The name Matt Lottich resonates with anyone who has followed Chicago area prep sports, especially basketball, over the past two decades. Valparaiso and head basketball coach Bryce Drew hope to take advantage of that.
Lottich, a New Trier graduate and one of the elite athletes to ever come out of Illinois, has been hired as an assistant basketball coach at Valparaiso.
The hiring came out of nowhere. For one, Lottich has no college coaching experience. Plus, he wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to get into the college game.
"I was always a little reluctant to get into college coaching," said Lottich, who put together and ran youth basketball camps in California and Illinois over the years.
But he also knew there was a specific draw for him that would peek his interest in college coaching. That draw was working under the right head coach, which Lottich believes he found in Drew.
"The one thing I always wanted if an opportunity came about was to work under a head coach I really believed in and wanted to work under," says Lottich. "I thought I would really love working in college basketball if I truly believed in the head coach. So many people I spoke with had such great things to say about coach Drew."
Lottich was also intrigued with Valparaiso and all it has to offer athletically and academically. He says he likes the fact Valpo "attracts athletes that care a lot about academics."
"There are a lot of similarities here at Valparaiso to where I went and played," says Lottich of his four years at Stanford. "They believe five guys are stronger than one. They want to play basketball the right way and character and academics are important."
Lottich played nine years of professional basketball overseas with one-year stops in New Zealand and Germany, along with seven seasons in Japan. He was a part of some great Stanford teams from 2001-2004. During his senior year he averaged over 12 points a game for a Cardinal team that reached No. 1 in the country and finished 30-2 on the season.
Locally, though, Lottich will be remembered for putting together one of the more memorable athletic careers in state history.
The all-state basketball player averaged 24 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists a game as a senior, leading New Trier to the Elite Eight in 2000. He remains the all-time leading scorer in New Trier history.
As a junior he led the New Trier baseball team to a state runner-up finish, going 13-1 with 2.46 ERA on the mound. Then as a senior he batted .480 on the year and led the Trevians to a state championship.
He was also a two-year starter at quarterback, throwing for 2,000-plus yards, 20 touchdowns and completing 60 percent of his passes during his senior year in leading New Trier to a Central Suburban League South title and the state playoffs.
While the Lottich name and reputation will only help in a state Valpo has recruited very hard and successfully, he will fit in well on a staff that includes his former high school AAU teammate and friend, former Joliet Twp. and University of Illinois star Roger Powell. Plus, Lottich will bring a competitive spirit, energy and intensity to the program.
"I've learned a lot in my experiences playing for great and different coaches," says Lottich. "I'm just really excited to be at Valpo and for this opportunity."
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