Dec. 20, 2011
By Richard Paige
Arizona Athletic Media Relations
Talk about a late bloomer.
Four years ago, he was a kid who was signed late in the spring to fill a spot someone else had left behind. Not expected to be a meaningful contributor, he was signed to fill a void on the perimeter.
What we didn't know then, we certainly know now. Through a love of the game and an unquenchable work ethic, Kyle Fogg has turned himself into a productive college basketball player.
A college basketball player who just became the 46th player in Arizona history to score 1,000 career points. That's 308 field goals, 142 treys and 257 free throws, which adds up to 1,015 points in 116 games.
In the spring of 2008, Fogg was a lanky 170-pound guard from Brea, Calif. Ranked as high as No. 37 at his position by one of the national scouting services, he averaged 24.9 points and 4.4 assists per game as a senior.
While the UA may not have been sure as to what it had in Fogg, one thing became readily apparent - he was ready to work hard.
"Coming in, he wasn't a typical U of A recruit," said Russ Pennell, Arizona's interim head coach in 2008-09. "He didn't have the ranking or anything, but when you saw Kyle play you knew he was a special kid because of how hard he worked and how good he wanted to be. His success doesn't surprise me because of the effort he's put into it."
It's his work ethic that a lot of people may have overlooked, and it's that ethic that has propelled him as a player.
He freely admits that he wasn't highly recruited, but that didn't stop him from continuing to work toward his goal. Even when people around him would tell he should take what he could get rather than hold out on the dream of playing Division I basketball. It was his love of the game that pushed him forward.
"No. Not at all," said Fogg. "I wasn't highly recruited out of high school. I always just loved to play basketball. My work ethic picked up when people were telling me I wasn't good enough to make it to a good college. I just wanted to prove those people wrong. It was easy because I just love playing."
Bob Terry, Fogg's high school coach at Brea Olinda High School, remembers Kyle being a guy more than willing to stay after practice and do a little bit more.
"A lot of credit goes to Kyle, because he really put in the work," said Terry. "I always remember him wanting to stay and get in as many workouts as he could. I know our assistants spent a lot of time with him when he wanted to do that extra work. He has a really strong work ethic and that's got him to where he is now."
Sometimes, it's good to have luck on your side as well, and the relationship of a few former Sun Devils to help seal the deal.
Pennell, who at the time had just joined the UA staff as an assistant coach after serving in a similar capacity at Arizona State, was keyed into the availability of Fogg by a Sun Devil player named Kyle Dodd (1999-2003), who just happened to grow up in Brea, too.
"Kyle Dodd played a huge role in Fogg's recruitment," Pennell said. "He told me when we were looking at Fogg, `Don't even think about it, take him.' We liked his long arms, his athleticism, and especially his ability to play hard. It was just one of those right time, right place deals for him and for the U of A."
For Dodd, the recommendation was easy, even if it meant helping out a rival.
"Kyle was just super talented, under-the-radar type guy." Dodd explained. "He was just one of those guys who found a way to get it done. He was always putting up numbers, but for whatever reason, he never got the attention that his ability garnished."
Dodd remembers Fogg from as far back as elementary school, when the elder Kyle coached the younger in local camps. Dodd claims that Fogg had an athletic frame even then.
"I've known him since I think he was probably in the third grade and I still think he hasn't grown into his feet and hands yet," laughed Dodd. "He was always super long and very athletic as a kid."
Terry remembers similarly. "I just remember that he was head and shoulders better than everybody else," he said. "I remember mostly that he was really lanky and long. I think I remember his fingers and big hands, and his nice basketball frame. I remember in eighth grade he was really lanky. He wasn't the tallest kid, but he ended up growing into a pretty good basketball body."
Fogg found himself in the middle of things almost from day one in Tucson. A starter in 27 of 35 games as a freshman, he helped the Wildcats win 21 games and advance to the 2009 NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. Seemingly from the get-go, his hard work put him in the right place at the right time.
"I always remember Kyle coming up with a big play at a big moment, and for a young player, that was really impressive, because a lot of times young players are scared to make a mistake," said Pennell. "Kyle never was scared to try something. He would hit a big shot, get a steal, take a charge, he would do something in crunch time that allowed us to be successful, and I think that he has continued over the last three years."
And as Sean Miller came aboard in 2009-10, Fogg has continued to evolve into a more well-rounded player, a leader who can affect the game at both ends. He's worked to become a better defender and routinely guards the opposing team's best perimeter player, all while developing into a consistent double-figure scorer.
"And in Kyle's case, he does so much more than score, he's developed since his freshman year like all coaches want a player to develop," said Miller. "It's a real credit to his hard work that he is a member of that 1,000-point club."
It's that willingness to improve that makes Fogg a role model for his teammates. It's also something that has allowed him to flourish under two different coaches and the transition from one system to another.
"His improvement on defense is really important to this year's team and I think it's really important for his career," said Miller. "It's one thing to be able to score, but you want to be able to have some talent at the other end. Kyle really does. He's well-rounded when you compare his offensive impact to his defensive impact." Fogg sees the value in hard work on both ends, especially when it comes to winning.
"Winning, now more than ever, is everything to me," he said. "I know what I have to do to help my team get that win, and defense is one of my main focuses. What's good about it now is that it's become personal to me when guys score on me. I really enjoy locking up the other team's best player, and being able to produce on the offensive end."
True to form, Fogg doesn't quite know how to wrap his arms around the concept of 1,000 career points. He does know that there is still plenty of basketball left in his college career.
"Honestly all that hasn't even sunk in yet," Fogg said. "I'm just mainly focusing on this last year, and I think that after it all ends, I'll look back on it and be proud and happy about how I did here.
Miller feels that Fogg's efforts are to be celebrated.
"He's the type of player that our fans and this University should embrace," said the UA mentor, a 1,200-point scorer in college himself. "He's a guy who will leave here with his degree. He's someone who has been on championship teams, and he's someone who has improved throughout his career and put himself in a position to have a bright future."
Depending on how long Arizona's season stretches into the postseason, Fogg could end his career with more career games played than any other player in Wildcat history. That would be quite an accomplishment for a guy just filling a void four years ago.
"I wouldn't trade this for anything. All the ups and downs have molded me into the person I am today, and I'm just happy I got the opportunity I've had these past four years here at Arizona."