Just one day after landing 3-star guard Mac McClung, Steve Pikiell notched another victory in the recruiting column. 4-star guard Montez Mathis announced his commitment to Rutgers, capping off a long fought and well-earned recruiting effort from the program. Pikiell and his staff had been locked in on Mathis as far back as December, and their efforts culminated in another recruit added to their wealthy 2018 heap.
After initially announcing he would be committing on Friday, Mathis back tracked, citing the need to talk the decision over with his family. He clearly had a change of heart, though, and took to twitter to announce his commitment to the Scarlet Knights. Mathis chose Rutgers over Uconn, Pikiell’s former squad, and Virginia Tech.
The signing marks the highest rated prospect brought to Rutgers under the Pikiell regime, and the first top 100 prospect since Corey Sanders. Mathis joins McClung and 4-star forward Mamadou Doucoure to round out an increasingly impressive 2018 class.
Some thought the lack of a winning edge may have been too much for the Scarlet Knights to overcome. For Mathis, whatever struggles the Rutgers program have had are simply fuel for his competitive edge.
Coming into Rutgers, Mathis’ high school career has been marked with rise, fall, and re-emergence.
His freshman totals of 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game led to DMVelite Freshman of the Year honors and an invitation to 2015-16 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team.
From there, Mathis took his talents to the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, alma matter to Carmelo Anthony. The team dominated, finishing with a 45-1 record and a national championship. Mathis, though, was lost in the shuffle, putting up 4.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in limited minutes. The drop in production was accompanied by a drop in national attention.
But after returning to Maryland and lighting up the stat sheet, Mathis found himself back in the spotlight. The successful season bled into the summer, where he and top ranked back court running mate Immanuel Quickley had an impressive run with Team BBC on the Adidas gauntlet.
Mathis can score from anywhere on the court. At 6-foot-4, he possesses the height to shoot over smaller guards, and employs the ability to create space off the bounce. With a smooth three, the shooting guard has the outside shot that typifies a top flight, front court offensive skill set. When his shot is over pursued by the defense, he attacks the rim with a perfect marriage of athleticism and tenacity.
What sets him apart, though, is his physicality and nose for loose balls, turning Mathis into a highly effective rebounder. As lineups shrink, the ability to gather boards from traditionally non-rebounding positions has become increasingly important.
Mathis’ commitment is a tremendous sign of hope for a Rutgers program that hasn’t had much in quite some time. He perfectly embodies the effort and desire Pikiell has preached and shaped the program towards. Regardless of what may happen next season, the Scarlet Knights look to be set up for the future.