When Michigan’s season ended in the national title game, redshirt sophomore wing Charles Matthews was unsure what his next move would be.
After taking time to weigh his future options, Matthews announced his decision to submit his name for the NBA draft on Friday. However, he will not hire an agent, which keeps the door open to return to Michigan next season.
“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” Matthews said in a statement. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support.”
Matthews played his freshman year at Kentucky in 2015-16 before transferring to Michigan and sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules. As a full-time starter this past season, Matthews ranked second on the team in scoring (13 points) and rebounding (5.5) and third in assists (2.4) in 41 games.
Matthews was at his best during Michigan’s NCAA Tournament run, which ended with a loss to Villanova in the national championship, and was named Most Outstanding Player of the West Region. He averaged 14.8 points and 6.2 rebounds and shot 50.7 percent from the field in six NCAA Tournament games.
“Great strides are there. He's got a brilliant future because he works so hard, he keeps going at it and he's allowing himself to be coached,” Michigan coach John Beilein said of Matthews last week before the team’s awards banquet.
“That's a big thing that he wants whether it's (assistant coaches) Luke (Yaklich) or Dre (Haynes) or Saddi (Washington), there's just no distractions. It's, 'Coach just teach me. I just want to get better.'”
While Matthews possesses the type of athleticism NBA teams covet and his decision was an expected move that will allow him to garner valuable feedback, he isn’t listed among ESPN’s top 100 NBA draft prospects and his name hasn’t appeared in any 2018 mock drafts. For 2019, though, he’s projected to be a first-round pick at No. 28 by ESPN and an early second-rounder at No. 36 by NBADraft.net.
However, Beilein expressed caution that there could be a downside for players to go through the evaluation process because it might expose weaknesses the player is still working on. Matthews led the team with 84 turnovers, and shot 31.8 percent from 3-point range and 55.8 percent at the free-throw line.
“I would say probably 40 of those (turnovers) were walks. If you go back to it, he was averaging two walks a game and now he averaged a walk maybe every other game (late in the season),” Beilein said. “Those are huge things to give you confidence. I can go in the lane, I can make a play and I'm not going to get whistled. I don't like bad walks, but they were walks and he's gotten better at something that simple. Then the shooting, all that stuff, you can see it. It's going to get there.”
Matthews is the second Wolverine to enter the draft early after junior center Moritz Wagner announced last weekend he is skipping his senior season and hiring an agent.
Matthews can begin attending workouts hosted by NBA teams starting Tuesday and, if invited, can participate in the NBA combine from May 16-20 in Chicago.
He will have until May 30 to decide whether to remain in the draft or withdraw his name and return to Michigan. Matthews has two years of eligibility remaining.
“We have loved the initiative and maturity Charles has shown during this early phase of the testing the NBA Draft process,” Beilein said. “We have been, and will continue, to work closely with Charles and his family to gain as much information as possible in the weeks ahead.”