When you think of 7 footers in basketball, chances are you think of players with a strong inside presence and post game. While you do get that with incoming Miner freshman Matt Willms, you also get a kid who can shoot the ball from basically anywhere on the court. Of course, you'd like to see him take advantage of his size, and get most of his shots around the rim, but its nice to have a player that deserves attention no matter where he is in the offense.
Originally from Leamington, Ontario (CAN), Willms made his way to the states a few years back to pursue his dream of playing professional basketball. Like many kids up North, Matt was a hockey player growing up. But, somewhere along the way, he put his hockey gear down and took up the game of basketball. In fact, that was only about 4 years ago.Matt first landed in Michigan, playing at Cosortium Prep in the Detroit area. But, after a year there, he decided the best opportunity for him to improve his game was to move across the country to play at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. It turned out to be a great move. He was able to play alongside some of the premier talent in the country like Anthony Bennett (UNLV), Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Winston Shephard (San Diego St.), and Dominic Artis (Oregon).
Interestingly enough, Willms will be able to compete against 3 of his former teammates this season, as the Miners have games scheduled against UNLV, Arizona, and Oregon. I got a chance to ask Matt what it was like playing behind guys like these who were considered some of the top prospects in the nation. He said:
"It definitely helped. Because everyday, I'd go in there, and I know I'd play against a couple of the top guys in the nation. It was a good experience, and they taught me that you don't have to ranked to prove something."
While Willms may not have been as highly ranked in the 2012 recruiting class as some of his Findlay teammates, he still had plenty of the top programs in the country requesting his services. Marquette, Missouri, Providence, San Diego St., Texas A&M, UNLV, and others all offered Willms a scholarship. But, in the end CTF was able to work his magic once again.
Willms will come in and play C behind junior John Bohannon, and that could possibly be a great thing for him. Throughout his time at UTEP, Bo has been able to improve his interior game and footwork tremendously. If Matt can learn from him, and show a similar interior presence he should be a solid post player. And, combine that with his ability to shoot from range, and you could have the complete package.
The addition of Willms to an already stout group will ensure that there will be no loose ends on the Miner front line. Besides Matt and Bo, there is also talented sophomore PF Cedrick Lang, junior PF Malcolm Moore, sophomore F/C Hooper Vint, and freshman PF Chris Washburn Jr. The great thing is the all of them together create an endless amount of possibilities.
I would say that its almost a certainty that Bo and Ced will be the starting big men come season's tip, but really all of these guys, Willms included, will be competing for significant playing time. For now though, like we've heard so many times this offseason, its just time to get in the gym, work hard, and prepare for a successful season.