has played a solid supporting role for Marquette in his first three seasons, however he seems to be trying to break out to become more of a focal point player, leading the team in scoring with 19.6 points per game in the early going this season. The hard-nosed 65 swingman has certainly made his presence felt thus far this season, however its very important to consider the level of competition Marquette has faced, which, besides Wisconsin (where Matthews had his worst game), is nothing compared to what theyll see in the Big East, starting in a few weeks.
Playing alongside shot creators Jerel McNeal
and Dominic James
, Matthews does most of his damage playing off his teammates, making quick cuts to the basket, leaking out in transition, attacking the boards, and also hitting the rare spot-up three or taking his man off the dribble himself. His best attribute on the offensive end is his ability to get to the rim and draw contact, evidenced by the fact that he has 79 free throw attempts this season on just 104 field goal attempts, a remarkable ratio ranking him top-10 in that category in our entire college database. While this number is obviously elevated from a small sample size and weaker competition, his ratio from last season would have also put him in the top 30.
Attacking the rim, Matthews shows good body control and the ability to adjust with the ball, getting around defenders or just going straight into them to get to the line, taking full advantage of his pro body and excellent length. However, he doesnt have amazing vertical explosiveness, which stops him from being a great finisher, as he often has trouble getting good separation in the lane, leading to some tough shot attempts.
Matthews shows flashes of dribble-drive abilities as well, showing a good first step, excellent strength, and pretty good change of direction ability when he pulls out the rare crossover or spin move. Unfortunately he possesses just average ball-handling skills in close quarters, which hampers him from fully taking advantage of his ability in this area. He does most of his damage around the rim by cutting off the ball or catching with his man rotating over, giving him a half-step start, and not taking more than one or two dribbles to get to the basket.
Matthews makes his presence felt doing a lot of the little things as well, moving off the ball, making smart passes, leaking out in transition, and pursuing hard against players much larger than himself on the offensive glass. He plays with a reckless abandon that has become a trademark of Marquette basketball as of latefor better or worseand his toughness is sure to draw fans amongst professional talent evaluators.
One area Matthews could definitely stand to improve offensively is his jump shot, specifically from three point range. Between this season and the previous two, Matthews has taken 2-3 three-point attempts per game, but his percentage has never risen above 31%, and has started off at 30% this year. While hes shooting an outstanding 87% from the free-throw line this year, his success clearly hasnt translated to long range yet, and his shot mechanics could use some work. He gets very little elevation on his shots, being an inch or two away from shooting flat footed at times, and he also has tendencies to fade away unnecessarily, while his arm often drifts to the right as well. Adding a more dangerous spot-up three-point shot to his arsenal will be crucial for his future success, be it in the NBA or more likely overseas.
Defensively, Matthews excels, showing excellent lateral quickness and length, assets he uses well by never giving up easy shots, staying in a low stance, and playing aggressive defense on his man. He closes out well on shots, keeps his hands up around the basket, sticks with his man on drives, and always shows great toughness and effort on this end of the floor.
Looking forward, Matthews appears to be an ideal candidate for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where he could look to stand out in front of NBA decision-makers. Hell need to maintain his current production to really build some draft buzz, though, as in terms of skills and overall polish, he doesnt have one standout quality that he really excels with, something NBA scouts and executives usually look for in the later stages of the draft.