The Bootleg: What areas of your game still present the greatest
challenges for you, on either offense or defense, that you feel you need
to work at?
Matt Haryasz: There is always room for improvement. In addition to working on my strength, I want to continue to work on my dribbling skills - especially my left hand. Additionally I want to shoot in the 80% range from the free throw line. I don't feel satisfied with my game at all – there is more to work on and I know it. I do not want to become complacent. I feel that you can never be satisfied with where you're at. I look forward to improving in all aspects of my game, both offensively and defensively.
The Bootleg: Much has been made of your height and growth. Can you
give us a little history of how you've grown the last year or two, and how the
physical changes have affected or not affected your game?
Matt Haryasz: I started my freshman year at 6'2". Starting my sophomore year I was 6'5". My junior year I grew to 6'8". I currently stand 6'10". I am aware that one Internet service or magazine article indicated that I was a guard until my growth spurt. Well, that is not exactly true. I did play the wing some, but for the most part I played at either the 4 or 5 position. That said, I have worked on my ball handling skills and there were numerous times this year I was called upon to help break full-court man-to-man presses. I don't think that my growth affected my game that radically because I was used to playing the low post. What I did do, however, was refine my low post moves, work on my outside shooting, and ball handling skills.
The Bootleg: What exactly is your height and weight today? Are you
still growing at all? Do you plan on carrying that same weight when you
arrive at Stanford, or are you looking to change it?
Matt Haryasz: As I mentioned, I stand at 6' 9 7/8" in my stocking feet – I know you don't play the game in socks but shoes are always different and that is as accurate as I can get. I currently weigh 210 lbs. I think my growth is pretty much over - but who knows. I would like to get stronger and heavier, and I continue to work in the weight room.
The Bootleg: You talked earlier about
how your recruitment "blew up" and went national after last summer and
the Adidas Big Time. Can you walk us through in some detail, which schools were
on you when, and how you eventually narrowed down your list - and then made your
final Stanford decision?
Matt Haryasz: My recruitment actually started toward the end of the summer of 2000, between my sophomore and junior years. That was the first time I attended the Adidas Big Time with the Arizona Heat. I wouldn't call it "played" in the tourney because I was the youngest guy on an veteran team and my time was so limited!. However, after the Big Time I got serious minutes when we moved on to the Best Of Summer tournament in Los Angeles. I had a good showing in L.A. and slowly things began to roll in. The very first letter I received from a "big time" school was from Iowa. Over the following weeks I began to receive interest from the Ivy League, the WCC notably Gonzaga, University of San Diego and Santa Clara, the Mountain West schools like Utah, and of course the beginnings of Pac-10 interest with USC, Oregon State, Oregon, and Washington. As you can see, most of the notice at this point was from West Coast schools. I received my first letter from Stanford in October of 2000, and Coach Montgomery contacted my high school coach shortly after that letter. Kansas began sending me correspondence around Christmas time.
As I concluded my junior year of high school play in February 2001, I hooked up again with my AAU team, the Arizona Heat, and I had successful showings in a couple more spring tournaments in L.A. The recruiting began in earnest afterward. At this point I was being recruited by just about all the Pac-10 schools. I was also receiving interest from Notre Dame, New Mexico, and tons of mid-majors. With all that being said, the first team that came to Page to watch me play was Stanford. Coach Rev must have drawn the short straw because he was the one that had to fly into Phoenix then take the long 5 hour drive up to Page to watch me shoot around. Oregon State was to follow in two days.
After my play in July's Adidas "Big Time" and the "Best Of Summer" in L.A., everything went crazy. As a recruiting analyst said, I went from "being a relative unknown to one of the most talked about players in the country." Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina, Ohio State, Northwestern, Rice, Texas Tech, San Diego State, Pepperdine, California, Washington and Boston College, were among a long list of others that entered the picture.
Although it was very flattering to have all those schools interested, it also began to be very difficult. I had to shave down my list. As one coach told me, "There are two good things that we can hear. The first is "yes" and the second is "no". Obviously we want to hear "yes" but if we are not in the running please let us know with a "no" answer so we can move on." After careful consideration, I decided I wanted to stay out West. So very quickly that eliminated a number of schools. I then zeroed in on schools that were relatively close to home so my mom and dad could watch me play. We decided to invite a number of schools into our home. My mom was partial to Loyola Marymount, so they were in; Santa Clara was another Jesuit school and they were in; New Mexico was fairly close to home so we were going to check them out; San Diego State was just a short plane ride from Phoenix so we continued to look at them; ASU, which I felt had a rising program and who had been doing an excellent job recruiting me, was being given a strong look; and of course, Stanford. As I got the list down to the final six or so, the process, which at one time was very new and exciting, had now become very stressful. The home visits helped to a degree, but ultimately I decided that I would like to play in the Pac-10, so that left two schools: ASU and Stanford.
The Bootleg: I know it's special for a
coach to make the trek to Page, and that might have made it a little more rare
for coaches to see you, as compared to other high school players. Can you talk
about the 'who' and 'when' specific to your Stanford recruitment? How did those
visits go, and what impressions did they leave you with regarding the Cardinal
and the basketball program?
Matt Haryasz: As I mentioned earlier, the first coach to make the trip to page was Coach Rev in April of 2001. Coach came up during the spring evaluation week to watch me shoot around and as he said, "to put a face to the name." During that visit, according to NCAA rules, coach Rev could not speak to me. He did however talk to my high school coach, Aaron Anderson, and guidance counselor, Richard Buck. Among other things, he shared with them it that Stanford was looking at me to play the 4 spot. At the time it was pretty heady stuff to receive the visit because Stanford was the number one team in the country a good portion of the year, and for them to make the trip was an indication of their interest.
The next visit by a Stanford coach was on September 10th. Coach Fuller was the lucky one to make the trip. This visit was a surprise visit during the school day, and I was able to speak with Coach Fuller only briefly, but he did have an extended visit with both Coach Anderson and Mr. Buck. I do recall that as Coach Fuller was leaving he held our handshake for a v