Men's basketball seniors Josh Brown, Obi Enechionyia and Steve Leonard took time to share their memories and say Thank You to the Temple Community prior to their final home game Sunday against UCF.
| Enechionyia Letter
| Leonard Letter
When I was about 14 years old, I was named the MVP of a basketball tournament.
In the interview afterwards, they asked me what my dream school was and I told them my dream school was Temple, simply because my mother went there.
My mom passed away when I was one.
It's been a blessing and a humbling experience knowing my mom was here and having an angel, as I call it, watching over me. Sometimes I'm walking in her paths it feels like.
To graduate here, where she graduated, is just great.
I came here in memory of her and I know she is looking over me each and every day, on and off the court.
My favorite memory? There's a lot of them.
All of the memories I've built with my teammates throughout my five years here, with each and every team. The coaching staff, managers, the memories I have from road trips, home games, practices, days off just relaxing.
All of those memories, I just take to the bank with me.
My first game, man, I was a nervous wreck. It was at the Palestra and I heard all this stuff about the Big 5 and how legendary it is. And the Palestra, how historic it is and I was filled with a lot of jitters.
We won the game. I played decently as a freshman, but it was just good to be out there. I felt the energy, it was electric to look up while I was preparing for the game to know I was playing college basketball.
My favorite upset? My sophomore year, Kansas at the Wells Fargo Center.
We were shooting the lights off the ball, we didn't miss any shots. And we ran away with a victory, I think it was a 25- or 30-point victory and people were storming the court.
I remember that.
That's the first time I saw people storm the court at Temple, while I was there at least.
When we made the NCAA Tournament, it was great.
I just remember how loud the event was, it felt like a little taste of the NBA finals in the college world.
You have people watching your practice, taking photos and interviewing you and then you get to the game and it's a packed house in an NBA arena and it's not just people coming to watch the game, people are actually coming to root on their team.
You feel it as soon as you step into the arena and that feeling makes you want to go hard. Everyone wants to give their best.
That's why NCAA Tournament games are so good because everybody gives their best every time, but in the NCAA Tournament, it's the last song.
You put up or shut up.
That's why this year I had one goal: To win as many games as possible and get into the tournament and go from there.
It was a great opportunity that Temple allowed me to come back this year.
They gave me a chance to play last year and it didn't work out health-wise, and just to be back with these guys, they're like family and I've built a lot of friendships with these guys.
For them to push me every day to get better and not only get better to where I was, but to get even better than that, so that has been a great thing for me and I really appreciate it.
I'm truly thankful for you guys.
To my teammates first, all the memories we have and all the nicknames you gave me, like June-Bug, Gritz, just funny stuff like that, I really appreciate it. We will always be connected until we die.
To the coaching staff, thank you for pushing me each and every day and believing in me from the start, when I was a young kid, and bringing me into the program.
I have truly grown on and off the court from you all mentoring me and I'm grateful.
To all my family, my father, my mother who's looking down on me, all my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, thank you for supporting me and being behind me.
Whoever comes next, it's not about the number. But work as hard as you can. I was able to look myself in the mirror after every game and know I gave it my all, if you can do that after every practice, every time you are getting prepared to play, then you did a great job here at Temple.
I played as hard as I could each and every game. Sometimes I won and sometimes I lost, but at the end of the day I can always look myself in the mirror and say I gave it my all.
I hope you guys enjoyed the experience.
Once I took my first visit to Temple they were pretty much leading for the rest of my recruitment up until I committed during my senior year.
It wasn't even the official visit; it was just my first unofficial visit before they even offered me.
When I visited the campus for the first time during my junior year of high school, I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff and players and the team as a whole.
Temple was different.
I wouldn't say I could see myself going here from the day they started recruiting me, but after I stayed in touch with the coaches and learned more about the school and the program and things like that, it started to become apparent that Temple was going to be there until the end of my recruitment whether I picked them or not. But luckily it ended up as me picking Temple as my choice.
It felt really good to find a home for college and know exactly what I was going to do and have a plan.
My first memory is the first game. It wasn't a very memorable game for anyone else, but it was my first college minutes and my first points scored.
It was against American University and we won 40-37 at home. I'll always remember that.
There were obviously a lot of nerves. It was a completely different level from high school, it was a lot to get used to and I wasn't really sure what to expect. But once I got into the game and got into the flow of things, I started to get more comfortable and I really started to see myself as a Division I basketball player.
I remember after that game, thinking back and realizing that I can play at that level and just being excited for the rest of my time at Temple.
Then, my sophomore year we made the NCAA Tournament.
Growing up I always watched the tournament and I can't even say I expected to play in it in college. It was never in my plans, but once I finally got the chance to play in it my sophomore year it was crazy.
The atmosphere was a full arena at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, playing against Iowa, another good team.
It was really special to play in front of my family in the NCAA Tournament.
Another thing I'll never forget here at Temple is winning those big games against teams we supposedly weren't supposed to.
My freshman year we beat Kansas and I think that's the best upset I can remember here at Temple.
That was just special for a number of reasons, watching the fans rush on the court -- which we have seen every year since I have been here.
Those are things you never forget. Being an underdog like that and beating teams that are supposedly ranked higher.
Those are just memories I will always keep.
But it wasn't just my teammates and myself who made those memories.
