Q & A with Wildcat Men's Basketball Sophomore Aaron Matthews
By: Bob Weiseman, Villanova Media Relations
Q: It has been a while since you initially wanted to attend Villanova. You attended two years of Prep School prior to coming to the Main Line. What does it mean to you to final make it?
A: It took a long time for me to get here. Ever since I was a young kid, a teenager, I have watched Villanova basketball. My cousin (Delino Desheilds) was going to come to school here, so I had a connection with Villanova. What it has meant for me to get here was that it was a great accomplishment. I worked so hard to get here. It was a great accomplishment and a relief once I got here. I have been happy to be here since the first day I stepped foot on this campus.
Q: What is like now that you are here to finally play basketball on the collegiate level?
A: I didn't think I was going to be playing this much as a sophomore. When I came here I just wanted to get better as a player, I improved at a fast pace last year. I didn't play all that much, but I had some great moments. I have really enjoyed playing for coach Lappas. I really didn't ever think I would be in a position like this.
Q: Your cousin is Delino Desheilds. How much of an impact did he have on your decision to attend college at Villanova?
A: Well, we talked about schools a few times, but we never got into much detail about Villanova. I always knew he was going to come to school here. I never really mentioned anything to him about the fact that I was looking at Villanova. It was definitely a big factor, because he is just like the type of person I am. So, I figured if he was comfortable in coming here, then I would definitely be comfortable here.
Q: How much of influence did the coaching staff, especially Coach Joe Jones, have on getting you to attend Villanova?
A: Coach Jones and the whole coaching staff were great. They really keyed in on me and got me to come here. Coach Jones is a great guy. He was calling me up every chance he got. He really made me feel good and that I was wanted. Villanova was the main school that really went after me.
Q: You could say that you are fan favorite because of your flair on the court, particularly in your spectacular dunks. How do you feel about being perceived that way?
A: It is good. I really don't try to play to the crowd as much, but if it happens it happens. I have always been a pretty physical guy, always athletic and always dunking the ball. So, it is really nothing new to me. I am glad that the Villanova fans appreciate it and appreciate my play.
Q: Your sophomore class consists of four players who already have large and significant roles on this basketball team in Ricky Wright, Gary Buchanan, Andrew Sullivan and yourself. What do you see for your class in the upcoming years?
A: I think we are going to have some great moments this year and in the upcoming years. The four of us came in together. All of us went through our tough times, Gary not as much so, but I think we are the closest group because of that. We have an apartment together and we are constantly around each other. It is fun, because we can all play. As far as contributing goes, all of us do our part and try to keep Coach Lappas happy.
Q: You are extremely talented on the court. That success has to be traced back to your off the court preparation. What have you done here at Villanova to prepare and what have you done before you came to college?
A: The weight program here is great. Jeff Watson, our strength and conditioning coach, has been doing a great job. As far as getting here, I have always been pretty big. I really didn't lift too many weights before Villanova. I still worked hard basketball wise in toning my skills and trying to just get better in all aspects of basketball. I didn't start playing basketball until I was 13. It was a good thing that I was athletic, because it allowed me to overcome a lot of things.
Q: What are your expectations for the 2000-01 season as a team and for yourself personally?
A: First off, team wise we should be a pretty good team in the Big East. We should compete for the Big East regular season and the Big East tournament championship. My personal goals are to just win. The more we win the more my personal goals will fill out. I definitely want to be a part of an All-Big East team no matter if it is a first, second or third team. I just want to be a solid contributor throughout the year. I don't want to have the ups and downs like I did last year.
Q: What has Mike Bradley brought to this team as whole and what has he done for you?
A: Mike is obviously a great player. He is so talented that he amazes me sometimes. He is just so big, so strong and so athletic. I think that for the team it really opens things up, especially for Gary Buchanan and Jermaine Medley. They double down on Mike and he is such a good passer he just finds the open man. For me personally he really opens things up as well. It opens things up when they double Mike. All I have to do is cut to the basket. Mike gives me looks on the cut all the time. I scored against Fairfield twice on that type of play. Rebounding wise, he takes a lot of the load off of Brooks and myself because he is so physical and dominant under the glass.
Q: You have two tattoos on your arms, one on each. What is their significance to you?
A: This is my nickname, Gank (left arm). That is what my mom called me. I used to run around and get into the pots and pans, so she called me Gank. My grandmother, my uncle, and my aunt's initials are on my other arm (right arm). They passed away before I am came to school here, so they really didn't get a chance to see me play. Each of them was key in getting me into prep school. They helped to keep me focused on my goals and get me into sports. This is for them. It says one love on the bottom.
Q: It seems as if you are extremely close to your family. What kind of impact do they have on you? Also, did that effect your decision to come to Villanova, since you are from Delaware?
A: Family has been a big deal for me. I have the best family. They always come up to the games, 10 or 12 of them come to each game. They have taught me values and they constantly keep me going. They are the reason I am here. That was pretty much a big plus in my coming to Villanova. It is only an hour and forty-five minutes from Delaware. I went to prep school in Boston, so my family didn't have much of a chance to see me play in high school. So, I wanted them to be able to see me sometime during my career. I wanted to give them a chance to see me play at the collegiate level.
Q: What other schools were you recruited by?
A: Cincinnati, UNLV, Rutgers, Rhode Island and the list goes on and on. These were pretty much the schools I had narrowed it down too.
Q: With such high profile national exposure out of Prep School and your recent success at the collegiate ranks, have you thought about the NBA?
A: That is down the line hopefully. It is a dream of mine as it is for anybody. Is it far-fetched? I don't think so. If I work hard, I can achieve it. I am in no rush to leave college, so it will all be in due time.