UK Men's Basketball

Kentucky basketball freshman Charles Matthews to transfer

Kentucky guard Charles Matthews, left, talks with guard Jamal Murray during a break in the first half. The University of Kentucky hosted the University of Georgia, Tuesday, Feb. 09, 2016 at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Kentucky guard Charles Matthews, left, talks with guard Jamal Murray during a break in the first half. The University of Kentucky hosted the University of Georgia, Tuesday, Feb. 09, 2016 at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Charles Matthews has decided to transfer, Kentucky announced Wednesday. UK did not put any restrictions on Matthews’ next college choice.

“I believe he is going to be a productive college player who has the ability to play at the next level,” UK Coach John Calipari said in a news release. “I know Charles’ best basketball is ahead of him, and while I’m saddened to see him go, I support his decision and will help in any way I can.”

Matthews was one of only four players to play in all 36 of Kentucky’s games this past season. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds.

“I want to thank the coaches, my teammates and the Big Blue Nation for all their support this season,” Matthews said in a news release. “I gained great experience during my freshman year at Kentucky. This was a difficult decision for me, but at the end of the day, I felt like it was in my best interest to explore other options.”

Matthews was the first player from the high school class of 2015 to commit to Kentucky. Then came such guards as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe, plus junior-college transfer Mychal Mulder.

If that prepared the ground for the subsequent decision to transfer, Matthews did not betray this feeling.

“It’s great,” Matthews said. “We get to compete, now. I get to train with them.”

Matthews followed such Chicago-area players as DeAndre Liggins, Anthony Davis and Tyler Ulis to UK. He was likened to Liggins as a role player who could provide defense. It was a comparison he embraced.

“I feel I’m a very great defensive player,” Matthews said before this past season began.

That was about the time that Calipari, too, spoke of Matthews as a defensive stopper in the mold of Liggins.

“That’s a pretty good comparison,” the UK coach said, “and DeAndre ended up being a pretty good scorer for us, too. But it took him time.”

While wishing Matthews well, Calipari lamented the loss of a player. But, he added, “transferring is a part of our game.”

Not counting the mass exodus of players in the spring that Calipari replaced Billy Gillispie as UK coach, Matthews is the fifth scholarship player to transfer from Kentucky since 2009. Others to depart in that time are Stacey Poole Jr., Kyle Wiltjer, Ryan Harrow and Darnell Dodson.

Kentucky has added five transfers in that same time. The five are Julius Mays, Twany Beckham, Eloy Vargas, Harrow and Dodson.

The Chicago Tribune published an article Wednesday about the large number of players who transfer. Sportswriter Teddy Greenstein cited ESPN.com’s current transfer list that has almost 1,000 names. The story also said that the NCAA estimates that two in five players are leaving before the end of their sophomore years.

Jerry Tipton: 859-231-3227, @JerryTipton

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