Last November, just days after inking four players to the 2014 recruiting class, University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino surprised everyone with the addition of a surprise Norwegian player.
Matz Stockman, a native of Oslo, Norway, was ranked among the top 100 foreign prospects when he signed with the Cardinals. The athletic, yet raw, 7-footer drew attention of coaches and scouts while attending the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands.
“He has great size and wingspan, shoots it well and has great spring in his legs,” Pitino said of Stockman upon his signing.
Having not faced the level of competition as the rest of his signing class, Stockman would be faced with the need to add weight and become accustomed to the physicality of the game in the U.S., along with adjusting to the American culture.
The off-the-court adjustment came quick and easy. Within days of arriving on campus in July, Stockman and his new teammates were like old friends, spending most of their time together.
“We're good teammates already,” he told Cardinal Authority. “We're like a brotherhood. We always have fun together and that helps with my adjustment to the culture. The adjustment has been fine.”
The biggest adjustment will be his play on the court.
He averaged 15 minutes of action during the team's two Red-White scrimmages, totaling 5 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the two games. He saw little action, just three minutes, when the Cardinals faced Barry University in an exhibition last Saturday.
While becoming accustomed to the college game will take some time, Pitino has asked the freshman to focus on improving his aggressiveness at both ends of the floor.
“He wants me to become a little more aggressive and look to score the basketball,” Stockman explained. “He gives us freedom once we get the ball on offense. He wants to be more aggressive on offense and block shots on defense.”
Pitino has hinted at the possibility of redshirting Stockman, allowing him additional time to develop. However, as one would expect from an athlete, Stockman's hopes are to play this season.
“I want to play. I don't think anybody wants to sit out a whole year, so I hope to get to play.”
One thing that Stockman is certain of – the skill level of his new team.
“We have a great team,” he said. “Everyone is very talented. We just need to synchronize and get on the same page.”