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Wednesday, June 5, 2013
A.J. Matthews: From Div. III to the Knicks?

By Jared Zwerling

Nine players in history have gone from Division III to the NBA, but none were ever drafted by or suited up for the Knicks.

Could Brooklyn-born A.J. Matthews be the first?

The 6-foot-10, 215-pound center, who played for Farmingdale State (New York) last season, worked out for the Knicks on Wednesday. The team is looking to draft a point guard or big man, and Matthews is ready for the opportunity close to home -- even if it's with the Nets.

"My mother was a big Knicks fan and my father liked Brooklyn, born and raised in Brooklyn," he said. "I feel like these two teams that invited me here for my first workouts, it's a blessing. I'll really take advantage of it."

During his senior year, Matthews led all of Division III in rebounding (16.3 per game), while finishing third in blocks (3.67) and 11th in scoring (22.4). He lead the Rams to an 20-8 record and the championship game.

Matthews, who didn't have qualifying SAT scores coming out of American Christian Academy (Aston, Pa.), has bounced around since high school. While he drew interest from Cincinnati and Oklahoma State early on, he was forced to take the JUCO route because of his low grades. He went from Tallahassee Community College (Florida) to Garden City Community College (Kansas) to Monroe College (New York) to Broward Community College (Florida) to Farmingdale State.

Matthews said he "really doesn't care" about potentially being the 10th Division III player to make the NBA. He said "it's basketball at the end of the day," and he believes he has the skills to succeed on the next level.

"I can run the floor a lot for a big man," he said. "I work hard on defense a lot. That's my main focus -- defense, rebounding. ... I'm quicker than most big men, so I think I could bring that to a good team."

'CUSE IN THE HOUSE: 6-4, 198-pound combo guard Brandon Triche, who was born in and played for Syracuse, worked out for the Knicks on Wednesday.

Going head-to-head with Isaiah Canaan, Triche said he had his "best workout so far."

"I was able to shoot the 3-point shot the best of the four places I've been," he said.

Triche's biggest knocks are his lack of athleticism and scoring ability. But he's noted for his spot-up jumper and high basketball IQ, which he believes will help him in the NBA.

"I do have a lot of experience," he said. "I think I can be a better pro than a college player, so if I'm able to be that and reach my potential, then I'll go a long way."

Triche said Orangemen coach Jim Boeheim and former player and current Knick, Carmelo Anthony, have both given him similar advice: "Just be in the best shape possible."

"They said, 'If you're a guy who's able to exert your energy, sometimes you may not be as talented, but that will definitely show more,'" he said.

THURSDAY WORKOUTS: The Knicks will look at Reggie Bullock (North Carolina forward), James Ennis (Long Beach State forward), Kenny Kadji (Miami center), Romero Osby (Oklahoma forward), Brandon Paul (Illinois point guard) and B.J. Young (Arkansas point guard).

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