Russell Westbrook was born November 12, 1988 in Long Beach, California to parents Russell and Shannon. Soon after, his family moved to Hawthorne, California where Russell attended high school at Leuzinger High. Westbrook was a late bloomer: he entered his freshman year at 5’8’’and 140 pounds. He wasn’t one of the starting five until his junior season. However, these factors didn’t curb Russell’s ambitions to play college ball. His desire was fueled by his father’s constant attention and dedication to grooming Russell as a player. Every day, Russell Sr. would spend time with his son working on his shooting form.
Finally, during his sophomore season, Russell began to grow into his oversized hands and size-14 feet. His growth spurt brought him all the way up to 6’3’’ by his senior year. That season, Westbrook really began to catch the eye of college scouts. He scored 51 points in a victory at Carson his senior year, one of eight times he exceeded 30 that season. He averaged 25.1 points and 8.7 rebounds, leading little-known Leuzinger to the Division I-AA quarterfinals.
Russell signed to UCLA following his senior season and was thrust into a crowded backcourt that included established guards Afflalo, Collison and Josh Shipp. Westbrook averaged nine minutes a game during an erratic freshman season. For every highlight-reel dunk or coast-to-coast steal that brought the Pauley Pavilion crowd to its feet, there was a quick shot or ill-advised pass that sent him back to the bench.
In the off season, Russell dedicated himself to developing his game. He lifted weights and played pickup games with the NBA players who work out at UCLA during the summer. In the mornings he’d run sand dunes in Manhattan Beach with his younger brother, Raynard. In the evenings, he and his father would go to a nearby park where Westbrook would shoot jumpers until darkness obscured the rim.
The extra work elevated Westbrook’s game: Not only was he UCLA’s fourth-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game, but he also assumed the role of defensive stopper. During his sophomore season, Russell helped lead the Bruins to the final four before losing to Memphis. Following that loss, Russell declared that he would be entering the 2008 NBA draft.
Russell was a bit of an unknown during pre-draft scouting with projections of where he could be drafted spanning all over the lottery. When draft night finally arrived Russell was selected with the 4th overall pick by the Seattle Supersonics, who relocated to Oklahoma City shortly after. With a wealth of talent and a drive to be as good as he can be, Russell is set to take on the challenges of the NBA head on