson was at that game.
TDR:For those who may not have had the chance to see you play how would you describe your skills?
LJ:Hard worker, big heart, determined, team-player. A guy you would love to have as a teammate on and off the court.
TDR:I believe you played pro ball overseas in England and Sweden. What do you think is the hardest adjust for an American player on a foreign team?
LJ:Id think it would be the culture and all of the free time.
TDR:Is there anyone in the NBA you think you compare too.
LJ:Any 11th or 12th man / journeyman type player. As far as current players Id have to watch a lot of tape to figure that out.
TDR:Where there any players you tried to pattern your game after?
LJ:Rick Barry was a big idol of mine at first, then Moses Malone and Larry Bird and Robert Parish and Hakeem. Not so sure the pattern worked, but they certainly inspired me to work on my game and improve
A sincere thanks to them.
TDR:I hear that you are a very proud of your North Dakota upbringing. How did you feel when Sports Illustrated named you one of the top 50 North Dakota Sports Figures at 41?
LJ:I guess thats one mans opinion on whos top 50 or not, even though its Sports Illustrated
I guess if you put all the race horses and coaches and cross country skiiers and bobsledders and curlers and ice fishing and snowmobilers and basketball, baseball, hockey, bowling people over 100 years all together that #41 in probably hundreds of thousands of sports figure possibilities isnt so bad. Ive always wanted to be in the wall in the North Dakota Capitol building along with Teddy Roosevelt. I think I have some work to do.
TDR:What is your best moment on the court?LJ:Beating North Carolina at North Carolina my junior year. They hadnt lost in the Dean Dome before and there was the Jordan and Worthy and Perkins and Cunningham banners up in the rafters. Had 10 points and 10 boards and felt like I belonged on that court.
TDR:Best accomplishment off the court?
LJ:Back in Iowa City the day after the first Carolina game I drove through Burger King and the chick at the 2nd window said Hey, your Les Jepsen
Youre a great player!
that was probably my best moment off the court
outside a Burger King drive-thru window.
TDR:So please tell us what you have been doing since you playing days?
LJ:I own an Investment Management Company and also have a real estate license in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I also have a web project called www.mastermindthoughts.com for fun. I stay busy and have a lot of fun. Check out www.jepsenconsulting.com thats my ongoing web site for my business endeavors I just started that site as well its a work-in-progress for me like always.
TDR:Now youre Investment Management Company what does it do exactly?
LJ:I work with 125 familys and have 300 investment accounts. I help people achieve their financial and personal goals. On the real estate side, I list and sell homes in the greater Minneapolis/St Paul area and also Western Wisconsin.
TDR:Do you still follow basketball?
LJ:I love basketball; followed it since 3rd grade with a passion. I coach the game as well for fun and watch every game I can. Great sport.
TDR:What do you think about our current mission of preserving NBA draft history?
LJ:Great idea! I think it documents the players more than anything, as many who get drafted get a taste of the NBA but never really play, and they should be recognized for their skills and hard work even though they might not have made the final cut after veterans camp.
TDR:Well thanks for taking the time to fit us into your busy schedule.
LJ:Again, my pleasure. Great job with your web site. Will recommend it for any hoops fan in the future.