Roth's Prep Coach Talks About IU-Bound Guard

Washington (Ill.) Coach Kevin Brown talks about the Hoosiers' latest commit, Matt Roth. Brown addresses the talk about Roth being the best shooter in the '08 class, how the decision-making process played out in the final couple of weeks, and what sort of upside he thinks Roth has in Bloomington...

What kind of player is Indiana getting in Matt Roth?
He's a kid that has an incredible work ethic. He spends 4-5 hours in the gym, not to mention the amount of time he spends on his driveway at night. He's a basketball junkie who is in love with the game. He has a very high basketball IQ. But it goes deeper than that. He looks at a situation where he can be a leader and always puts the team first, even on his AAU team.

As far as his talent on the floor, there's no doubting he's a great shooter, but they're getting a lot more than a shooter. On his AAU team he's more of a shooter, but when he's with us he puts the ball on the floor, gets to the basket, and can guard bigs, all those kinds of things.

They are getting an athlete who is just starting to mature. He's a later developer physically. They're getting a little bit more of an athlete than maybe even they realize.

At what point did you realize you had a high Division I player?
He was our leading scorer as a freshman, and did things freshmen don't do. Even when he wasn't physically able to physically get after it. He was beaten up a little bit as a freshman, but he was always able to find other ways to make himself successful.

He could shoot, but he could always get by defensively because of his IQ and his understanding of the game. But even then I knew he had something special because of his work ethic, and he takes in everything.

He's the most coachable kid I've ever had, and to put that with his talent level – that's why I think his upside is so great. I have no doubt he can play at that level.

How big was he back when he was a freshman, and what's contributed to his being better able to handle going up against bigger bodies?
He was about 6-0, about 140 pounds as a freshman. He spent a lot of time in the weight room. We spent four days a week in the weight room all year long. His foot speed has always been an issue, but we found a lot of that was the hit he was taking (on screens) was slowing him down. So we've done a lot of work with his legs not just on foot speed but being able to run through that contact.

The last year, two years, he's gotten stronger. He's been able to put the ball on the floor to score. He has a great mid-range game to go along with his 3-point shooting.

At what point did Indiana start showing interest in Matt?
"The assistant coaches had been on him for a year, and they were looking at several kids, and it came down to they needed a shooter. Coach Sampson called me about the 18th or 19th of July, and he was very interested and said the assistants were very high on Matt, and that he wanted to watch him in Las Vegas and would get back to me.

I went out (to Las Vegas) with (Matt), and Coach (Sampson) got hold of me when I got back and said he wanted to offer him. That's when we made a couple visits over there.

What was the draw for Matt with Indiana?
Indiana, with him being such a basketball junkie – in this day and age a kid doesn't always understand the history of Indiana basketball. With Matt being the way he is, he understood that history, he knew what he was walking into. I think it was still a little eye-opening but he knew he was walking into it and what that history brings.

I knew he'd be very impressed with the university and the basketball stuff there. It was a matter of getting that connection with the coaches. They did a great job in short time of connecting that bond.

Then, the last thing was I felt he was able to get to know the players when he was over there. He spent a lot of time with Eric Gordon and D.J. White, and he got the feeling that not only did coach have a total grip of the program and the players, but those two guys weren't going to allow anything but success there.

Some have called Matt the best shooter in the '08 class.
I can't say I've seen anyone who compares to him. I spent a lot of time with him at the AAU tournaments. That ability he can step back and has that option to put it on the floor. You see guys that are up in him, up in him, and all of a sudden he steps to 25 feet and they think, ‘I'm safe now' and that's when he dumps it on them.

He has a great stroke. Probably the best thing about him is when he misses a couple, his basketball IQ is so high he adjusts his shot so quick to get back on track.

When I haven't seen everybody I hate to say he's the best shooter in the nation, but if someone can find a better one they better grab him real quick. He's as good as I've seen. I have a lot of friends that are coaching in college, and one said they haven't seen anyone who is at that level.

It appeared some other programs wanted to get involved late and Matt decided to not open it back up. Is that accurate?
"There was no doubt there were so many programs that were involved and then a bunch jumped in late. What that did, he's a kid who is so well grounded. It wasn't ever with him, ‘how many schools can I get to recruit me?' It was ‘what's my best bit.'

Indiana was the first of the schools to come in late…there were 3-4 schools that Matt had that been very, very loyal to him and did a great job of recruiting him, that he felt maybe he could take on one more but he wasn't going to open the door because that was disrespectful to those other schools that had been with him so long.

Matt had said he had to decide if he was better suited at a smaller school like St. Louis or Bradley where he could step in right away and be a big contributor, or go with a bigger school like Indiana where he might be viewed as a "role" player. Is that something the two of you discussed?
"Definitely. That's when I felt we were making ground. Everyone recruited him so well, their relationships were so good, we found ourselves bouncing around, one would be third one week and the next week they'd be No. 1.

It got down to that he felt Indiana was the best option for him basketball wise. When he got down tot that, he felt he said that if I'm not going to go to Indiana which is the best option basketball wise, then I need to stay as close to him, because that's the reason I wouldn't take that opportunity.

That's when he took St. Louis out. They did a great job recruiting him and spent a lot of time as his No. 1 choice. Opportunity, that's what it came down to. Comfort level in going to a Bradley and know you're going to get an opportunity to play. He told me the other night that I want the best opportunity I can to have a chance to win a national championship all four years I'm there. I said well, you know where you are at and decide which one would give you that best chance.

It was tough. Bradley is eight miles from us. He's kind of been a Bradley fan all his life, attended Coach Les' camps when he was young. And they did a great job recruiting him. But I think he's always had that dream of playing in the Big Ten. I don't know that it was at Indiana where he thought he'd be, but the opportunity came and he took it.

He's level headed, he knows they are looking at him as a shooter, and he's going to have a role. But he's a kid that once he gets on the floor he's going to do everything he can to show he belongs on that floor and get more playing time.

What sort of impact did Matt's recent trip to Bloomington (for the Elite Camp) have on Matt's decision?
"I think the biggest thing was without having an opportunity to meet all the players, it was getting a feel for how things are going to go with coach Sampson. He got the impression that it didn't matter what type of people those guys he hadn't met were – he felt those two (D.J. White and Eric Gordon) were so dedicated to what their focus is, that anyone that came in during the next four years would have that relayed to them." Top Stories