As West Virginia basketball head coach Bob Huggins met with the media last week, a tall and athletic Emmitt Matthews Jr. slid behind with a sense of swag and confidence that most failed to see last year.
The sophomore forward is stronger, longer, and even taller than what he was last year.
The Tacoma, Wash. native showed the world of college basketball how immense of a threat he could develop into during the final stretch of his freshman campaign, especially after he posted a career-high 28-points to lead WVU in their upset over Texas Tech last March.
Since that game, Matthews has significantly improved his overall game and frame.
“I’ve grown a little bit. I’ve gotten a little taller,” the sophomore forward said.
Since the off-season began, Matthews Jr. has gained 10-pounds, grown nearly 2-inches, and his shoe size increased from 13 to 14.
Then, Matthews said, “I’ve built my confidence back up to where it was prior to when I got here. I got here and tried to find a spot on the team. I was trying to learn and find my way. Now, I’m just playing and having fun.”
Along with building up his confidence, another issue that challenged Matthews was adjusting from high school to division one college basketball.
“The biggest adjustment from high school to college was the intensity of the game,” he said. “It’s a complete change, but now I’m used to it, and I’m ready to help contribute,” he added.
Huggins said that Matthews Jr. is WVU’s “most improved guy,” and that “he is more aggressive,” “he’s gotten stronger,” and “he really wants to be good.”
The sophomore forward said after his career-best game against Texas Tech, his inspiration to work harder and get better came about. Even his teammates have noticed his hunger.
Forward Derek Culver said, “Emmitt’s really worked hard and is starting to come into his own.”
Matthews Jr. has gotten much stronger, more athletic, and better since the off-season started. He’s more poised and hungry to get better as an individual and teammate, and his teammates and coaches can attest to that. As the regular season is just lurking around the corner, Matthews is certainly a player to be on the lookout for.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS