LOS ANGELES — Jordan Wilkes was asked about this hypothetical scenario: Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery invites UCLA's Alfred Aboya to deliver an elbow to the chest of the Bears' junior center at the outset of tonight's Pac-10 game at Pauley Pavilion.
"That might work," Wilkes said, laughing.
As the Golden Bears (16-4, 5-2) visit the No. 22 Bruins (15-4, 5-2), Wilkes understands his coaches and Cal fans would like him to show some aggression on the court.
"I definitely try to find ways to get mad and get angry," Wilkes said. "But it's not really my nature."
No argument from Montgomery, who repeatedly has said this season he likes his 7-foot post player. "He is a very laid-back kid, good sense of humor, very smart kid," Montgomery said.
All of which makes Wilkes a great student, good friend, terrific son and promising citizen.
But the nasty streak that an athlete wants to be able to switch on when the game begins?
"It's something I've been working on pretty much my whole career, to try to dispel that notion and try to get ready to take no prisoners," Wilkes said.
After the Bears' 69-65 upset loss at the hands of Oregon State last Thursday night, Montgomery tore into his team a bit, then addressed several players individually.
One was Wilkes, who had zero points and one rebound against the Beavers.
"Just go out and give us what you have," Montgomery told him.
"He's just got to be more
Two days later, Wilkes had eight points and four rebounds, and the Bears beat Oregon 76-69.
"He called me out, and as a player you never want to be called out for a lack of performance," Wilkes said. "I took it as a challenge and wanted to prove him wrong."
Wilkes — who has started every game this season — said he enjoys playing for Montgomery. Still, he's not sure about his plans for 2009-10.
Because he sat out the 2006-07 season with a knee injury, he has one more year of basketball eligibility. But he expects to graduate this spring and is contemplating grad school.
Returning for the 2009-10 season "is definitely a possibility," he said. "All the doors are open."
Tonight, Wilkes will walk through the doors at Pauley Pavilion, where his father, former two-time All-America forward Jamaal Wilkes, helped UCLA to national championships in 1972 and"'73. That shadow doesn't bother him.
"There's no baggage at all because it's a special place for me to play," Wilkes said. "I always get excited just to go to L.A. Family's down there, then you add on who my father is."
Even his Cal teammates are familiar with the man they called "Silk."
"I don't think he's out there trying to fill the shoes of his father. If that was the case, I think he would have gone to UCLA," guard Patrick Christopher said. "Just as a basketball player, having the last name on my jersey would be cool enough for me. To say, 'That's my dad.'""
Jordan Wilkes knows that feeling firsthand.
"I just feel so blessed and so fortunate to have a man such as him in my corner," Wilkes said. "He's just a normal dad rooting for his kid."
Contact Jeff Faraudo at firstname.lastname@example.org.