Charles Matthews, a five-star shooting guard from Chicago St. Rita, has become Kentucky’s first pledge in the Class of 2015.
The 6-foot-6 Matthews chose the Wildcats over Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State and Marquette after Kentucky coach John Calipari attended St. Rita practice on Monday. He is ranked No. 14 by Scout.com in the Class of 2015.
“I had a good gut feeling since the first day I went there,” he said at a press conference at St. Rita after slipping on a black and blue UK hat. “I felt it was kind of pointless just for me to be beating around the bush with these other coaches. Now I can really focus on improving my game and helping my team win.”
He added: “I just felt comfortable with the coaching staff. I think I got a good chance to get better and win and hopefully make it to the NBA afterwards.”
Matthews said the Calipari visit didn’t necessarily trigger his commitment, though.
“We didn’t even talk about me committing,” he said. “He was just really here just [to] let me know, ‘Keep playing hard and continue to get better.’ Really just support me coming up here. But committing wasn’t even part of the talk. I just felt that that’s the place I wanted to be.”
Calipari has previously landed commitments from Derrick Rose (while at Memphis), Anthony Davis and Tyler Ulis out of the Chicago Meanstreets AAU program in past years.
“Yeah, I spoke to Tyler,” Matthews said. “That’s my man so we talk a lot, but I committed basically because [my brother] Dominique told me, ‘There’s not even no point in just keep on waiting around. Just go in there and get it done.'”
He added it would be a “lot of fun” to play with Ulis at Kentucky. Ulis is expected to stay on campus for several years.
“We had a lot of fun this recent summer with Meanstreets, so I’m looking forward to continuing that,” he said.
St. Rita head coach Gary DeCesare also has ties to Kentucky, having coached Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua and his brother Oliver Antigua at St. Raymond’s in The Bronx.
“Charles has great versatility,” DeCesare told SNY.tv. “He has been able to play every position on the floor for me. He’s a great student of the game. He wants to get better every day and does whatever it takes to win.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.