Matthews stoic, relieved in making decision

Madison Memorial star expects to be a national champion at Marquette

FITCHBURG, Wis.—Wes Matthews looked calm, poised, focused. He spoke with quiet, deliberate, assurance, both in himself and the momentous decision he had to make.

"After careful consideration and just a lot of thought, a lot of stress, I have decided to attend Marquette University to play my years of basketball," Matthews said, opening a press conference Sunday night at the Quality Inn & Suites in Fitchburg. Matthews looked confident. And relieved. He wanted to get a decision out of the way early in the process to escape from the flow of mail and phone calls to his Madison home. That is why Georgia Tech, Matthews No. 3 choice, never really had a chance. Matthews wanted to make a decision before his high school season began and he would not have been able to visit Atlanta until his senior year of school.

"So my senior year is stress-free," Matthews said, when asked why he wanted to make an early decision. "So I can go out and just play. I wanted to (make the decision) before I actually went to Las Vegas (for The Main Event AAU tournament), which I leave for Wednesday. So I could be out there just playing, just having fun."

"The best part is right now, just getting it all over with and being confident in my decision," he said.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard averaged 15.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a junior last season, leading Madison Memorial to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 state title game, the Spartans' only loss of the season.

"This year we are planning on going undefeated," Matthews said. "That's our goal." Championships are what he expects at Marquette as well.

"I want to win everything," Matthews said. "Win the Big East, win the National Championship. That's my expectations. We have the core to do it, coach to do it. It's just going to be how hard we work."

Matthews said Sunday that he made his decision about two weeks ago. He notified Marquette coach Tom Crean of the decision earlier this week.

"I actually talked to Coach Crean recently and told him," Matthews said, "and he told me to tell you guys that he did scream like a little girl."

In the end, Matthews' decision boiled down to Marquette and Wisconsin.

"When it came down to Wisconsin and Marquette it was mainly about who wanted me more and where I could see myself," Matthews said.

"I just liked the whole atmosphere," Matthews added of Marquette. "I like that I'm close to home yet I'm still away from home. I like Coach Crean a lot. I like the fact that it's a private school, smaller class room sizes, smaller campus. And I also like the idea that there is no football there. So basketball is the main focus."

Matthews told Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan of his decision Sunday, sometime before the press conference. Despite Matthews' satisfaction in choosing Marquette, he referred to that moment as, "the hardest statement I've ever done."

"It's a great school," Matthews explained. "Bo Ryan's a great coach… and it's just hard to say no. But I had to do what was best for me.

"(Ryan) told me good luck. He wanted me to be at Wisconsin but he told me good luck and not to be a stranger. That meant a lot."

At Marquette, Matthews will be a combination guard.

"If we're struggling to bring the ball up the court, I can play the ‘1', if not, play the ‘2'," Matthews said. "(I will) be a point guard at the ‘2' position."

He served a similar role with the Spartans last season. And now that his college decision is safely out of the way, Matthews can focus on the task at hand.

"I'm committed to Marquette right now but that's not my focus," Matthews said. "I'm still in high school. I still want to win a (state) championship."

Matthews commitment is the third for Marquette's class of 2005 in the past two weeks. Richmond, Ind., point guard Dominic James and Tinley, Park, Ill., small forward Jerel McNeal committed July 2. Marquette also recently received a commitment from Beloit, Wis. guard/forward Anthony Green, for the class of 2006.

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