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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Charles Matthews commits to UK

By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- St. Rita guard Charles Matthews, ESPN's 12th-ranked junior, committed to Kentucky on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-6, 180-pound point guard chose the Wildcats over Illinois, Kansas, Marquette and Michigan State.

Matthews put on a Kentucky hat after making his decision before fellow students at St. Rita's gymnasium.

"This was a place I felt that could really help me achieve my dream," Matthews said. "I felt a great relationship with the coaching staff and have a good chance to win there. They're going to get me better as a player.

"I couldn't exactly put my finger on it, but I felt a gut feeling. I went there and sat down with the coaching staff, met the players, got the tour. I just felt, 'This is me. This is where I want to be.'"

St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare, a former college assistant coach, touted Matthews' ability to play multiple positions and thinks that he will fit in well under Kentucky coach John Calipari.

"Charles is a special player," DeCesare said. "He's got great versatility. I use him everywhere. In his three years, I've played him from point guard to center. He's got that versatility. He's a humble kid. He's a really hard worker. He wants to be good. He tries to do everything perfect.

"He's had great coaches recruit him. Any place would have been a great fit. I've known Coach Cal for a long time. Some of our players have played for him at UMass and through his career. He'll fit right in the Kentucky system."

Matthews wouldn't name a second-place finisher, but he said it was difficult turning down his home-state school, Illinois.

Matthews' friend and Illini recruit D.J. Williams, a junior at Simeon, attended Matthews' news conference.

"That was really tough," Matthews said. "Coach [John] Groce and his staff did an incredible job of recruiting me. Coach Groce is in the rebuilding stage of that program. Me being close to D.J., that was hard. At the end of the day, I knew Kentucky was better for me. I had to do what was best for me."

Calipari has had recent success landing some of the Chicago area's top players. Marian Catholic senior point guard Tyler Ulis, who is ranked No. 24 by ESPN, is signed with Kentucky, and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who attended Perspectives in Chicago, also played at Kentucky. Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who attended Simeon, played for Calipari at Memphis.

Ulis and Matthews were teammates last summer in club basketball with MeanStreets. Matthews said he spoke with Ulis about Kentucky.

"We played over the summertime together," Matthews said. "We had a lot of success. He's a great point guard, the best in his class. That opened my eyes up a lot."

Matthews is Kentucky's first recruit in the Class of 2015.