Matt Vest is a 21 year old 196cm guard from Ohio that will be starting his professional career in Germany for the BiG Oettinger Rockets Gotha (Germany-ProA). He played at Wright State from 2010-2014 playing a total of 114 NCAA games and as a senior played 29 games: 7.4ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 65.4%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 64.9%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball earlier this summer before coming to Germany.
Matt where are you at the moment and how is your summer going along?
I am currently still living at my apartment at Wright State with a couple of teammates from last season. Summer is going great so far, just trying to improve my body and my game every day and spending as much time with friends and family as I can before I head over to Germany.
You signed very early as a professional. Was Gotha just 100% the best fit for you from your other offers?
Yes, I firmly believe that Gotha was the place for me. Committing to this organization so early was not a tough decision at all considering the vision that Coach Ensminger and Bjorn Snater have for the future. Speaking with them both before signing made it very clear that Gotha was the place for me to begin my career.
You will be coached by a basketball legend in Germany from Ohio Chris Ensminger. What was your impression of him when you spoke to him and he was selling you on Gotha?
There is no doubt that Coach Ensminger is a German basketball legend. His professional career certainly speaks for itself and its an honor and privilege to be able to work for him. After speaking with him several times on the phone and through email I was struck by his honesty and passion for Gotha. I am very lucky to have the chance to play for someone who values the same things I do, which are toughness, togetherness, and unselfishness.
What do you know about the basketball country Gemany besides that guys like Vaughn Duggins, Cooper Land and Dashaun Wood from Wright State have played here?
Honestly did not know much about basketball in Germany until I began talks with coach Ensminger and Bjorn Snater, but I have learned a lot in the last few months. I have come to understand the relegation process through the BBL, Pro A, and Pro B leagues, which is very unique.
You played four seasons at Wright State. The club was a tournament finalist the last two seasons. What in your mind was missing from Wright State being a championship team?
My career at Wright State was the best four years of my life. I was extremely blessed to be surrounded by so many great coaches, teammates, fans, and alumni who showed nothing but unwavering love and support. I don’t think anything was missing from Wright State being a championship team the last two years. Sometimes games come down to two or three possessions at critical moments and things don’t go your way. Losing back to back years in the conference championship was very painful, but the lifelong friendships I developed and experiences I lived will stay with me forever.
One´s notices that you can shoot from outside, but you pick your spots as you attempted only 58 shots and shot 43%. Is shooting your biggest strength?
I do think outside shooting is a strength of mine, but I also value shot selection which is critical to team success. I enjoy doing anything I can to win a game, whatever that may be.
What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right way on the court?
The biggest strength in my game that may not get noticed right away is the way I defend. I came from a high school and college program that defined itself with defense. I feel I can guard multiple positions at a high level, and sometimes that may be hard to see.
Players are always marveling about head coach Billy Donlon and his ability as being a basketball teacher. What was the most important thing that you learned form him that has prepared you to take the next step as a professional?
Coach Donlon is a tremendous coach and even better person. Playing for him was such a blessing because of what he taught me on and off the court. The most important thing he taught me that has prepared me for the professional level is how to be a competitor. He instilled a toughness, competitiveness, and work ethic in me that will never go away.
When you were a freshman, Vaughn Duggins was a senior. He has made a nice professional career in Europe in Germany and France. What is the most important thing that you learned from him on the court?
Vaughn is a warrior. He taught me so many things on the court, and even more off of it. The most important thing I learned from Vaughn on the court was how to be relentless in effort, energy, and competitiveness. His mental and physical toughness are unmatched and that is what I really admire and try to imitate about Vaughn.
Ex Wright State guard Dashaun Wood also has had a very solid professional basketball career in Europe. What stories did you hear about him as a freshman? I am sure Vaughn Duggins had some stories to tell?
Dashaun is probably the best point guard to ever play at Wright State. I do remember Vaughn and some of the older guys telling stories about his work ethic and how often he was in the gym
Who was the best player that you played against in the NCAA as an opponent that is in the NBA or in Europe now?
I was lucky enough (or unlucky depending how you look at it) to play against several great players in college. Norris Cole and Shelvin Mack were both players I played against several times in college who are now in the NBA.
How does a normal work out day in the summer look like for Matt Vest on and off the court?
This summer has been great for me because I can put all my time and energy into basketball without having academic responsibilities. I usually get up in the morning and cook myself some breakfast, head to the court and workout here at Wright State with the returners for next season, then I will grab some lunch and head back to my place and get off my feet for a bit. In the evening I will do weight training/stretching and then head home and have dinner with my family. I have dedicated myself to improving my body and skill set this summer, and definitely enjoy the process. The summer has been a lot of basketball and a lot of quality time with family, thats pretty much it.
Why do so many good basketball players come from the state of Ohio?
There are a lot of very good players that come from Ohio. I think that there are a lot of solid youth and high school programs around, which give kids the chance to develop their game from a young age.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Ride Along with Kevin Hart. My girlfriend and I enjoy going to movies together, and this was a really good comedy. We both loved it!
Thanks Matt for the chat.