Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 | 8 p.m.
- Fourth meeting between Findlay Prep, Bishop Gorman set for Jan. 21 (8-23-2011)
- Katin Reinhardt commits to UNLV, making major statement for Dave Rice and staff (8-11-2011)
- A Day in the Life: On the recruiting trail with UNLV coach Dave Rice (7-26-2011)
- Emerging Canadian big man Matt Willms likes what he sees in Las Vegas and UNLV (7-23-2011)
- Baltimore PG Daquan Cook becomes UNLV’s first 2012 hoops commit (7-21-2011)
When UNLV first began recruiting 7-foot Canadian center Matt Willms in early July, he was about as under the radar as a 7-footer could possibly be.
Dave Rice and his staff were made aware of the big left-hander through a connection with Tyrone Lofton — his coach on the AAU circuit with the Detroit Stars.
As July wore on, as expected, more schools from every corner of the country began to take notice of Willms, who has a nice touch inside and a natural ability to run the floor. The more tournaments he played in around the country, the more eyes he caught.
This weekend, Willms arrived in the Henderson foothills, where he'll suit up for Findlay Prep as a senior. School began Monday on the Henderson International School campus, but for Willms, he's about to learn just as much on the floor every day in practice.
"I'm going to love playing against those guys," he said. "They're tall and strong. I'll get my toughness up and improve on my ability to rebound.
"I'm just going to have to open up more and get outside of myself."
Willms is still raw, having just picked up basketball a few years ago following a rapid 13-inch growth spurt. But several college coaching staffs easily salivate over the thought of what they could build with a player so young, so tall and so coordinated physically.
Willms grew up in Leamington, Ontario, but moved roughly 30 miles across the Canadian border last season to get his first taste of hoops in the United States at Detroit's Consortium Prep. Now, the combination of Findlay Prep's loaded schedule and the amount of national exposure the program gets will push Willms into the spotlight even more. Also, expect him to grow physically within Findlay's disciplined weights program. He checked in this weekend at 205 pounds.
More scholarship offers should begin pouring in soon, including one potentially from UNLV. But right now, Marquette, Clemson, Nebraska and Minnesota are among the others pursuing Willms. Even though UNLV has not yet extended a formal offer, Willms readily admits that the Rebels' staff has shown heavy interest and has his attention. On top of the schools he's listed, there are several more from the Big Ten, Big East and ACC starting to nibble.
UNLV currently has three open scholarships in the 2012 class following commitments from Daquan Cook and Katin Reinhardt. Willms said that he will most likely be taking an official visit to campus at some point this fall.
"It's been crazy," Willms said of the rush of attention. "I'm still open to all of the schools. I haven't decided anything or told anyone anything."