Matt Vest is a 24 year old 195cm guard from Kettering, Ohio playing his third professional season and second with the Uni Baskets Paderborn (Germany-ProA): Last season with the Uni Baskets Paderborn (Germany-ProA), he played 22 games averaging 9.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 29.0%, FT: 60.5%. As a rookie in 2014, he played with BiG Oettinger Rockets Gotha (Germany-ProA): 38 games: 6.2ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 27.4%, FT: 67.6%. 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 after the 82-72 win against the Dresden Titans.
Matt tanks for talking to German Hoops. Time really flies, it has been more than two and a half years ago since I gave you a welcome to Germany interview when you signed with Gotha. Is playing basketball overseas and the lifestyle what you thought it would be when you came over in the summer of 2014?
Living and playing in Germany the last two and a half years has been an absolute blessing. I have met some life-long friends and mentors here, and it has become a second home for me. It has been all I could’ve imagined and more.
Congrats on the 82-72 win against the Dresden Titans. Did this game prove despite that team having only one win, that if you don´t play for 40 minutes that you can lose to any team?
There is never an easy win in this league, period. The balance and competitiveness in the Pro A is unlike any league I’ve seen.
Dresden played very well for 25 minutes, but then gave up a 14-3 run in the third quarter letting Paderborn back into the game which gave the momentum to you. What was key for making this turn around in the game which led you on to winning the game?
The key for us in the third quarter was all about the defensive end. We stepped up our activity level and were able to put Dresden in some uncomfortable situations. Our defense is always the key to our offense because when we get stops we are able to play at a higher pace.
How crucial were the back to back three´s by Chase Adams and you in the fourth quarter and bucket from German Til Glogger which sealed the win for you?
That was a critical stretch for us, which really busted the game open. As simple as it seems, making shots is extremely important especially in the fourth quarter, and we definitely have guys who are comfortable taking shots in the big moments.
The Dresden Titans have had a terrible season, but are a lot better than their record shows. Are they just a perfect example of a team that has talent, but just can´t round out wins this season?
Dresden is much better than their record indicates, but sometimes things can snowball on you in a league as competitive as this one. Both of our games against Dresden this year have been very close. I would not be surprised to see Dresden get a few more wins this year.
Paderborn is currently in 11th place, but only two points away from the last playoff place. Your teammate Chase Adams stated early on that this will be an unforgettable season. How confident are you that Paderborn will make the playoffs?
I’m extremely confident in our chances to make the playoffs because I think we have the roster to do it and with 8 games left we are still in control of our own destiny. I look forward to the challenge of going up against some of the very good teams who are just above us in the table.
Paderborn has a 3-4 record in the last seven games, but lost three close games to Heidelberg, Kirchheim and Trier combined by only 11 points difference. How much did those games hurt your standings position? They could be the difference at the end between making the playoffs and not.
Those were heartbreaking losses for us, but we understand this is a league of runs. There will be stretches of losing 3 out of 4 and there will be stretches of winning 3 out of 4. The most important thing is that we continue to keep ourselves in position to be right there come March.
Paderborn has been defending pretty well as of late. With the stretch run coming up in the regular season, what will be most vital to do well on the defensive end to reach the playoffs?
Defense is a huge key for us. Without getting too specific I think our focus must be on energy and activity on the defensive end. Playing extremely hard on defense has a way of covering up a lot of mistakes. When we are active, creating deflections, and getting steals we are a hard team to beat.
How much of a delight has it been playing with German Till Gloger. He is leading the team in scoring. How much did his NCAA experience benefit him and what do you appreciate most about his game?
Playing with Till has been great, he has been a huge part of our team’s success thus far. Till is a very unique player. What separates him from a lot of players is his ability to make shots at a high level. He is great finishing around the basket, in the mid-range, and is also a very good free throw shooter.
Your playing your second season with American Chase Adams with Paderborn. He is the leader of the team and playmaker. How much does a guy like him deserve to make the playoffs. Have you seen more of a hard nosed competitor than him in the Pro A?
It would be great to make the playoffs with a guy like Chase. He is such a competitor and we have become good friends over the last year and a half. I don’t think there is a guy better than Chase in our league at making a ball handler uncomfortable in the full court.
