Michigan's Charles Matthews In For Pre-Draft Workout, Chats With Gary Harris

For a few moments in the Pepsi Center on Tuesday morning, Nuggets guard Gary Harris got Michigan pro prospect Charles Matthews to commit to a conversation. It was the second time he helped Matthews to a commitment. But this one Matthews stayed with.

Three years earlier, Harris helped get Matthews – then a highly-coveted prep prospect – committed to his former school, Michigan State. But then Kentucky coach John Calipari swooped in.

“I was going (to Michigan State),” said Matthews, smiling wide. “And then big, bad Cal came in the picture. It’s hard to say no to Cal.”

So, he didn’t. He went to Kentucky.

But a year later, Matthews did say no to Cal. No, to another season at Kentucky, and moved on to Michigan, where his game blossomed under the fundamental tutelage of John Beilein.

“It was a completely different process going to Michigan,” Matthews said. “Learning how to pass the ball. I told the media at the national championship I felt like a third grader again playing basketball; telling me when to shoot, when to cut, when to pass. But it was fun, he is such a basketball genius.”

And it was Matthews run through the NCAA Tournament that convinced him that testing the NBA waters was the right thing to do. He averaged 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament, leading the Wolverines to the national title game.

“It was huge,” Matthews said. “That’s when I felt ready to make that jump, going through the whole tournament and making it that far. Those are technically the best teams in college basketball, so you’re still competing at a high level. That did spark a lot of interest in me.”

ESPN has Matthews pegged to be a first-round pick – in the 2019 NBA Draft. Matthews has not hired an agent and would be a junior if he returns to Michigan next season. He was one of six prospects in for a pre-draft workout on Tuesday.

The others: Iowa’s Tyler Cook, Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Auburn’s Mustapha Heron, St. John’s Shamorie Ponds, and Marshall’s Jon Elmore.

HAPP AND THE JOKER: Ethan Happ, the 6-8 forward from Wisconsin is testing the NBA waters before deciding whether to return to the Badgers for his senior season. And of all of the comparisons of his game he’s heard, the one that’s made the biggest impression?

Nikola Jokić.

“The Joker, honestly,” said Happ, in reference to being a passing big, who can also shoot. “I’ve gotten comparisons. Obviously, he’s a lot better shooter... He’s a great player. It’s fun watching him.”

COOK ON TATUM: Iowa center Tyler Cook is a big, burly 6-9, 255-pound forward that has a famous connection to these NBA playoffs – he played on the same high school team with current Boston Celtics rookie Jason Tatum.

“I can’t say that I knew he would be scoring 23 points a night in the playoffs, but I definitely knew he would be a star in this league,” said Cook, who played his high school ball at Chaminade Prep in St. Louis, Missouri. “I’ve known him since seventh, eighth grade. That’s when I started taking basketball seriously. Seeing him being in the gym at 5:30 in the morning every day before school, that’s what taught me that’s the way you have to work to be good at what you do.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter