Aki Collins Interview Part 1

MU assistant coach Aki Collins talks about what he and the staff look for when recruiting.

On what characteristics the staff looks for when recruiting.
"Well, the first thing we look for is toughness. If you're not tough, you can't play for Buzz. I don't care how talented you are. I don't care how many stars you have by your name. If you're not a tough kid mentally, not so much physically—Todd Smith does a great job with our guys on the physical aspect of it—but if you're not tough enough mentally to play in this conference and play for Buzz, it just doesn't work. So, if we're looking at two kids, one maybe a little more talented than the other but the other has more toughness, we're going to go with the kid with more toughness nine times out of ten. Obviously, the academic component plays a major role in what we are trying to do here—it's a tough school, very challenging—so kids have to work hard, be able to conduct themselves in the class room and also represent the university in a positive light. So a lot of those things—character would probably be the best way to sum it up—but those are the things we look for in recruiting."

On identifying prospects:
"A lot of it is word-of-mouth. A lot of it is the scouting services. A lot of it is seeing kids play. I have some tricks of the trade that I like to utilize to find out about kids. There are many kids out there that play high school basketball; you have got to find the ones that are best suited for your program. Obviously they have to have the talent level to play in the BIG EAST—knowing how challenging this conference is, the various teams and styles your going to go up against. A kid has to really have a lot about him ability-wise to be able to play in this league. But identifying prospects is probably the easiest part of what we do. Anybody can send you a name and you can watch a tape on him or do some research and find out if the kid is even close to being at your level. Once you identify, that's when your real work starts."

On how the staff establishes contact with prospects
"The first thing you ask them is if they know anything about Marquette. Obviously Marquette sells itself, we've had a lot of success here in the past and the not too distant past so a lot of kids are aware of our tradition. So that cuts out a lot of the introductory talk…"Hey, do you know anything about Marquette"...the first thing they want to know is where it is located. So you kind of tell him that and after that it's about a fit, it's about a style of play, it's about what we're (the staff) is looking for in recruiting—who we have to replace, how do they fit in. We recruit nationally, so one of the things you want to establish early on is distance from home going to be a factor—if you're talking about a kid from the east coast or the west coast. But once you identify what some of the "hang-ups" are going to be, then it makes it easier for you to decide hey do I need to pursue this. A lot of kids are very talented and you may have a great relationship on the phone with them, but once you start doing the research—talking to people within their circles, talking to whoever you need to talk to—you realize hey, that kids not going anywhere from home, he's going to drive 35 minutes away from home and that's it. So those kids you kind of follow through with but you know I can't put all my eggs in that one basket because it's a long shot. There's one thing we can't change and that's where the school is located."

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