Atewe To Visit UW This Weekend

Ever since Matthew Atewe a 6-foot-9 center/forward from Brampton, Ontario - a suburb of Toronto - tweeted out that he would be taking an official visit to Washington the weekend of April 17th, Husky Hoop fans have been asking - who is Matthew Atewe? spoke Wednesday night with Atewe to find out more.

With Washington officially granting releases to Nigel Williams-Goss, Darin Johnson, and Gilles Dierickx, that means there’s only four scholarship players currently on the UW Men’s roster: Andrew Andrews, Donaven Dorsey, Jernard Jarreau, and Quevyn Winters. The Huskies are welcoming six scholarship players in this summer for the 2015-16 season: Dejounte Murray, David Crisp, Marquese Chriss, Matisse Thybulle, Devenir Duruisseau, and Malik Dime. That still only makes 10 scholarship players for a roster allowed 13 scholarship spots.

There’s no question Atewe’s transfer, should he be allowed to play immediately, would be considered a coup for Lorenzo Romar and his staff given the amount of recent attrition.

Atewe is of Nigerian decent, but grew up in Canada. He played high school basketball at Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School in Etobicoke, another Toronto suburb, but five years ago moved to the United State to attend prep school. “It was needed for a change,” Atewe told about his decision to attend Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. - a little over an hour away from Boston. “I felt like I could have developed a lot faster while playing in the states because there wasn’t really a whole lot of competition as far as my size goes. That was the reason why I made the change.”

How would Atewe describe his game? “Just a big, physical presence,” he said, matter-of-factly. “When healthy I can sprint the floor, block shots, rebound, score in the post a little bit.” While blocking shots is his favorite thing to do, Atewe admits that he’s got the reputation of being a tough guy on the court. “Everyone says on the court I play angry and mean,” he added. “And I play hard.”

Atewe was recruited by Memphis, Marquette, Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, Nebraska and Auburn out of high school, but chose Auburn because of the head coach at the time, Tony Barbee. “He was the coach there before Bruce Pearl and he really stressed the whole family thing,” Atewe said of his decision to become a Tiger. “It was a thing where it was bigger than basketball. I know now I can talk to him at any time or ask him for advice even though he’s not my coach right now.”

Barbee was Atewe’s coach for a season at Auburn before he was replace by Pearl, the former Tennessee head coach. Barbee is now an assistant coach at Kentucky. “I played hurt my freshman year, played through a stress fracture,” Atewe said of his time at Auburn. He played in 24 games off the bench, averaging 1.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game. He also had at least one block in 14 of 24 games he played in.

“Had surgery and kind of got rushed back to play. I got hurt in the pre-season in our exhibition game. I got hurt then, and I was out for the year.”

Atewe, still currently enrolled at Auburn, has made it clear he plans on transferring out. “I need a change of scenery,” he explained. “I felt that way when coach Barbee was fired. I tried to give it a year to see but after a year I felt like this was for sure - I just needed a fresh start.

“People are telling me all I have to do is file a waver because I was hurt and I should be able to play immediately. I have three years of eligibility left.”

Memphis, Tulsa, UNLV are the other schools recruiting Atewe hard besides the Huskies once Atewe made it clear he was moving on from Auburn. “(Washington) Coach (Raphael) Chillious is the first one I spoke to, but mostly I’ve been talking with coach (Lorenzo) Romar,” Atewe said. “I kind of like him as a person and it feels like he’s a genuine person, someone I can talk to about anything - somewhat like coach Barbee, my coach at Auburn.”

Atewe has no other visits set up yet, other than the one to Washington this coming weekend. “I just wanted to go to Washington with a clear mind,” he said. “That’s the reason I haven’t planned another visit after Washington.

“I’ve taken it all in stride. I didn’t start taking calls or planning visits or stuff like that until after the Final Four.”

Atewe has a bit of a connection with the west coast, even though he’s never been to Seattle. “I’ve always been interested in the west coast,” he said. “I went to high school for a year in San Diego and I know it’s not the same as Washington but that was one of the best experiences of my life, being out there in the west and being on the beach and that vibe too. That was always something I was interested in.”

When will Atewe make his decision as to which school will earn his transfer? “I don’t know,” he said. “I always figured that if it was right I would just decide. I won’t drag it out too long.”

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