Good day: Matthews returns, UM lands top-40 recruit

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Michigan wing Charles Matthews

Wednesday was a promising day for the future of Michigan basketball.

But it didn't come without some suspense.

After testing the NBA Draft waters for the past month, wing Charles Matthews waited until the final day of the early entrant withdrawal deadline to announce his return to Michigan for his redshirt junior season.

"I am thankful for the assistance Coach (John) Beilein and the staff have given me in order to gain as much information as possible before making this decision," Matthews said in a statement. "They showed great confidence and patience with me while I sorted this all out.

"After much prayer and discussions with my family and the staff, I am excited to be returning to Michigan next year. I learned a lot throughout this process, but my main focus will now be completing my education at Michigan and leading my teammates to more success next season."

A few hours after Matthews' announcement, Michigan made a splash with its first recruiting coup for 2019 when Jalen Wilson, a four-star forward from Texas, announced his commitment to the Wolverines in an "Uncle Drew" style video on Twitter.

After sitting out the 2016-17 season following his transfer from Kentucky, Matthews started all 41 games last season for the Wolverines. He ranked second on the team in scoring (13 points) and rebounding (5.5), and also tied for the team lead in blocks (26) and finished with the third-most assists (98).

Matthews was also instrumental in Michigan's deep postseason run, which netted the program its second straight Big Ten tournament title and a national title game appearance. And he was arguably Michigan’s top player in the NCAA Tournament, where he averaged 14.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in six games and was named the West Region's Most Outstanding Player.

However, his postseason performance wasn’t enough to catapult him into any major 2018 mock drafts or earn an NBA Draft Combine invite, meaning he likely would've faced long odds to be selected in June's draft.

With Matthews back, though, the Wolverines return three starters from last season's national runner-up squad — after losing big man Moritz Wagner (draft) and guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (graduation) — and bring in one of the nation's best 2018 classes with four-star forwards Ignas Brazdeikis and Brandon Johns, four-star guard David DeJulius, four-star big man Colin Castleton and three-star wing Adrien Nunez.

And while Matthews has room to improve as a ball handler and a 3-point and free-throw shooter, his return is a huge boon for a young Michigan group that will be viewed as a legit Big Ten contender and a team capable of making noise in the NCAA Tournament next season.

"This process allows young men to gather so much valuable information and make the most informed decision they can," Beilein said in a statement. "Charles has an incredible personality and confidence. His work habits and desire to reach his potential are terrific.

"He is more focused than ever to improve in all areas of his game. Like others before him, Charles will be a great senior leader for us and we are excited to have this opportunity to coach him again next season."

As for Wilson, he picked Michigan over his five other finalists of Baylor, Marquette, Kansas, Oklahoma State and UCLA.

Wilson (6-foot-6, 185 pounds) is rated the No. 8 small forward in the nation and No. 34 overall prospect by the 247Sports Composite rankings. He averaged 16.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists for Guyer High this past season.

Wilson marks Michigan’s first commit for its 2019 recruiting class after it missed out on Tyrese Maxey, a five-star point guard from Texas, and New Haven’s Romeo Weems, the top-rated player in the state.

Michigan has also extended scholarship offers to 2019 targets Keion Brooks, a five-star forward from Indiana; D.J. Carton, a four-star point guard from Iowa; Rocket Watts, a four-star guard from Detroit Old Redford Academy; and Joe Girard III, a three-star guard from New York.

Wilson’s commitment fills Michigan’s last available scholarship for 2019, but that's assuming everyone returns from next season's team.