Let's see - Matt Roth is too slow; he's not tall enough; he doesn't play good competition; who can he guard; will he be able to get a shot off when better defenders guard him; can he handle the ball well enough; and finally, can he really play at the DI level. All those things have been said about Roth and he's heard them all. So those of us here at InsideIllini.com asked him to expand on a lot of those comments.
Matt is a 6-3 shooting guard from Washington (IL), a member of the class of 2008 and considered one of the nation's finest shooters.
"People are always going to try to find something negative to talk about with everyone, not just me. I just go out and play and if coaches see something they like then maybe they will pursue me more. I can't lie; Illinois is my dream school. I've always liked them and followed them. I can name players that most fans probably have forgotten about at Illinois. My dad is a big fan too. I've been down there to play once but that's about it. I really liked it," said Roth.
Roth's first game he scored 46 points, making 7-10 three pointers in the first half of action. All of them were from deep, different sides of the court and it didn't matter who guarded him. Sitting behind me was former Colorado Buffalo PG Mike Reid. He was on his cell phone telling someone, "Yes, this kid can play but can he do it when better players are in his face?" Two hours later Mike Reid and I watched Roth take every punch Rockford Auburn (a much better defensive team) had to offer. He was face-guarded most of the time I watched, which was the first half of action. Roth attempted five threes while I watched, knocking all of them down. During that game, the most impressive thing about Roth was that he took people off the dribble and got to the lane. Something he's worked on. "I know people feel I can't get to the rim. I can; I've done it all summer long," said Roth.
One reporter said, "Someone is really missing the boat with this kid. It seems like a few schools saw him and put a label on him and walked away. You can't tell me, as bad as shooting teams we have in college basketball, this kid can't play for someone?" Well, St. Louis is working him very hard along with ISU and Bradley, according to Roth.
I came away very impressed with Roth and his skills. He proved to me that he's able to play with the "big boys". As a matter of fact, Washington won the tournament beating Cedar Rapids Kennedy (51-47 in OT), the team many felt was by far the best team in the field.
"I'm glad that any school is taking interest in me and my game. Hopefully this weekend I can show more people what I can do," stressed Roth.
This kid is old school. Most have cell phones, computers, you name it. "I don't have a cell phone. We don't even have caller ID at my house. I don't read what people have to say about me on the computer; it's a waste of time. If it's that important, my friends or coaches will tell me. My mom has looked a few times but that's about it," Roth said.
We'll keep you updated this summer on Matt's future.