Emmitt Matthews Jr., who spent last season with the Washington men’s basketball team, will use his final season of eligibility to play at West Virginia where he spent three years before joining UW.
The 6-foot-7 senior forward who starred at Tacoma’s Wilson High had a breakout year at Washington where he averaged career highs in scoring (11.7 points), rebounding (4.7), blocks (0.5) and minutes (32.0).
Matthews also reached personal bests in field-goal shooting (43.4%) and three-point shooting (33.6%) while becoming the second-most productive player on a Husky team that vastly exceeded preseason predictions and finished 17-15, tied for fifth in the Pac-12.
The Huskies had hoped Matthews would take on more responsibilities next season and there were internal plans in the UW basketball offices to promote him as a preseason All-Pac-12 performer.
However, in February speculation began to grow that Matthews might not return to Washington and was considering not playing basketball anymore.
“That’s a big decision,” Matthews said at the time when asked about his future. “Obviously, I’ll think about it when the time is right. Talk with the family and then go wherever God leads me.”
The unpredictable aspects and expanding influence of the NCAA transfer portal, which included 1,601 transfers on Friday and will undoubtedly continue to grow, has irrevocably changed college basketball, for better or worse.
Not so long ago, the offseason was a time when college coaches hit the recruiting trail in search of standout prep prospects.
These days, transfers have taken precedence over the high schoolers and coaches are constantly replenishing depleted rosters with college players in search of a better opportunity somewhere else.
Meanwhile, college basketball fans suffer whiplash trying to keep up with the frequency of player movement that’s become akin to NBA free agency.
A year ago, Washington underwent a complete makeover in which five incoming transfers replaced six players who left via transfer.
This year, Matthews is the second Husky to transfer out of the program, and Washington is bringing in two transfers from Pac-12 rivals, including Washington State’s Noah Williams and Oregon’s Franck Kepnang.
Minutes before Matthews posted his announcement on his Twitter account, Utah Valley center Fardaws Aimaq, arguably the hottest transfer prospect in the portal, chose Texas Tech over Washington and Texas.
The Huskies are rumored to be in pursuit of Arizona transfer Shane Nowell, the former Eastside Catholic High standout and younger brother of ex-UW star Jaylen Nowell.
Washington is currently projected to have 11 players on the 2022-23 roster, two shy of the NCAA limit. A cursory look at the roster suggests UW is still in desperate need of a proven point guard with ball-handling skills and another big man for insurance purposes.
The Huskies have lost at least four starters and may need to replace its entire starting lineup if senior guard Jamal Bey chooses not to use an extra year and return to Montlake.