With Gonzaga emerging as a huge presence in International recruiting, it's becoming more imperative that we keep our ears tuned into the European basketball scene. While Rivals and Scout provide us with consistent updates on a majority of the recruits in this country, the talent in Europe is often more difficult to monitor and follow. As was the case in 2009 with Elias Harris, Gonzaga is turning to Europe in 2010 with the hopes of building the program for the future.
Mathis Keita is one of two European recruits expected on campus at the end of August (Mathis Monninghoff being the other). Keita, who has made his name playing for the INSEP program in France, is an incredibly athletic and talented combo guard. However, with so little information known about Keita and his recruitment with Gonzaga, we decided to have our correspondent turn to the source in order to learn more about the process that will see him leave France and head to Spokane.
Slipper Still Fits: How would you describe your game on the court? What position are you most comfortable playing, and what type of role do you think you can have on the team this season?
Mathis Keita: I'm an aggressive player. I really like to play fast, but on the court I try to be as complete as possible whether on defense or on offense. I think I really can play both positions, but I'm a little bit more comfortable when I play point guard. I don't know what role I could hold this season, but I will try to get better as soon as possible to help the team to win.
Slipper Still Fits: How did your recruitment and commitment to Gonzaga occur? When did the coaching staff start contacting you, and how did they find out about you? Were there any other NCAA schools recruiting you before you decided to commit to Gonzaga?
Mathis Keita: Actually, I really wanted to play in the NCAA, but only if I found a good opportunity, because I could also stay in France, but it was not my priority. Tommy Lloyd contacted me after the Albert Schweitzer tournament in May with Team France. After that he organized a trip to come to see me in Paris. He had a meeting with me and my head coach that went well. Then, two weeks later, I signed a letter of intent. I had the choice between Louisiana Lafayette and Gonzaga.
Slipper Still Fits: You were able to take a visit to Gonzaga earlier this year. What did you think of the school and the coaching staff when you saw it in person?
Mathis Keita: When I visited, I felt everyone was very welcoming and I appreciated that. I already knew Tommy Lloyd because I spoke a lot with him for the admissions etc... I also met and spoke a little with the rest of the coaching staff and Mark Few and I had a very good feeling. I felt they really wanted to work with me.
Slipper Still Fits: What areas of your game are you looking to improve the most? What part of your game do you think is your best quality on the court?
Mathis Keita: I'm looking to improve my 3 point shot to make my game more complete. In my mind, my aggressiveness is my biggest quality, because I really like to drive to the basket to score or to pass the ball.
Slipper Still Fits: How much of an impact did the success of other European players like Ronny Turiaf and Elias Harris have on your decision to commit to Gonzaga?
Mathis Keita: That's true that Ronny influenced me, because he had a great career at Gonzaga. He told me only good thing about this place so it had a real impact on my decision.