UK commitment Matthews drops in prep rankings

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2014 

When Charles Matthews committed to play basketball for the University of Kentucky back in February, he was considered one of the top 25 players in the class of 2015 by every major recruiting service.

Fast forward to late June, and nobody has Matthews ranked that high.

The 6-foot-5 combo guard from Chicago has had some injuries and missed some games, but that's not why he's dropped in the rankings.

National recruiting analysts simply haven't seen the kind of progression that was expected.

Matthews is now ranked no higher than No. 29 (by Rivals.com) and as low as No. 52 (by 247Sports).

He's still a high-level prospect, but he has a lot of work to do to get back to five-star status.

247Sports national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer sees an athletic, hard-working player that will require a lot of fine-tuning before he's ready for the next level.

"His skill game needs a lot of work — ball handling, passing, shooting, and then the decision-making to put it all together," Meyer told the Herald-Leader. "I mean, I can see him — over time — thriving at Kentucky, because I get the sense he's coachable and he'll work hard.

"I think he'll get on the court because he'll defend and he'll do what he's told. And then it'll be a matter of seeing how he develops."

It's going to take some time.

Matthews has acknowledged that he needs to work on his jump shot before he gets to UK. Meyer — a former college point guard and assistant coach at Vanderbilt — said shooting is a skill that can improve over time, and Matthews has already developed a reputation as a hard worker who will listen to instruction.

The bigger concern is his "feel" for the game.

Meyer compared him to UK junior forward Alex Poythress in that area: "A guy that kind of fades out mentally at times and shows you flashes of skills, but doesn't consistently put it together."

When Matthews doesn't have to think about making a play — taking his man one-on-one to the basket, for instance — he's just fine. "If the situation gets complex and slows down, then he's not so good," Meyer said.

When asked how tough it is to improve the "basketball IQ" of a player, Meyer was quick with his reply.

"It's probably impossible," he said.

That doesn't mean it won't all come together for the UK commitment.

He has plenty to work with, and his athleticism is his most impressive trait.

It allows him to get to the basket just about whenever he wants to, and — coupled with his length at the guard position — it gives him the potential to be an elite-level defender moving forward in his career.

"He's as athletic as anyone out here," Meyer said. "He has NBA athleticism. He has the tools to be an NBA defender. He can do some things because of his athleticism, but he doesn't really know how to play and he needs a lot of skill development as far as putting that together.

"But if he can cut down on the turnovers, play to his strengths and learn to fit in to a structured style of play, it could happen."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216Twitter: @NextCatsBlog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com

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