With Sam Dower officially signing with Gonzaga, and Cole Stefan being one of the top targets for Gonzaga in the class of 2010, TKR felt it was time to check in with Marquise Watts, head coach of Net Gain Sports. Earlier today, our correspondent was able to put together a terrific interview with Coach Watts. In case we have any new readers, Coach Watts is the AAU coach for both Sam Dower and Cole Stefan. TKR would like to send a big thank you to both our correspondent, and to Coach Watts for putting together this informative and terrific interview.
TKR: Have you spoken with Sam since he officially signed? How does he feel about signing, and how do you feel now that he is officially signed?
Coach Watts: I talked to Sam a couple of times. Sam is feeling good, and he is really excited. It's one of those things where he wants to have a great senior year, but at the same time, he can't wait to get started at Gonzaga. He keeps talking about how good of a team Gonzaga is going to have this year, and all the good stuff about the school.
I'm just happy anytime good stuff happens to good people. I'm ecstatic about it, because Sam is as good as they come. It's going to be greatness for Sam Dower. He is willing to work hard, and with Coach Few, Coach Rice, and Coach Giacoletti, he has some of the best coaches in the business. With a kid like Sam, those coaches are going to be great for him. Put all of that together, and I think Sam is going to have a great career.
TKR: What type of production do you expect from Sam for his senior year? How high do you think he can be ranked at the end of the season?
Coach Watts: I told him that I think he should average 25 (points) and 12 (rebounds) this year. I really think he is capable of 25 and 15. In limited playing time last year, when he came off the bench, he averaged 14 points. I saw what he did during AAU this summer, so I know he should be a walking 20 and 10. I really do think that is realistic.
I think when all is said and done, when the rankings come out in May, Sam will end up in the top 75. I think he is #119 on rivals right now, but he should end up between 75-85.
TKR: What schools are recruiting Cole Stefan the hardest? What schools does he hold offers from, and does he have any favorites?
Coach Watts: Cole has offers from Illinois St., Northern Iowa, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Drake, Tulsa, Oral Roberts, and William and Mary. The schools that are recruiting him the hardest are Gonzaga, Nevada really likes him, and Washington St., he is a Tony Bennett type player. Minnesota is recruiting him as well, but Cole wants to see how the 09' class works out. Penn State is recruiting him, and he has offers from the Montana schools. Pretty much, half of the MVC (Missouri Valley Conference) has offered him.
He is pretty open with his recruitment. He really loved his time at the Gonzaga elite camp. He liked how men's basketball was the focus and that it was the main sport. There's no football team, and that is really exciting for Cole. His sport is going to be the focal point. The coaches showed him highlight when he was there, and he was impressed with how the students and the school react to basketball.
Cole has not started one game at the high school varsity level yet. Last season, he played behind the guy who will be the starting PG at Iowa this season. He played for the best school in the state, and they had 3-4 DI players. His recruitment is similar to Sam's. They have many similar schools interested, because they weren't the focal point for their teams last season. This year, Cole will probably be the leading score in the area. In ESPN Rise Magazine preview issue, Sam was on 1st team all state and Cole was on the 3rd team.
TKR: What do you plan on working with Cole the most during the upcoming AAU season? Where does he need to improve the most to contribute at the DI level?
Coach Watts: Right now, he is one of the best at catching and shooting. I would put Cole up against any player in the 2010 class at catching and shooting. The thing he is working on is putting the ball on the floor, and then elevating and making some buckets. He is improving athletically, and is meeting with an individual trainer 2-3 times per week.
He is really getting after it, and improving. Guys are saying his game has improved greatly since they last saw him play.
TKR: Does Cole plan on taking any visits this year?
Coach Watts: Cole was supposed to visit for the Idaho game. He had to reschedule his visit though. He has got tests in school this week, and one of his parents had a meeting. It just made it so that this wasn't the right timing. He wants to come out for a really really good game.
I am coming out for the Memphis game, and we are going to look at his schedule to see if he can come to. It is tough, because Gonzaga plays on Saturday nights. Cole and Sam typically have games on Saturday, so it is hard to get into Spokane for a game that night.
TKR: Where does Cole compare with some of the elite players like Sam Dower and Trent Lockett that you have coached?
Coach Watts: I think Cole is a better natural scorer then those guys, and he has always been right up there. Sam slowly came into his own, while Trent just got so big and athletic that he became special. Cole has always been a guard, and has always played the two or the combo guard. When I look at his potential, I would yes he can definitely play at a school like Gonzaga. I've coached Cole since he was 12, so I have seen him play more than the other guys.
Cole's best ability is that he can flat out score. Last week in fall league, the kid hit 7 threes in row. During the game, I was sitting on the side, and I jokingly told him to show me something. He was bringing up the ball on a break, and took one dribble past halfcourt and then shot. He hit it, and it was nothing but net. Cole was our second leading scorer this past summer. Sam averaged 22 points and Cole averaged 15.
With all of those guys, I feel blessed. I am truly blessed because I have been able to coach great kids.
TKR would like to once again thank Coach Watts for taking the time to do this terrific interview. Coach Watts has been terrific to TKR, and always provides our correspondent with lengthy and informative interviews.