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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Player Preview: Charles Matthews

The freshman's under-the-radar status, raw but undeniable talent, and projection as a multi-year college player will likely make him a Calipari-era fan favorite.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

#4 Charles Matthews (SG)

Height: 6'6''

Weight: 189 pounds

High School: St. Rita (Chicago, IL)

Recruiting Services: Consensus 4* (ESPN: #42 overall, #13 SG; Rivals: #48; 247Sports: #59, #16; Scout: #80, #23)

Twitter: @_JustCharles_


The terms "underrated" and "overrated" have become ubiquitous in the world of sports analysis, nearly to the point of becoming meaningless cliche.  As such, I rarely utilize either designation; however, I am an ardent believer that Matthews is the epitome of "underrated."

Having committed what seems like several seasons ago -- it was actually February of 2014 -- Matthews has seemingly gotten lost in the Kentucky recruiting hype.  Further, the recruiting services have been unsettled in their evaluation of him, to say the least.  Many non-UK fans forget that Matthews was a top 15 consensus 5* when he committed.  He subsequently dropped to a top 50-60 4* around the time he signed his LOI (November of 2014) due to a number of circumstances, one of which was a flurry of injuries.  He was not selected as a McDonald's All-American, though he was invited to one of the more prominent high school all-star games, the Jordan Brand Classic.  The box score reflects what was mostly an unexceptional performance in the game.

Nevertheless, Matthews undoubtedly has the tools -- both innate and skill-wise -- to prove the recruiting services wrong.

The most striking thing about Matthews is his athleticism.  As far as basketball goes, Matthews is above-average in almost every area of the game, but distinguished in none at this point.  Generally, he is more advanced on the defensive end and his early contributions project to be there.  He will rely on his remarkable athleticism and willingness to crash the basket and play above the rim to assist offensively while he hones his shot and the rest of his offensive repertoire, including his handle.  Matthews needs to improve his jumper, especially from the perimeter, and gain some weight (muscle) in order to blossom into the effective two-way player that I believe he can be.

Matthews also benefits from optimal height and measurables for a SG.  At 6'6'', Matthews is on the high end height-wise, even among NBA SGs.  At the 2014 USA Junior National Team Mini Camp, Matthews had a 6'8.5'' wingspan and 8'6.5'' standing reach, making him nearly identical to Devin Booker in these measurables.

No comparison is completely on-point, but as an incoming freshman, Matthews is somewhat reminiscent of KU alum Ben McLemore when he arrived in Lawrence.  Though McLemore, another undervalued 4* SG, was a more polished shooter coming into college, he displayed a raw "jack of all trades, master of none" skillset, just as Matthews currently does. The pair is also comparable with respect to their size and level of athleticism.

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