To the fans:
Thank you. There have been a lot of ups and downs here during my time at Temple. And there have been some really supportive fans who have supported me through my ups and downs.
I think as a player that's all you can really ask for, unwavering support, and I think we have fans at Temple who really enjoy supporting us regardless of the wins and the losses so I appreciate the fans who are willing to stick with us through it all.
I will always remember seeing my poster, my Fat Head, that they hold behind the baseline, for the first time my freshman year. When I first saw it I remember getting really excited because that's something they really didn't do in high school, so being able to see that in college is special.
To my teammates and coaches:
Thank you for sticking with me through the ups and the downs, thank you for helping me out when I needed it, regardless of whether it was on the court or off the court. Thank you for just being there as teammates or coaches and playing that role pretty much perfectly.
I try to lead by example. I'm know I'm not always the most vocal guy, but I try to show you the right way to work and the right way to do things on the court and with my work ethic, showing you exactly how to get better and how to improve.
I have tried to prepare you for the roller coaster of the college career to the best of my ability – I hope I have done it well.
To my brothers, my mom, my dad, my step mom, all my boys back home, my coaches, everyone that has supported me and everyone that has had a hand in my success:
I wouldn't be here without you. I just want to thank you for sticking with me and being there throughout my college career.
Lastly, to the next player who will put on the number zero jersey:
Enjoy the process, enjoy the grind.
It's not always going to be easy. It's going to get tough. It's going to be pretty tough throughout your career, but you have to stick with the process and remember why you're at Temple and who you're doing it for.
And as for the next step in my career, I'm just excited to get my diploma in May.
I have a video on my Instagram from the year before I made the team. Temple upset SMU and I stormed the court.
Fast forward to this year, we knock off Wichita State and I'm on the team storming the court watching all the fans rush the court.
I can't believe I'm here right now, and I can't believe that happened.
Three years ago, I had no intention of playing Division I basketball.
It was always a dream of mine, but the reality was I didn't think I was strong enough, big enough, quick enough, or good enough essentially to play.
I transferred to Temple my third year of college and I was a normal college student. Honestly, I thought I was done playing basketball. I thought I was just going to focus on my education.
It wasn't until my fourth year of college when I told myself, "You know, you're in a situation where you have a really good opportunity in front of you."
So, I walked into the basketball office one day, asked about walk-on tryouts. Katie, at the front desk, told me she would take my contact information down and give me some paperwork.
Things started flowing from there.
I found out tryouts would be in a month from that point, so I only had a month or so to prepare.
The second tryout was when they pulled me in. I got in contact with Jake Shechtman
, our video coordinator, and he told me, "Listen, we are going to bring you in for a workout and see what you can do."
They brought me in for a private workout and it was just like playing three on three basketball with assistant coach Aaron McKie
and some of the other graduate assistants and coaches.
That was the craziest thing to me. I go from not even knowing if I'm going to make the team to all of a sudden guarding Aaron McKie
in a three on three game. That was crazy.
I was watching practice a couple days after that workout and after practice Coach Dunphy came up to me and said, "Listen, here's what we are looking for and we think you fit that perfectly and we want to bring you on to help us out."
I was speechless.
I called my mom right away and it was the coolest phone call ever because she was freaking out. It was awesome.
My first game, we opened up against La Salle and the stands were packed. It was the first game of the year and everyone was hyped.
was on the team at the time and he told me, "There's no better feeling than that first game. Coming out of the tunnel, running out onto the court."
And he was right.
That feeling was unreal.
This year, we played at Madison Square Garden and that is the dream if you're a basketball player, to play in Madison Square Garden.
Just being in that arena and taking in the history of that gym was the highlight of my two years here.
It was just amazing, especially because my dad, back when he played in college, played there too. So it was kind of coming full circle with my family because he got to play there and now I was able to play there too. I'm still speechless about it.
This year on my birthday, February 7, we played East Carolina.
I will remember that game for the rest of my life.
We were up I'd say 20 at that point and the last five, 10 minutes of the game the fans were just chanting, "We want Steve, we want Steve." They were just chanting my name, wanting to see me get in on my birthday.
As soon as I took my warmup jersey off, they just erupted. The fans were going crazy and I had a rush of energy.
Honestly, that was one of the coolest feelings ever. Just to have that many people support me and have the crowd go nuts like that was amazing.
I'll remember that for the rest of my life.
So I would like to give a really, really big thank you to all the fans. Although I'm not on the court as much as people want or expected or whatever, I appreciate the support -- especially from the band.
They are the ones who rallied behind "We want Steve." It means so much to me that people care that much to do that, especially for a guy like me who's not even playing a whole lot.
To the players last year who graduated and our current players this year, thank you. Thank you for taking me in and making me feel welcome and laughing with me, cracking jokes.
We have built that bond that I hope to keep for many years to come.
To my coaches, I want to thank you for seeing something in me to bring me on the team and help out. I can't thank you enough because this has changed my life.
Just being a part of this program, it was just amazing.
But I really owe this all to my Mom and Dad for encouraging me. I can't thank them enough for all of their support. They mean the world to me.
And for whoever who is going to fill my shoes next, it's going to be a tough journey, just embrace it and have fun with it. Work hard every day, take no days off, try your best, compete as best as you can and have fun with it. It's going to be a great journey. Soak it all in.
Be positive, work hard and good things will come your way.
It's truly been a blessing to be on this team.