Recruit Interview: Daniel Willett
Daniel Willett is a defenseman from Bayville, NY. After playing 2 seasons for the Long Island Gulls, Willett spent last season playing in the New Jersey Rockets organization. He posted 26 points in 23 MET league games. His successful season earned him a scholarship to Northeastern and gave him the chance to play in the USHL when the Lincoln Stars selected him in the 2nd round of this year’s USHL Future Draft. Despite being just 16 years old, Willett was able to earn a spot on the team. He is both the youngest and smallest player on the roster for a talented Lincoln team. He has already moved out there to start school and prepare for the upcoming season. He will be joined by 2 other Northeastern recruits in Lincoln. Former New Jersey Rocket Zach Aston-Reese returns for his last season before heading to NU. Massachusetts product Ross Olsson will also be playing in Lincoln for what will be his first and only season with the Stars. Willett will most likely spend 2 years with the Stars before enrolling at Northeastern for the 2014-2015 season.
You verbally committed to Northeastern about a year ago and you became one of Coach Madigan’s first recruits. What was it about the school and the program that attracted you? What other schools were you considering?
I was really interested in the old rink, it has a lot of history, along with them being a top-notch Division 1 hockey school, I love the Boston area and I like the campus in the city but at the same time does not have the city feeling. I wasn’t considering any other schools at the time because Northeastern was one of the first schools to offer and I jumped on the great opportunity.
How would you describe yourself as a player?
I would describe myself as a quarterback on the ice. I love playing power play and being a small finesse defenseman that can be agile and be able to make a good first breakout pass. Although I am small, I love to play the body and have an edge to my game.
When Lincoln drafted you in this year’s USHL Futures Draft, did you have any idea that you would make the team this season?
I felt confident that if I could show my potential and work hard all season and put my time in training in the gym and on the ice, I felt that I would have a shot at making the team.
Once you made the team, was it tough to decide to leave home and go play in Lincoln? Were you considering playing anywhere else this season?
It was tough to leave my family and friends, I’ve been with them for so long, but I knew that if I wanted to get to the next level, the USHL is the place to go to prepare me for college and there’s no better place to play than Lincoln.
Did the fact that Lincoln features a couple of other players committed to Northeastern play into your decisions at all?
I do have friends on Lincoln committed to Northeastern and it is comforting and fun to know that I will be playing with some kids for multiple years from USHL to college.
What are you hoping to improve on this season? What are you hoping to accomplish or prove?
I am hoping to adjust to the game quick, keep making my feet quicker and growing stronger to make up for my lack of height. I want to prove that you don’t have to be a 6′+ defenseman to be an impact in this game.
You are slated to attend Northeastern in the fall of 2014. Is that still the plan?
Yes that has been the plan so far and I hope to continue to improve and come in as a true freshman ready to go as a Husky.
What will you miss most about playing with the New Jersey Rockets organization?
I will miss the great coaching and the great group of kids and staff that made me a better player over the last season. Their off ice training and practices are top notch and I couldn’t have asked for a more fun-filled memorable year.
We’d like to thank Dan for taking the time to talk to us and answer our questions and wish him good luck for the upcoming season. You can follow him on twitter @Lincolnstar4. And for coverage of the Lincoln Stars, be sure to follow @blackblueblog.