The schedule of a college basketball player is hectic, full of long, planned-out days.
Athletes wake up early for practice before rushing off to class, only to see their day full of studying, lifting and other tasks. That's a typical day, with game days taking up more of athletes' time.
While many know this aspect of a player's life, they do not know about the little things that can affect a player's life. One thing that many take for granted is the ability to go home. For most collegiate basketball players, this is non-existent. When the University of Minnesota men's basketball players aren't in season or school, they are participating in summer leagues.
One member of the Golden Gopher squad who was able to go home this summer for the first time in a while was senior Lawrence Westbrook. Previously he had never been home for a long period time during his college career.
"When I left prep school I left on a Sunday and I caught a flight here," Westbrook said. "I caught a flight here and that Monday morning we had lifting at five o'clock. So, I had no summer vacation. I had to come right here. I really haven't been home since my junior year of high school because when I went to prep school, it was in another state."
Westbrook's previous summers were spent playing in summer leagues and taking courses. This past summer, however, the Gopher guard spent his time hanging out with old friends and his family.
"It was very important because I got to clear my mind," Westbrook said. "All the pressure was off. I got to relax at home. It was good to get my mom's cooking again. It was definitely beneficial for me to go home."
It wasn't all play for Westbrook, though. He said he also worked on his basketball skills and strengthened his body by lifting weights. The only difference between his normal workout schedule and his home workout schedule was that Westbrook had the freedom to choose when he wanted to work out.
"It was relaxing," the Gopher guard said. "I didn't have to go to class and worry about that. I'm more comfortable at home in Arizona because that's where I'm from. I worked out on my own schedule and I hung out all day with my friends and family."
The closest Westbrook had been to being home came last year when Minnesota faced the University of Louisville Dec. 20 in Glendale, Ariz. It was the first time in a while that Westbrook was able to have family and old friends watch him play. However, the senior guard said his dad often makes it to most home Gopher games and some road games during the course of the season.
"I had a lot of family and friends there and that was cool to see them," Westbrook explained. "It was a good experience, but I was in foul trouble so I didn't really get to have the game I wanted to. It was still cool to play there and be a part of that history playing at the new stadium."
Another thing Westbrook was able to do again for a long time was watch his little sister Simone play basketball; something Westbrook has not done since he was a junior in high school. To watch her play, the family traveled to California and Nevada to see the younger Westbrook play in basketball tournaments.
"It's fun. I haven't seen anybody her age better than her," Westbrook said. "She got region player of the year last year as a freshman. So, I'm excited for her upcoming season."
While at home the Minnesota guard was able to practice with his sister at Arizona State University's new practice facility. Westbrook said they worked on dribble moves as well as shooting together. The two didn't work out just solely by themselves, either. Westbrook said his brother Tajh also worked out with the two as well as other Division I athletes. One athlete in particular Westbrook said he worked out with was Minnesota native Trent Lockett, who is a freshman at Arizona State.
As Westbrook contiunes his final campaign with the Gophers, he will be doing so with a relaxed mind. It's always good to return home, and for someone who hadn't been there four years, it was about time.