June 19, 2014

Charles Matthews speaks at NBPA Camp

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- On Thursday, Kentucky basketball commit Charles Matthews - the Wildcats' only committed player in the Class of 2015 - had his first chance to meet with the media at the NBPA Top 100 Camp on the Virginia campus.

In a wide-ranging interview with reporters, Matthews talked about his game, the 2014-15 Wildcats and who he'd like to see join him at UK in 2015-16. Here is the entire Q&A session with reporters. Note that as some reporters came and left the huddle around Matthews, some questions were asked more than once.

Q: Haven't talked to you in a while. What's been going on?
Charles Matthews: Basically just been taking time off. Because you know, I had injuries. But I'm getting back healthy now. So I'm getting back to myself. This is really my first time playing since the second session at EYBL. So it feels good to get out here.

Q: What are the injuries keeping you out?
Matthews: You know, I had a groin strain, groin pull. And then a re-occurring ankle problem. But I'm healthy now.

Q: Are you 100 percent for this (event)?
Matthews: Yeah, I'm right around 98. I'm getting there.

Q: The three-on-three thing with Team USA, what was that like?
Matthews: It was fun. That was actually, like, I just did, getting myself warmed back up, playing against other people. We won down there. It was a fun experience.

Q: You're the only one committed right now, have you been following who else Kentucky's looking at?
Matthews: I honestly don't even know who they really offered. But I had a couple people calling me about it. I'm trying to recruit a few people I know to come on over. So it's been fun so far.

Q: Anybody specific that's reached out to me?
Matthews: Cheick Diallo spoke to me about it. Carlton Bragg. They've been the main two I've been speaking to. They're talking to me about it, too.

Q: What do you say when they ask you about UK?
Matthews: Best school in the world. That's the truth. Basically just let them know what it has to offer. We have a great coaching staff. Great history there. My opinion, best fan base in the country. Just let them know it's a fun place to play at.

Q: What's changed for your since you committed? Has it been nice not to have to worry about college coaches calling you and all that?
Matthews: That does feel good. Now I'm able to work on progressing my game. Get better. Just continue to grow as a player and a person.

Q: Since you committed, Orlando left. I know you were pretty close to him. What was your relationship like with him, and what did you think about that?
Matthews: I had a good relationship with coach, but at the end of the day, I knew he had to do what was best for him. He was a great assistant coach there. I'm pretty sure he will do terrific things down at USF as a head coach.

Q: Did (John) Calipari call you to reassure you or anything like that?
Matthews: No, not really. I didn't really have a problem with it. At the end of the day, coach Cal's the head coach. I committed to Kentucky to play for Coach Calipari and not Coach Antigua. But he was a great addition to it. He'll be missed, but that fact didn't make me not want to go to Kentucky anymore.

Q: How often are you in contact with Coach Cal?
Matthews: I speak to him a lot. He really don't bug me too much, but he's always checking up on me. As well as Kenny Payne and coach Slice now. Just keeping in touch, touching base with me.

Q: What do you think of Slice (Rohrssen)?
Matthews: I haven't really gotten to know him yet. I just met him through text message. So, I'm waiting to get back down to campus to see how he is. I heard he's a great guy. I can't wait to meet him.

Q: Did you get nervous at all with the Calipari-to-the-Cavs rumors? Was that on your mind?
Matthews: (Laughs.) Tell me about it. You know, I heard so much rumors. I probably get asked that all the time. 'Are you leaving because Coach Calipari leaving?' I didn't get nervous because, you know, he's a great coach. I mean, I'm pretty sure he gets offers to leave the school every day. Until something was officially announced that he was leaving, I didn't really worry about it.

Q: What was your reaction to all the players coming back? We haven't talked to you since then.
Matthews: Oh, man. I was kind of wowed at first. Then I understand, probably when you get that close to achieving greatness like they did, the national tournament, they probably had that bitter taste in their mouth. So they wanted to go back and win it all. But I was surprised, but I think now practices will be more intense than the games. It's going to be a war zone in the practice. It will be fun to watch.

Q: You planning on going down for a visit?
Matthews: Yeah, I do. I was hoping to get down this month, but it's kind of jam-packed for me right now. I'm hoping August. And I know I'll be down for Big Blue Madness for sure.

Q: They generally try to get their elite recruits down there …
Matthews: Yeah, I'm going to take my official for that.

Q: … You think you're going to do some recruiting that weekend?
Matthews: Yeah, I definitely will. I'm just trying to see who I'm bringing down with me. There's going to be a couple of us down there.

Q: Carlton (Bragg( said he wanted to go, do you know anybody else?
Matthews: For that specific weekend? I haven't spoke to anybody about it. But who wouldn't? I haven't talked to nobody about it, but I'm pretty sure I will.

Q: Have you talked to Tyler Ulis recently?
Matthews: Yeah, I just spoke to Tyler. I see he's checked in there now. I touched base with (him).

