Former Auburn forward/center Matthew Atewe is transferring to Washington.
The redshirt freshman will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Atewe sat out the 2014-15 season due to a stress fracture in his left leg. The same injury forced him to miss the first five games of the 2013-14 season when he averaged 1.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 14.4 minutes in 24 games during his only year with the Tigers. He also had 26 blocks.
Here’s a transcript of an interview with Atewe.
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(What was it about Washington that made you choose the Huskies?) “Just from the coaches to the players to the city. I just felt really comfortable. And I also believe that I was able to spend the rest of my college career at Washington.”
(Can you describe your visit? What did you like and didn’t like?) “I don’t think I had anything that I disliked about it. Everything I really liked as far as the people that I met, the coaches and the players. There wasn’t any one thing that I just liked. It was kind of thing that I liked it so much I canceled the other visits that I set up.”
(So after Washington where were you going to visit?) “Probably Memphis and the last one probably would have been Oregon.”
(Was Washington your first visit?) “Yeah.”
(For folks who don’t know, how quickly does the transfer thing happen. When you decide to transfer, how does it work at that point? It it old high school coaches reaching out for you? Are you fielding calls or making calls? Is it like high school all over again?) “It was kind of different. I know just from going through high school it was kind of a lot more crazier in terms of recruitment. It was kind of crazy for me going through this whole transfer process. In terms of recruitment and what not, it was mostly had to do with getting the word out that I was leaving. Then going from there. Getting my release first and then being able to allow schools to contact me.”
(So the second time around, I’m assuming you’re a little more experienced. Did you have an idea of what you wanted and what you wanted to hear?) “Exactly. That’s exactly it. I felt like that’s the reason why I committed after visiting the UW. After seeing everything I knew this was the place that I wanted to be. And even before I visited I kind of knew or had a good idea that I was going to come there. I just needed to go through the visit and seeing the teammates and seeing the coaches face to face.”
(Three years ago was Washington on your radar?) “No not really. I was getting recruited by Kansas State, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Dayton, Nebraska, Memphis. Lots of schools. They might have, but I don’t really remember. I don’t think they did. There was like 40-50 offers.”
(Take me through the past two years. I know that’s a lot of time, but what has the past two years been like?) “Really up and down. In terms of my freshman year, I played hurt. That was pretty tough especially with the people that I knew and the people that I was close with. They were all trying to see what was going wrong or what was going on because I really didn’t look like my normal self – they way I used to look in high school and what not. That was kind of tough. But just being able to go through the whole experience, to kind of see that I’m physical and strong enough to play and hang with some of the best athletes in the country. That was a positive as well in terms of me playing and what not.”
(Do you remember when you got hurt and what happened?) “It was August 2013. So before my freshman season. I actually told my medical trainer, but I kind of just dismissed it because I didn’t think it was that serious. It ended up being a stress fracture. I sat out the first seven games of the year. Came back and then just played through the pain. Then after the season I had surgery. I kind of got rushed back to playing and what not. So I got hurt again in the exhibition game. Then I had to sit out the rest of the year.”
(Where was the stress fracture?) “In my tibia. My shin.”
(Right or left?) “Left one.”
(Had you ever felt anything like that before?) “Never in my life. That was crazy.”
(And it prevents you from doing what? Does it take away the strength from your leg or is it a pain issue?) “Kind of everything. I wasn’t able to score in the post unless I was hyped up or something It really prevented me from doing a lot of things like running the floor and what not. I remember there were times when I was limping across the floor because of the pain. At first it was just painful. Then it got to a point where it was painful and restricting. It really didn’t allow me to do much in my freshman year.”
(So how are you now?) “I’m doing great now. I’m able to job and I’m recovering. I feel no pain. I haven’t felt pain for the past two months or so. So that’s been a positive. I feel like next month I’ll be able to start running and sprinting full time. Just working my way up. Going through the whole process and working my way up.”
(For people who haven’t seen you play, what do you look like when you’re healthy?) “A pretty good player. Just someone who can bring a lot of toughness and kind of be a difference maker when it comes to protecting the rim and finishing on the block and around the rim.”
(Have you had discussions with the folks at Washington about what your role might be?) “Yeah just to kind of bring that leadership. I know we’re kind of young next year. So it will be good for me to bring some experience from playing in the SEC and playing in college in general. I know what it’s like to go through the practices and everything that goes on with being a college athlete – the highs and lows and what not.”
(How tall are you and what’s your weight?) “I’m 6-9 and 265.”
(I see you listed at 6-8.) “Yeah that was like two years ago. I grew an inch and kind of just lived in the weight room and gained a lot of weight.”
(I would say so. I see you listed at 230.) “Yeah that was like June 2013.”
(Is your playing weight 265 or 230?) “Before I got hurt I was 257. So that’s kind of my playing weight.”
(When do you get to Washington?) “In June for both summer sessions.”
(In terms of Washington, which has lost three players in recent weeks, what’s your perception of the Huskies?) “I haven’t heard anything negative. It’s just been positive. Just that things need to be turned around. I feel like it’s going in the right direction. And kind of watching from last season, certain things didn’t happen. I think his name is (Robert) Upshaw. Him not getting hurt or not being dismissed. They would have obviously been a NCAA tournament team. I think it’s heading in the right direction and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
(Why didn’t things work out for you at Auburn?) “There was a coaching change and just with a lot of the things going on in terms of the injury and the coaching change I really connected with coach Tony Barbee and his staff. I felt like they had the right vision for me. And once that changed, I kind of gave it a chance for a year. But the I just felt like I needed a new start.”
(How do think you’ll handle sitting out for two years?) “It’s fine. I work hard so it’s not really something that I’m totally worried about. I just know that I can’t really control that. I just know that I have to be ready the next time I’m able to play.”