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'Back at it': Ex-Wolverine Charles Matthews agrees to deal with Cleveland Cavaliers

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Charles Matthews has finally gotten his foot in the NBA door.

The former Wolverine agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he announced Sunday on his Twitter account.

Charles Matthews

It’s been a long journey for Matthews to get to this point. After playing at Michigan for two seasons, he opted to leave early and declare for the 2019 NBA Draft despite having one year of eligibility remaining.

Less than two weeks before the draft, his pro pursuits suffered a setback when he tore his ACL during a pre-draft workout with the Boston Celtics.

Matthews went undrafted and returned to his hometown of Chicago, where he stayed busy by rehabbing, completing his Michigan degree, co-founding The Players Trunk — a company that helps former college athletes sell their old gear — and working for the long-awaited opportunity that came on Sunday.

“Back at it! Thank you God!” Matthews tweeted. “Cavs let’s get to it.”

Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade, a fellow Chicago native and mentor to Matthews, celebrated the news by tweeting: “Congr(a)ts on signing with the Cavs lil bro. Now the work starts! Let’s go!”

Matthews, who transferred to Michigan from Kentucky, helped the Wolverines win a Big Ten tournament title and reach the national title game in 2018. He averaged 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and two assists as a two-year starter who was best known for his tenacious defense, which had generated buzz during the pre-draft process before he was injured.

Matthews, 24, will try to earn a roster spot on a Cavaliers team that finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season at 19-46 and went through a midseason coaching change. John Beilein, Matthews’ coach at Michigan, stepped down after 54 games and was replaced by J.B. Bickerstaff.

“Great news for (Matthews),” Beilein tweeted. “He can become a 3 and D guy that every NBA team loves to have. He is also a fabulous teammate and high character young man. Charles can guard the very best and did that so many times for us. Excited for him and the Cavs!”

Cleveland had one pick — No. 5 overall — in Wednesday’s NBA Draft and selected Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, a defensive-minded wing who needs to progress as a shooter like Matthews. In addition to Okoro, the Cavs have two other small forwards under contract for 2020-21: Cedi Osman and Dylan Windler.

Matthews is the third former Wolverine to sign a deal this week. Jon Teske and Zavier Simpson will be heading to training camp with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively, after going undrafted.

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins