Perfect Fit

If there's such a thing as a perfect fit for a basketball program or system, West Virginia may have found one in a sharpshooting forward from the upper Midwest.

Adam Koch, a six-foot eight-inch forward from Ashwaubenon High School in Green Bay, Wisc., has just about every tool that Mountaineer head coach John Beilein looks for in a player. But while the rising senior is a typical Beilein recruit, he's certainly a player that's out of the ordinary for most programs. Ashwaubenon coach Jeff VandeLoo considers himself lucky to have such a versatile, skilled performer.

"Adam is just a very unique player," said the delightfully named VandeLoo, who uses his star at just about every position on the floor. "He's 6-8, but he's very skilled. He can drive to the basket, put the ball on the floor and score, and shoot the three. He can play inside and outside on both the offensive and defensive ends. Now, he's not going to go inside and bang and overpower people, but can get it done inside. I've had a lot of players who went on to college, some Division I, and a lot of Division II and III, but he's the best I've ever had. When I talked with Coach Beilein and Coach Maker, we commented on what a perfect fit he was for West Virginia's system.

"It funny, because my wife and I happened to be in Albuquerque when West Virginia was there," VandeLoo said of the fact that WVU is a leading contender for Koch's services. "They were certainly special to watch. It was a great demonstration of basketball and of the team game."

West Virginia is hoping to complete the fit with a commitment from Koch, who could play either the three or the four at WVU. Mountaineer assistant coach Mike Maker was in Wisconsin last week to watch Koch practice, and hopes to add Koch to what will probably be at least a five-member class of 2006.

"The beauty of his game is that he passes and gets everyone involved, and is a complete player," VandeLoo said. "He's a special person off the court too. He's the kind of kid you would want for a son. He's a great student, works hard, and tries to do everything we tell him to do on the court."

That encompasses a lot of ground, for VandeLoo runs a variety of offensive sets to take advantage of Koch's talent.

"We play five-man motion, swing and high-low," VandeLoo ticked off. "He can screen, come off and shoot, and we'll post him up too. We try to take whatever the defense gives. We'll post him up against smaller players, or step him out against big guys. We try to use him in a lot of different ways, and we also have about 15 special plays designed for him."

"We play him anywhere from the two to the five," VandeLoo continued. "We have good guards, so we mostly play him at the three, four, or five. Next to Adam our tallest guy is 6-3, so he often has to guard the biggest player on the other team, but he can guard big guys or small guys."

Koch, by all accounts, is a solid team player who isn't concerned with putting up big stats or making the eye-popping play. He's about fundamentals and getting the job done, and involving everyone around him. He's earned good experience by going against players his size or bigger on defense, which should stand him well when he continues his career on the collegiate level.

To be sure, however, his team-oriented outlook might have kept him off of some radar screens during his junior season. With many "players to watch" lists being generated months, and sometimes years, in advance, players like Koch often go unnoticed. However, as the current vernacular goes, Koch has "blown up", during the current AAU season, and has been garnering attention and offers at a steady rate.

"About January, he made the decision to try to have a bigger and more consistent impact on the game," VandeLoo said. "Not trying to take the game over, but to have more influence. By May, at tournaments, he found a comfort zone and was just being himself. I told him when he left for [AAU] tournaments in Louisville and Indianapolis to just be himself and he would impress. He didn't have to be flashy. He did that, and his confidence and level of play have really gone up."

Another factor that has greatly contributed to Koch's development has been the style of play of his AAU team, the Randolph Boys Club. While many AAU squads seem to exist only to see how many shots they can fire up or how many dunks they can throw down, Koch's team is cut from a different mold. Coached by Hugh Roberts, RBC is, in many respects, a mirror image of Ashwaubenon, and by extension, West Virginia.

"[Roberts] emphasizes team play," said a grateful VandeLoo, who benefits mightily from the fact that he doesn't have to reprogram his star after the summer season. "Coach Roberts has no ego, and isn't in it to make a name for himself. His concern is teaching his players and helping them improve. He gets guys like Adam who are team players, and who play the game together. The AAU experience has been a great one for Adam. He plays there a lot like we play, and it has really helped boost his confidence."

As a result, Koch moves smoothly from AAU competition to his high school team's season, and gets much greater benefit from summer competition than many players. It's just that fact that has allowed Koch to excel during AAU tournaments this year, and which has resulted in his rapidly rising stock among college recruiters.

One concern among that contingent is Koch's size. He currently checks at right around 200 pounds, which would put him on the lower end of the scale for Big East forwards. Of course, Beilein made do with a pair of forwards last year that never got above that mark, but VandeLoo thinks his Division-I bound standout won't have any problem putting on some bulk.

"He was 185 pounds during [his junior] season, but he's been working out with a trainer at the Sports Medicine Clinic," VandeLoo explained. "He's put on about 16 pounds since the end of the season. I think that in a college strength program, and with the maturing process, he'll be able to put on 25-30 pounds without losing any of his athleticism."


  • Koch and his AAU teammates are scheduled to be in Las Vegas this weekend for another tournament.

  • True to the rest of his well-rounded persona, Koch is also excellent in the classroom. He sports a 3.5 GPA and racked up a 28 on his first try on the ACT.

    "He was actually disappointed in that because he had a 32 in math," VandeLoo said with a laugh. "I had to tell him a 28 is pretty good."

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