When Matisse Thybulle arrived at the Oakland Airport for his official visit, he got the first of several surprises: The entire California basketball staff was waiting for him.
After that, he said, the trip “was all a blur,” but there were several key moments that stuck out for the four-star small forward.
“It was great. I had a really great time,” Thybulle said. “It was a lot more than I expected. I didn’t think I was going to meet as many people as I did, or get to hang out with the team and all that, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be, so it was a pleasant surprise. It definitely exceeded my expectations.”
Thybulle spent a lot of time with the current players, and was shocked at how fast they’d grown close to new coach Cuonzo Martin.
“I got a good feel about the staff,” Thybulle said. “I got to meet the whole staff. I didn’t know all of them before. I already had a pretty good relationship with coach Yanni Hufnagel, but I really got to get to know coach Martin, and the thing outside of me talking to him and getting to know him, was the team spoke really highly of him, even though they’ve only had him as a coach for a few months now. They speak the world of him. They think the world of him. That was great.”
Thybulle also got to get on the court and play with the Bears, after having a private photo session in the locker room with a professional photographer.
“I got to hang out with the team a couple times. We got some donuts one night,” Thybulle said. “We played in open gym, and I got to go up and down with the guys a little bit. It was open-gym style, pick teams, go to five, pick teams again.
“We toured around the campus, which is beautiful, just a beautiful campus. I got to have meetings with a bunch of people, like the academic people, the guy in charge of academics for student athletes, their tutors and academic specialists. Then, we watched a couple videos just on Cal in the team room. I got to do a photo shoot in the locker room, which was fun. There was like a lady photographer there, just for me, so that was really fun.”
After having played with the current team, Thybulle got a good feeling not only for their style of play, but also for the players, themselves.
“I thought it was fun. I liked playing with them,” Thybulle said. “Even though it was open gym, they still played together, and you could just tell that there was a really strong team feel among them, and it wasn’t like anyone had an ego, like they were out there trying to prove something; they were just trying to play and compete. That was really fun.”
What really struck Thybulle was the family atmosphere around Haas Pavilion and the program.
“The bonding time I got to have with the team, that was really good, because I really like the guys on the team,” Thybulle said. “They’re all great guys, and they were really nice to me, and each other, and just showed me a good time and hung out with me. Also, the coaches, all of them, there was a really strong family atmosphere, I felt like. They were all really close.
“I wasn’t expecting to come across a team that was as close as they were. I thought there would be egos or just things like that, but there really wasn’t any of that at all. That was probably the biggest surprise, and I liked that about their team.”
This was Thybulle’s first official visit (“If I had to grade my visit, I’d say like a B+ or an A-,” he said), which he took with his father, who “loved it.”
“He really liked the campus and he liked what the coaching staff had to offer, and also the team and what the whole program was about,” Thybulle said.
Up next for Thybulle is an official visit to Oregon this coming weekend, and then one to Gonzaga the weekend after that.
“I’m definitely not going to commit anywhere until I’m done with all my visits,” Thybulle said. “After that, as soon as possible, hopefully. I don’t want to waste any time.”
The Bellevue (Wash.) Eastside Catholic prospect “might” take an official visit to Washington, which he has already visited unofficially.
“We don’t know yet,” Thybulle said. “I’m only going to take it if I think I’m going to need it.”
VISIT REPORT: Thybulle Surprised by Cal Trip
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