Freshman Forward Ready To Do His Part

Freshman forward Matthew Atewe talks about his summer, getting ready for his first season at Auburn, and more.

Auburn, Ala.—Part of a large incoming basketball recruiting class for Coach Tony Barbee and the Auburn Tigers, 6-9, 235 Matthew Atewe could have an impact right away because of his combination of size and athletic ability. While his offensive game needs work, Atewe is a physical rebounder and shot blocker in the paint.

Playing for the Canadian National Under 19 team before heading to Auburn, Atewe says so far things are going well with his introduction to Southeastern Conference basketball and life with the Tigers.

"It has been a long process," Atewe says. "I was with the national team before I got here so that's kind of the reason I wasn't able to get here on time. It has been good so far. We have just been working out and lifting and playing so far. We started practice a few days ago and it has been real smooth so far."

With veteran Rob Chubb gone in the middle for the Tigers, only Asahn Dixon-Tatum returns as a presence inside along with little-used freshman Jordon Granger. More physically capable of handling himself in the paint than most incoming guys on this level, Atewe says his goal is just to help out the team however possible.

"I'll just try to work as hard as I can and do as much as I can," Atewe says. "I feel that defensively I'll be able to contribute in a larger way. I'm up for the challenge for whatever is about to happen.

"I'm a rebounding, shot-blocking type of player who can help teams out in a big way defensively," he adds. "Offensively, it's being able to catch the ball and finish."

Saying he's excited about the athleticism and size with the team so far, Atewe notes that something that should help his transition will be getting to work with and against Dixon-Tatum every day in practice.

"I think it will be perfect," Atewe says. "Being around someone like Asahn and him being that big and with us kind of playing the same position, the five (center), it should be good to be able to pick his brain and learn from him and whatnot."

Coming into a program that won just nine games last season, Atewe says much of the time on and off the court has been spent on team chemistry along with improving as players. Saying that he's seen things coming together already in practices and pick-up games, the freshman says he thinks things will turn around and turn around quickly this season on the Plains.

"I feel that although we're rebuilding that we're on the rise, especially with the freshmen coming in," Atewe says. "We're all focused and have a winning mentality. I think two of the freshmen came from Findlay Prep, a winning program. I came from a team where we lost in the semi-finals of the national championship. I feel a new winning mentality coming on that hasn't been there before."

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