Hartland High School senior Matt Poches hopes to one day play professional basketball and he officially took a big jump toward that goal Wednesday, signing to play next fall for Oakland University in Rochester.
The latest step in the journey comes as no surprise to family who gathered with friends and head basketball coach Frank Leppek in the high school media center.
"Matt's first word was ball, not mom, but ball," said Kim, his mother.
"He is always the last one to leave the gym," his sister Christina said.
"Matt always played at a level above what he thought he could making him strive to be better," said Marty, his dad.
Poches — who verbally committed to play for the Grizzlies in the spring — was recruited by larger schools but chose Oakland to stay close to home. He plans to study business.
Poches, a standout guard since he was a freshman for the Eagles, honed many of his skills while playing for the Michigan Mustangs, a Flint-based AAU travel team, for the past eight years. His goal after college is to play in Europe, preferably in Spain or Turkey. To focus on basketball, Poches decided not to play football this fall.
Not only does Poches have great basketball skills, but he also carries a 3.63 grade-point-average. "Grades were very important to us and in order to play he had to keep them up," Kim said.
Poches credits Coach Leppek in providing him lessons in leadership and hard work.
Leppek said Poches' work ethic "is a tribute to the coaching staff from even the beginner levels of the basketball program in the Hartland athletics."