It’s exactly 3,000 miles from Tacoma, Washington to Storrs, Connecticut. But that’s the trip Emmitt Matthews, Jr. will make when he begins his college career next season. The class of 2018 wing pledged to the Huskies Saturday night while on an official visit. At six feet, seven inches, the versatile Matthews, Jr. has a reputation as a lockdown defender and deadeye shooter. Getting the early commitment will likely prove to be a boon for the Huskies, as the current three-star is primed for a major jump in rankings after his growth spurt and strong summer on the Under Armour circuit.
Coach Raphael Chillious has a knack for identifying under-the-radar prospects right before they blow up. This commitment has his fingerprints all over it. He is best known for identifying and recruiting Markelle Fultz while the number one pick was playing JV ball during his tenure at Washington. It appears he’s found another diamond in the rough, as Matthews, Jr. has competent guard skills in the body of a developed wing. UConn will be able to deploy Matthews, Jr. primarily at small forward, but he will also see minutes at shooting guard and is strong enough in the post to play the four for stretches. His versatility fits perfectly into the “positionless basketball” mantra of Coach Ollie.
Other schools the Huskies beat out included West Virginia, Georgetown, and Washington. His trip to Storrs was the first and only scheduled official visit. The Mountaineers were also expected to be strong contenders for the Wilson High School student, though they must now look in other directions.
Matthews, Jr. takes up the final available scholarship for the 2018-2019 season. He joins four-star guard James Akinjo, also of the west coast, in the Huskies’ recruiting class. However, there will likely be at least one more opening with Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier both prime candidates to turn professional next spring. Expect Coach Ollie and his staff to continue pursuing a big man to fit into next year’s team. Current targets include five-star Simi Shittu (Burlington, ONT, Canada/Vermont Academy) and underrated three-star Lukas Kisunas (Vilnius, Lithuania/Brewster Academy). This will allow the Huskies to begin focusing on 2019 recruits earlier than other schools.
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