Transfers in college basketball are almost always tricky decisions. It takes quite a bit of confidence for a player to abandon a known commodity for something new. Sometimes transfers work out and many times they fail. And with the numbers rising, we’re even starting to see more players who end up transferring multiple times during their college careers.
But who player who clearly had it work out was Charles Matthews. After playing one season at Kentucky, Matthews had mixed production and appeared to be in the uncomfortable position of being replaced by incoming recruits. Matthews then decided to transfer to Michigan, where he helped the team make two Sweet 16s, a Final Four, and win the Big Ten Tournament.
Matthews now hopes to find success at the next level. A late injury, however, could set him back significantly. Let’s take a look at how things could progress.
The strength of Matthews’ game comes on the defensive end of the floor. He was arguably the best defender in the Big Ten last year and made a tremendous impact in helping Michigan put together two elite defensive units in his two seasons with the program. He has no trouble staying in front of opponents and using his hands to pressure the ball. This looks like something that should translate to the next level.
Matthews doesn’t have one other particular characteristic that stands out about his game, other than his defense. However, he has a nice combination. He could drive the ball, hit some shots from deep, and has a pretty solid mid-range game. Matthews was also a solid rebounder for his size.
The first concern for Matthews heading into this year’s NBA Draft will be his recent ACL injury. Smart money says this will make a lot of teams hold off on drafting or signing a guy who already projected to be a late second round pick. It doesn’t exactly make a ton of sense to take a risk on a guy who already needed to work to land a roster spot.
Matthews’ other major concern is his underwhelming shooting. He had moments where he was really shooting well, but his overall numbers aren’t particularly impressive. In a league where shooting is so crucial, it’s hard to have a ton of faith in a guy that topped out at 30.5 percent from three-point range. The same goes for the free throw line, where Matthews also struggled.
This is a pretty easy one to pick out for Matthews. He needs to go to a team that needs to add a wing defender. Teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Denver Nuggets look like potential fits. It’s also worth mentioning that any team in LeBron’s division could also have the need for a wing depth defender.
But the truth of the matter is that Matthews just needs a team to take a shot on him while he recovers from injury. He wasn’t a lock to make the league before the injury and things look even more dire now. Without the injury, he’d get at least a year or two to make his mark, but things could be a lot tougher now. Matthews has to hope somebody really believes in his defense and doesn’t have a huge need to play him early next season.
Matthews didn’t start his career in the Big Ten, but finished after two incredible years in Ann Arbor. He looked primed to make the NBA next year after some recent workouts, but now is in a tough spot with his recent injury. Expect Matthews to go undrafted and have to earn his way onto a roster late next season.