The spate of newcomers joining the Washington men’s basketball team and good vibes stemming from Montlake were interrupted Monday when senior forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal.
Losing Matthews, UW’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, is a significant blow for the Huskies.
The 6-foot-7 wing, who starred at Tacoma’s Woodrow Wilson High, played three years at West Virginia before transferring to Washington.
Returning home seemingly rejuvenated Matthews, who posted career highs in scoring (11.7 points), rebounds (4.7), minutes (32.0), field-goal percentage (43.4%) and three-point percentage (33.6%) last season with the Huskies.
“The main thing for me was to find myself again,” Matthews said in January. “Being away for three years, I think what I lost (was) just not knowing how to play basketball. I kind of (lost) myself and the confidence, just being away from home and not seeing my family for so long.
“Then coming home to that, just kind of helped me get back to being myself and being more confident. I just wanted to do something big for the city and that pretty much is handling itself right now.”
Matthews had some of his best moments during a season-high 25-point performance on 9-for-13 shooting, which was one of many highlights in Washington’s 78-67 win against rival Oregon at Alaska Airlines Arena on March 3.
“Emmitt was spectacular, but then that’s what he does,” UW coach Mike Hopkins said after the game. “He’s long. He’s rangy. He can get out on the break and finish. … He’s one of the emotional leaders of this team.”
The Huskies were hoping Matthews would take advantage of an extra year granted by the NCAA due to the pandemic and return next year to lead a UW team that finished 17-15 and tied for fifth in the Pac-12.
When asked about his future during the final days of the season, Matthews was unsure if he would play college basketball anymore.
“That’s a big decision,” he said. “Obviously, I’ll think about it when the time is right. Talk with the family and then go wherever God leads me.”
Matthews is the third player to leave UW, joining junior center Nate Roberts who turned pro and transfer Dominiq Penn.
Without Matthews, the Huskies’ leading returning scorers are junior guards PJ Fuller and Cole Bajema, who averaged 7.4 and 5.4 points, respectively.
Senior guard Jamal Bey, who tallied 9.4 points per game last season, has not announced whether he plans to return for a fifth year with the Huskies.
A few weeks ago, Washington signed Noah Williams, who transferred from Washington State, and Garfield High standout Koren Johnson.
Currently, the Huskies have nine players projected for the 2022-23 roster and four scholarships available.
UW has reportedly targeted Utah Valley center Fardaws Aimaq and West Virginia forward Isaiah Cottrell.