Montez Mathis, a consensus 4-star guard and top 100 recruit in the class of 2018, verbally committed to Rutgers on Friday. He immediately becomes the signature recruit of the Steve Pikiell era so far.
A day after postponing his announcement, Mathis chose Rutgers over UConn and Virginia Tech, among various high major offers.
The Essex, Maryland native, who plays high school ball at John Carroll, fits the vision coach Pikiell has for the program like a glove. This is major news for many reasons. Here are five things that stand out about Montez Mathis, the 6’4” shooting guard, now heading to Rutgers.
He is a dynamic scorer
He can attack the rim, has a knack for slashing through traffic, can make jumpers from the baseline, and knock down three-pointers. He averaged 17.5 points per game between the two major Adidas Tournaments this past spring and summer. In six of the twelve games, Mathis scored at least 22 points and his lowest output was 8 points. Rutgers is in desperate need of a true scorer and they now have one in Mathis.
He has the chance to be great defensively
Pikiell and the staff need high motor players who are willing to go just as hard on the defensive end as they are on offense. Mathis is active and alert, flashing the potential to be a true lockdown defender in the Big Ten. He will buy into the staff’s defensive plan and be an asset defending the perimeter and a weapon in starting the fast break off of turnovers.
He has been labeled a blue collar star
He was named one of the top performers at the Adidas Uprising event in Atlanta in late April and Jason Jordan of USA Today High School Sports labeled Mathis a “blue collar star” in this article. Rutgers needs talented players who are willing to embrace the grind of rebuilding the program. That mentality is not for everyone and it’s imperative that Pikiell find those types of players, who he has said before “live in the gym.” Mathis is exactly that type of player and seems to be a low maintenance addition. He isn’t flashy on social media, nor came off as attention seeking in his recruitment. Mathis appears to be the definition of a true baller, which is exactly what this program needs.
He brings needed toughness
We know that the staff stress the importance of every player on the floor needing to rebound the basketball and Mathis fits that approach well. He averaged 4.9 rebounds per game at those same two major Adidas Tournaments in the past few months. However, what really sticks out was how hard he worked at the Adidas Uprising event during the first week of the July live period. His squad, Team BBC, played three games in one day, and Mathis struggled badly shooting the ball in two of those contests. The positive is that Mathis grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 2 shots in the third game he played that day. It’s that type of hard nosed determination and effort that Rutgers badly needs! Watch how Mathis (#23) crashes the boards after dishing off to 5-star teammate Immanuel Quickley on the baseline. That’s the type of effort and high IQ that makes him a complete player.
He changes the narrative in recruiting
As much of an impact Mathis will likely have on the court for Rutgers in the future, his commitment now completely changes the perception of the program on the recruiting trail. The fact that Pikiell went head to head with his alma mater, UConn, who every national recruiting analyst predicted would ultimately land Mathis earlier this week, makes this win even sweeter. Mathis has a composite ranking of 79th in the 2018 class per 247 Sports. I mentioned on Wednesday that I believed Rutgers was still in it and it was possible many were assuming UConn would land Mathis based on past history and perception.
With Pikiell and the staff landing high flying 3-star point guard Mac McClung yesterday, Rutgers has made a big statement less than a week after the conclusion of the July live period. Add in 4-star big man Mamadou Doucoure and Rutgers is looking at their best recruiting class in quite some time. The 2018 class has always been viewed as critical ever since Pikiell took over the program and to have this type of group committed before the fall is absolutely huge. Depending on what happens with the one scholarship still available for next season, there could be one more spot to fill in the 2018 class. Of course, anything can happen in the future and expect the staff to continue to work hard, both with this current class and future ones as well.
It’s important to remember that a complete overhaul and upgrade of talent within the program is needed for Rutgers to truly make major strides forward in the Big Ten. However, they now have a marquee recruit to feature and promote regarding the future of the program. Montez Mathis bought into the vision that Pikiell has sold and immediately becomes the face of the rebuild. In just under 18 months since Pikiell took over Rutgers, there hasn’t been as much of a reason to believe in the program as there is now. The relentless work of the coaching staff on the recruiting trail is now paying off! Better days are most certainly ahead!
Welcome to the banks, Montez Mathis!!!
Dave White’s Take: OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING I’M GOING TO GO AND CELEBRATE WOOT!!