What a summer for Emmitt Matthews Jr.
And what a past week. The 6-foot-7 wing from Wilson High School added scholarship offers from UConn, West Virginia and Georgetown in a span of four days.
He already had offers from Boston College, Boise State, LSU, Montana, Oregon State, Seton Hall, UW, WSU and Wichita State.
And maybe some more still to come.
“It feels good because I can say I’m from Tacoma and I’m doing this,” Matthews said. “I’ve been doubted my whole life. Now I’m finally getting this recognition from the East Coast and so many reaching out to me – it just feels good.”
He said he plans on narrowing his list in September before making a decision on where to commit.
In the meantime, Carl Howell might not want to unplug his phone from the charger.
Howell is the former Tacoma Community College coach and assistant at Eastern Washington University who has spent his summer coaching the Washington Supreme AAU team. Matthews is just one of the standout South Sound players on the team – including Lincoln’ s Trevante Anderson, Spanaway Lake’s Divante Moffitt and Timberline’s Erik Stevenson, who recently committed to Wichita State.
“This week I’ve gotten calls from Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Kevin Ollie (UConn), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown), Boston College, Seton Hall – it’s exciting,” Howell said.
This is a level of recruiting that hasn’t been seen for a Tacoma basketball player since Isaiah Thomas was at Curtis, Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley were at Bellarmine Prep or when Ahmaad Rorie and Treshaun Fletcher were at Lincoln.
So what’s made Matthews such an intriguing prospect?
Start with the 6-foot-7 frame. And he said he’s expanded his game, now focusing on being a shooting guard compared to the stretch forward he had been playing the past two years as a Wilson starter, including when he led the Rams to the Tacoma Dome in March. He said he’s worked on his ball-handling and improved his 3-point shot.
He averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds per game in the regular season last year and was selected to The News Tribune’s All-Area team.
Since then he’s spent just about every weekend traveling with his AAU team, including spending a second consecutive year at the Under Armour All-American Camp from July 18-21 in Philadelphia.
And it all paid off with scholarship offers continuing to pour in.
“There’s a point where you feel like you aren’t getting the looks you deserve,” Matthews said. “And that was really stressful for me. I was sitting there like, ‘Man, I’m working my tail off every game and I’m not getting the looks that I think I deserve.’ But you just have to keep playing.
“That’s where my dad (the former three-sport standout from Long Branch, New Jersey) gave me really good advice – you just keep playing every game. You never know who is watching.”
So to add offers from UConn, Georgetown and West Virginia?
“It meant a lot, especially coming from the East Coast,” Matthews said. “Kids from here never really get recruited from the East Coast. It’s crazy. I’m just trying to put the city on the map.”
Wilson coach Dave Alwert has had to mostly watch Matthews from afar this summer. But said he’s seen Matthews get tougher.
“He’s working his tail off,” Alwert said. “He gets up early every morning and goes through his routines. He’s not a gym rat anymore, he’s a gym technician.”
A gym technician?
“I feel like that’s accurate,” Matthews said. “A gym rat isn’t necessarily working out and getting better while you’re there. I feel like being a gym technician is about learning to perfect your craft while you’re there and I feel like I’ve expanded my game completely.”
Matthews is ranked No. 148 in the Rivals 2018 top 150 recruit rankings. The two players above him from Washington are USC commits Kevin Porter Jr. of Rainier Beach (38) and J’Raan Brooks of Garfield (72).
He said he’s received advice from Wilson-to-NFL products Desmond Trufant and Xavier Cooper and others on how to handle the recruiting process.
His biggest takeaway?
“That there’s always a target on your back – always some kid working to be better than you,” Matthews said.
“But this has just been really fun, especially learning more about some of these guys I’ve been able to play with and against. Like, Divante Moffitt is a character. He and me and Trevante Anderson – we’re all really close. So when we play each other we’ll all be friends. That was my favorite part about it – you take away a lot of friendships.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677