SBN Wisconsin Hall of Fame Nomination #8: Wesley Matthews, Jr.

This is the third of ten posts revealing the ten Marquette nominees for the SBN Wisconsin Hall of Fame.  These are in no particular order, except for the particular order they're in.

On July 19, 2004, Wesley Matthews, Jr. committed to play for the Marquette Golden Eagles over his hometown University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers despite the fact that his father, nine-year NBA veteran Wes Matthews, Sr., and his mother, Pam Moore, both attended the University of Wisconsin (Wes, Sr. on a basketball scholarship, and Pam on a track and field scholarship).  It was another notch in the belt for then-head coach Tom Crean in the ongoing recruiting battle with the University of Wisconsin for the top in-state talent.

As a high school senior, Matthews averaged 22.5 points per game in leading his Madison Memorial team to a 24-2 record and the Wisconsin WIAA Division 1 state title.  For his effort, Matthews was named the 2005 Mr. Basketball in the State of Wisconsin.

Much more on Wes, after the jump.

Matthews was the third Top 100 prospect for the Marquette Golden Eagles 2005-06 recruiting class, joining Jerel McNeal and Dominic James in Marquette's first recruiting class as members of the Big East Conference.  The three would later become known as the "three amigos."

In his freshman year, Matthews started the first 13 non-conference games before suffering a stress fracture in his right foot in December, which caused him to miss the first part of the Big East conference season.  After returning from the injury, he came off the bench and had his best games against #9 Pittsburgh on February 8th, Providence on March 4th and Georgetown in the first round of the Big East tournament, scoring 13, 18, and 14 points respectively.  Overall for the season, Matthews averaged 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game in helping Marquette post a 20-11 record overall and a 10-6 conference record in Marquette's inaugural season in the Big East Conference, good for a tie for fourth and a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Matthews started all 34 games in his sophomore campaign and averaged 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.  For Matthews, the highlight of the season was his 20 point performance against Texas Tech in the CBE Classic semi-finals, which was won by the Golden Eagles after they defeated Duke in the Championship game.  The Golden Eagles secured their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance after finishing the season 24-10 overall and 10-6 in Big East Conference play.

In Matthews' junior season he was named a starter for all 35 games.  For the season, he averaged 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.  He became the 40th player in Marquette University history to score 1,000 career points in the March 14th game against Pittsburgh.  Marquette finished the year 25-10 overall and 11-7 in Big East Conference games.  The Golden Eagles reached the second round of the NCAA tournament and suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Stanford Cardinal, despite 14 points and 7 rebounds from Matthews.  Matthews earned All-Big East Third Team honors.

In Wesley Matthews' first three years at Marquette, he seemed to be happy playing second fiddle to the other amigos, James and McNeal, and did whatever needed to be done to help the team win.  However, all of that changed with the arrival of new head coach Buzz Williams.  The new offensive game plan provided Wesley with more opportunities to score and he took advantage.  In the non-conference season, he notched six (6) twenty point games, including a career high 30 points in a loss against Tennessee in the SEC/Big East Invitational.    He was named to the all tournament team of the Chicago Invitational for averaging 21 points and 7.3 rebounds in the tournament.  During the season, he became only the 22nd player in Marquette history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in a career.  Overall, he averaged 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.  He earned All-Big East Second Team honors and help lead Marquette to a 25-10 record overall and a 12-6 record in the Big East conference.    Matthews' solid play continued in his 4th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.  In the first round win he scored 11 points to go along with 8 rebounds.  In Matthews' final game as a Golden Eagle, a heart-breaking loss to Missouri, he scored 24 points and grabbed 7 rebounds and 2 steals.

Matthews finished his Marquette career 8th all-time in scoring with 1,673 points and was the all-time leader in free throws made with 549.  Despite going undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft, Matthews made the opening day roster of the Utah Jazz.  After initially coming off the bench, he broke into the Jazz starting line-up in February 2010 and started 48 games in his rookie season, averaging 9.4 points a game.  Known for his hustle, high basketball IQ, and stingy defense on the likes of Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, he turned up the intensity in the 2010 NBA Playoffs and started all 10 games for the Jazz, averaging 13.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.  A restricted free agent after the 2010 season, the Portland Trail Blazers signed Matthews to a 5 year $34 million dollar offer sheet which will make him the highest paid player from the 2009 draft class this upcoming season.  Not too bad for an undrafted kid from Wisconsin.

By all accounts Wesley Matthews is as great of a person off the court as he is on the court and is a great ambassador for Marquette University.  Therefore, I hereby nominate Wesley Matthews for the SBN Wisconsin Hall of Fame.

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