Q & A With Assistant Coach Sunny Smallwood

Nov. 3, 2000

Q: How do you go about the recruiting process and when do you start to look at a player?A: 'The youngest player I've ever put on a recruiting list was seventh grade. When you identify a person to put on your list, the first thing you notice is their athleticism. The athleticism for us, determines their potential for the future. The next thing we look at is their skill, and then finally we start talking to their coaches and the people around them to see what kind of people and students they are. From those conversations we decide whether to pursue them or not.'

Q: How do you find a 'hidden gem,' such as Loree Payne?A: 'I think there are a couple different ways. First of all, Loree was First-Team All-State since she was a freshman and Montana's Gatorade Player of the Year. You see her and you keep track of what she is doing through USA Today and other outlets. We had people from that area write us about her and she also did some traveling with her high school team to the places where we were during the summer.'

Q: For you personally, do you get burned out by recruiting all summer?A: 'As odd as it seems, I really enjoy it. Yes, it's intense, and yes, it is hard. The hardest part is not having a normal, sturctured life because it is changing all the time. Trying to stay fit, eat right, and maintain a normal sleep pattern, which does not happen, is what makes it difficult. But I really enjoy the time when I am gone the entire month of July to just completely delve into recruiting. That is what your main focus is and you don't have to think about anything else. We accomplish a lot during that time.'

Q: What role do the current team members play in recruiting?A: 'They are under the same NCAA rules that the coaches are. When we do official visits on campus, they host the players and spend the majority of the time with the potential recruits. They take a tremendous amount of pride in recruiting because they know what type of team they want as people, as players, and they work very hard at it. I give them a lot of credit because they do an awesome job.'

Q: Talk about coming back to the brand new arena.A: 'There is a lot to be excited about for this year. We left the building last year and went on this crazy schedule. The team had a lockerroom but it wasn't the same because it wasn't their own. Just the fact that we will be back in our own building and it is ours is a great feeling. We have got a great team returning and it is very exciting. I am glad that they held the tradition of the old building because it is amazing on the inside.'

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