Q: Did he say anything about what it's like?
Matthews: No, I didn't even get to asking him about it. Is everybody on campus? Or just the freshmen? (Everybody.) Oh, so I gotta ask him, then. Do college teams start practice yet? (They get an hour a day.) I got to ask him how it's going. Him and Booker. Those are the main two I've been talking to.

Q: Do you know if Tyler has an injury? There's a picture and he might have been in a walking boot.
Matthews: I haven't heard anything about it. Not that I know of.

Q: On some websites you've taken a drop in the ranking. Have you noticed that?
Matthews: No, I haven't even noticed. I mean, I haven't checked them out or anything. I know I haven't played in a while, so I don't take too much interest in the rankings anyway.

Q: Does that motivate you at all?
Matthews: I'm self-motivated. I have bigger goals past high school. I'm just trying to continue to develop as a player and grow as a person, and everything else will take care of itself.

Q: What do you want to work on specifically?
Matthews: Right now I feel I need to become a stronger player. I need to work on my strength. Especially the way I play, going to the basket a lot. I have to get stronger to be able to compete down there. I also want to be more of a consistent 3-point shooter. Not just midrange all the time.

Q: What does Calipari say you need to work on? Or what he likes about you?
Matthews: He says he likes how I get to the basket, that I can defend multiple positions. I can handle the ball and all, but he says the same thing I said. He wants me to work on my perimeter jump shot, because a lot of defenders sag off. So I need to knock down the three more.

Q: Will you sign in the fall when it's first available?
Matthews:Oh, yeah.

Q: Just an NLI?
Matthews: I don't even know. We haven't really talked about it.

Q: When are you taking an official?
Matthews: Big Blue Madness.

Q: Carlton said he's planning on going down?
Matthews: Oh, he did? That's good. That's what I want. I know I want Carlton there.

Q: What about Malik?
Matthews: Oh, Malik Newman? Yeah, that's my boy. I forgot all about Malik. I'm going to have to hit him up after I get done so I can see. I'll talk to him. But I've spoke to him about Kentucky before. He's really interested as well.

Q: What do you think about the guard situation at UK? Not many people think Tyler and Booker are going to be one-and-dones. Could there be too many guys?
Matthews: It's a competitive atmosphere. You know that going in to the program. You got to come and compete. It really gets you prepared for everything in life, because regardless of what you do, you're going to have to compete with others trying to do the same thing you're doing. But Cal does a great job managing egos. I feel that's the only program in the country where you can recruit all these top players and get them to come together in such a short span of time. But he gets it done. Playing with a bunch of other great players, I'm not worried about that.

Q: What did you think of how last year's team came together. Were you expecting that?
Matthews: Yeah. I never doubted them at all. Coach Cal's great at what he does. His staff is great. He gets his players to buy in. He doesn't hide them from competition. They played a lot of great players early in the season. So every time during the tournament he makes a run. He did it every year except for the team with Nerlens. That probably was the less accomplished team, but other than that, every other team gets better throughout the season.

What was your reaction to a lot of players coming back?
Matthews: That's mainly their decision. They had to do what was best for them. I didn't have a problem with it, I still wanted to go to Kentucky. It gives us a better chance to win it. Right now we're adding nine and when I get there we'll add 10.

What do you think of this upcoming season?
Matthews: I think they'll get it done, I do. They're really deep, especially at the big position. They have a lot of bigs there and solid guards too. I think they have the pieces to get it done.

When was the last time you visited?
Matthews: The only one time I visited, when was that? Last year in October. I'll be back down.

(Carlton Bragg interrupts the interview whispering "Kentucky.")

What are you expecting from Big Blue Madness?
Matthews: From what I heard it's great, it's eye-popping. I'm really going to just come away in awe and have a great time down there.

What's it been like since you've committed and players playing against a UK commit?
Matthews: It's definitely a target on your back. People really come after you hard to knock your head off but that comes with the territory, but that's what you get when you sign with the BBN and UK. You have to be able to compete and go against the best. People are going to play their best against you every time but I don't have a problem with it. I actually like it a lot.

Where do you rank yourself?
Matthews: I think I'm very good but that's up to you all to make that decision.

What do you see as your role?
Matthews: Basically I'm planning on playing all of them. I'm all over the perimeter. Just come and score the ball and be an energy creator and defend the ball really well.

How often do you talk to Calipari?
Matthews: I speak to him every once in a while. He doesn't bombard me with a lot of phone calls or text messages or anything like that and I respect him for that.

How many guys do you think will end up in 2015 and who?
Matthews: At least four. I speak to Malik Newman a lot. I want Malik (Newman). I want Carlton too. I want Cheick (Diallo). (Jaylen) Brown. I'd put Brown in there and (Ivan) Rabb. Big class. Big class.

What are you going to major in?
Matthews: I'm going to major in finance.







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