Your leading the team in rebounding and assists and second in scoring. How is Matt Vest the player different and better now than when he started as a rookie with Gotha?
I have improved in so many ways over the last few years thanks to some great coaches and people in my life. My offensive game has expanded quite a bit as I’ve improved my ability to create for others and myself. The biggest gains for me have come mentally. After playing overseas almost three years now I have been able to really improve some of my mental skills that have taken my game to another level.
You shot 43% as a senior at Wright State, but have shot a lot less as a professional, but have improved your outside shooting percentage each season. Are you still finding yourself as a shooter now as a professional?
Shooting is a skill that you can never stop working on. I definitely feel like my consistency from 3 has gotten better each year, and I know that is going to continue.
In our first interview, you stated that a hidden strength in your game is your defense. Do you feel as if your defense has been appreciated and noticed in Gotha and Paderborn?
I think that it has been. It was a big reason why I got opportunities to play in both Gotha and Paderborn, and it is always something that is important to me as a player. I am extremely grateful for the way I was taught the game by my dad, my high school coach Joe Staley, and my college coach Billy Donlon.
You have improved your scoring each season in the Pro A and continue to be an all-around player that fills up the stat sheet. Where do you see career going in the future. Many Pro A players have reached the EasyCredit BBL. Do you see yourself being able to make an impact at that level?
I certainly see myself as a BBL caliber player on both ends of the floor. It gets difficult at times, but I also try not to worry about things outside of my control. Most important thing is that I continue to grow and improve as a player and person each year, and I know that the career opportunities will follow. The thing I am most proud of about my career has been my ability to show improvement each year. If I continue to stay committed to my personal growth and keep adding and improvement elements of my game each year, I know that the sky is the limit for me.
In our first interview, you said this about your ex Wright State(NCAA) teammate Vaughn Duggins. “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”. Have you been able to catch some games of Vaughn being that Paderborn isn´t that far from Oldenburg and treated him for dinner?
Vaughn and I follow each other’s careers pretty closely and I was able to go visit him and watch him play earlier this year before his surgery. I was able to watch Oldenburg beat Goettingen at home and spend a day with Vaughn, his wife, and his son. Vaughn wouldn’t let me pay for anything when I visited, but we ordered pizza one night and he didn’t have any cash for a tip. All I had was a 20 euro bill. The pizza man got a nice tip that night.
Your ex head coach Chris Ensminger was recently let go by Gotha. Even though he was a center, how thankful are you for having him as head coach as a rookie and how was that big guy able to help a guard rookie the most with your game?
I will always be grateful for Chris Ensminger and Steve Esterkamp for giving me my first opportunity to play at the professional level. They taught me things that I will keep with me as long as I continue to play this game. It was unfortunate what happened to them in Gotha, but I know they both have very bright coaching futures ahead of them.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Jordan, Wilt, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird.
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
That title against Golden State really elevates Lebron as an all-time great. It is hard to say where he will end up because I still think he has 3-4 high level seasons left in him, but a top 5 player all time is definitely realistic.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
Kevin Garnett is a top 3 power forward ever and one of the fiercest competitors in the history of the NBA. KG was a guy that I loved watching as a kid, and I think I even had a Timberwolves jersey.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
60 points is a crazy game, but how he did it was amazing. He is a special player that fits perfectly within the Golden State system. Klay Thompson is someone I like to study because of how effective he is while also keeping it very simple.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
I think stat wise there is no arguing that Westbrook is at the top of league. He is a beast that cannot be stopped. His relentless mentality, mixed with his ridiculous athletic ability and skill set are a recipe for the types of numbers he is putting up this year.
Draymond Greene recently had a triple double without scoring 10 points or more. Why do you believe has it taken long for someone to do this?
Triple doubles without points are extremely unique because of how offensive-minded the NBA is. If anyone in the NBA could do it, I think Draymond Greene is the guy people would think of. Similar to Klay Thompson, Greene is a great example of a perfect fit in a system.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was actually an older movie recommended to me by a teammate of mine called Mystic River. Very good, and also on Netflix!
Thanks Matt for the chat.