As most already know, Tacoma native Emmitt Matthews Jr. came back home to play in front of family and friends after spending 3 years at West Virginia. Matthews was widely known as a defensive stopper at WVU but was also no stranger to scoring the ball when needed. His freshman year, Matthews went off for 28 points and 8 boards in a Big 12 Tourney victory over Texas Tech. Matthews also scored in double digits 30 times during his time at West Virginia but that wasn’t his main responsibility.
This season for the Washington Huskies, Emmitt Matthews has been an integral part of the rotation joining fellow Seattle Transfers in Terrell Brown Jr., Daejon Davis and PJ Fuller. On a team coming off a 5-21 record, more responsibility has been put on Emmitt Matthews shoulders and he has shown he can help carry the load, despite a slower start offensively while getting adjusted to the new team.
On a team desperately needing production outside of Terrell Brown, Emmitt Matthews has shown some marked improvement against better competition during Pac-12 play. Brown is the clear MVP so far but Matthews is a big part to UW’s 6-3 start in Pac-12 play so far.
In 9 Conferences Games, Matthews Is Averaging
- 12.3 PPG
- 5.1 RPG
- 45% FG
- 48.8% from Two-point FG’s
- 40.5% from 3 on 37 attempts (15/37)
- 77.4% from the Foul line (24/31)
In Matthew’s 10 non-conference games against much weaker competition, Mathews shot 38/101 from the field (37%) and 10/40 from 3 (25%). His biggest improvement may have come from the free throw line, which is usually a good sign for a shooter. Matthews shot 23/34 (67%) from the foul line in the non-conference and so far is shooting 24/31 from the line in conference play. Before the last two home games (Colorado/Utah), Matthews was shooting 81% from the line in Pac-12 games and had made 9 in a row as well as 22 of his last 24 free throws. In the win over Oregon State, Matthews went 7/7 from the line and barely touched the rim on any of them.
3-Point Shooting Has Heated Up
Emmitt Mathews was a 28% shooter from 3 at West Virginia but never averaged more than 2.4 attempts per game. His previous career high had been 22 made three pointers and Matthews has already surpassed that number with 25 makes this year, good for 1st on the team in 3-point makes this season.
As noted above, Matthews started off at a cool 25% (10/40) start from 3 going into the Arizona Wildcats game. During that Arizona game, Matthews went 4/6 from 3 and hit back to back 3’s late in the 2nd half to pull Washington within 5 points to the 24.5 point favorite Wildcats.
Since the Arizona game, Matthews has made it into a habit of hitting some big shots late in the game, including the recent game versus Colorado. Late in the 2nd half, Matthews hit two big 3’s to help the Huskies build an important 15 point lead with 8:27 left in the game and narrowly escaping with the win.
Washington is going to need Matthews’ outside shooting to continue to help open things up for Brown and other teammates.
Attacking The Rim
Not only has Matthews recent shooting helped open things up for others but also for himself. Earlier in the season it may have seemed like Matthews settled for a few too many jumpers but has since started to attack the rim more often.
Per Synergy, Matthews only had 5 dunks in his first 8 games as a Husky. Since then he has had 11 dunks in 11 games and leads the team with 16 dunks total. The next highest player is Nate Roberts with 8 dunks. Matthews also has 24 layups (2nd behind Terrell Brown) this season, which means 40 of his 74 Field Goals have come from within a few feet of the rim helping Washington get higher percentage shots, which the Huskies are in short supply of at times.
Rebounding Amongst The Trees
Emmitt Matthews has been asked to do a lot on defense, playing multiple positions and often finding himself guarding the opposing teams’ biggest player. Especially when Washington likes to go man to man on defense, Matthews is having to work extra hard to help on the boards. In the past two games versus Colorado and Utah, Matthews has finished with 11 and 10 rebounds respectively and 9 of those have been on the offensive end.
At West Virginia, Matthews lined up next to Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe, who were both rebounding monsters and Matthews was still able to get 4 rebounds per game there. There is still potential for Matthews to increase his rebounding averages but it would be a lot easier if he wasn’t the biggest player on the court for Washington. A lot of the time, Matthews is having to box out bigger players so his teammates can swoop in for the rebound.
So it should be no surprise that Nate Roberts has played 30 minutes in each of the last two games and has helped Matthews focus on attacking the glass more. When Roberts is able to stay in the game and be effective, it will only help Emmitt increase his numbers.
With 9 games left (possibly 10 or 11 with the Washington State and UCLA reschedules still pending), Emmitt Matthews needsto continue to improve his play even further if Washington hopes to compete for a top-4 finish in the conference. Even the notion that such a thing was possible seemed completely impossible just a few weeks ago but now isn’t all that crazy depending how the rest of the standings shake out.
It should also be noted that Emmitt Matthews is a 4th year Senior but has the option to return to Washington one more season if he should choose to do so. It has not been suggested either way what his choice will be but his return would be a big boost for the Huskies next season if it happens.