Ever since Steve Pikiell took over Rutgers a little more than a year ago now, the 2018 recruiting class has always been a major priority. With a loaded class of recruits in New Jersey and Rutgers set to lose key cogs in Deshawn Freeman and Mike Williams due to graduation, it has always been looked at as the class that Pikiell has the opportunity to reload the core talent in the program and finally have the roster filled with the majority of his players.
One thing Pikiell and the staff have shown throughout their time on the banks is their relentless pace on the recruiting trail. While they’ve focused hard on local talent, they are also wisely recruiting talent across the country that they feel are the right fits for the program. One player the staff identified last year is Montez Mathis, an ultra-athletic guard who can in score multiple ways and plays with toughness. He has become a major priority for Rutgers and it is very positive news that Mathis and his family visited campus on Saturday.
The 6’4” shooting guard from Maryland is rated a 4-star recruit by ESPN, Rivals, and 247 Sports. Rutgers was one of the first high majors to offer Mathis and after a very good junior season, he has seen his recruitment explode after several strong performances on the Adidas AAU circuit this spring.
Rutgers offered Mathis in mid-December at the start of the high school season. The coaching staff has visited Mathis multiple times since, including an in-home visit by coach Pikiell on April 18th. Since that visit, Mathis has picked up offers from South Florida, Xavier, UConn, Marquette, Texas A&M, Missouri, and VCU. In addition, Kansas and Oklahoma are both recruiting Mathis now, according to this report by Andrew Slater. According to 247 Sports, Mathis has over a dozen offers in total, including Virginia Tech and West Virginia, who started recruiting him early on, like Rutgers.
He was named one of the top performers at the Adidas Uprising event in Atlanta in late April. In this article by Jason Jordan of USA Today High School Sports, he labeled Mathis a “blue collar star.” Here is how Jordan described his game:
“Good luck finding a harder working guard than Mathis, a shooting guard with Team BBC (Md.). Consistently, all weekend, Mathis showed the full scope of his game and came up big for his team from hitting big threes to locking up defensively to racking up countless deflections on the defensive end.”
“Mathis, who is averaging 18.3 points per game, is blue collar and not only does he not mind doing the dirty work on the court, he seems to embrace it. Still, don’t mistake that assessment and label him a role player, Mathis has star qualities that are showing clearer every time he steps onto the court.”
This summary of Mathis describes the exact type of player that coach Pikiell wants to fill the roster with. Rutgers desperately needs a player with the athleticism and tenacity of Mathis, as well as his mindset. Pikiell wants grinders who will work on both ends of the floor and live in the gym. Everything else I’ve read or been told about Mathis lines up with that vision.
Various scouts have described Mathis as “a matchup problem”, “a deadly scorer from all three levels”, and “tough as nails”. Former Virginia Tech head coach and now ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg also praised Mathis at a recent AAU event.
Of any player that Rutgers is recruiting right now, no one excites me more than Mathis. He embodies every quality that the staff is looking for and would bring a much needed edge to the court. You can tell he loves the game and with his work ethic, he should continue to develop into an even more dynamic player over time. Simply put, Mathis could become the face of the program and a signature player in Steve Pikiell’s tenure at Rutgers. Mathis is listening and just told Eric Bossi of Rivals last month that “Rutgers is standing out some and they keep it 100 percent with me. We just had an in home visit with them and they ended up staying for three hours because it was going so well.”
With 4-star big man Mamadou Doucoure already committed to the program, it would make major waves on the recruiting trail if Rutgers could land Mathis. Having a player of his caliber on board before the end of the summer could really help with recruiting the rest of the 2018 class, as well as open some eyes of top prospects in the class of 2019. Sometimes all it takes is one big time player to take a chance and change the narrative of a losing program. Mathis seems to have the toughness and mentality that Rutgers sorely needs. He is a supreme talent. Let’s hope this weekend’s visit went well and there is no question Pikiell and the staff are doing everything they can to land the dynamic Mathis.
When I told them I was coming they just thought that I was bluffing pic.twitter.com/SBtmsbF0Ya— tez (@MontezMathis) April 30, 2017