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UND basketball signs prep big man from Chicago, a one-time UMass commitment with a 7-foot wing span

Mathews is a 6-foot-9 center from DePaul College Prep.

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UND head men's basketball coach Paul Sather (second from left) talks strategy with his players during a timeout break against South Dakota during last season in Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

With UND losing standout center Filip Rebraca to Iowa this offseason, the Fighting Hawks entered the recruiting season in need of landing a big body.

Enter 6-foot-9, 230-pound Brian Mathews of the Chicago area.

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Mathews, a one-time UMass commitment, has signed his letter of intent to play for the Fighting Hawks.

"They've been recruiting me for a while now," Mathews said. "I've looked into them. It's a great basketball program and a great environment. They have really good studies in criminology, which is what I want to go into. Everything looked really good."

Mathews was a dominant force inside for DePaul College Prep as the program's all-time leader in blocks to help his squad capture the Chipotle Clash of Champions title, a de facto state title, in 2021. He was named the tournament's most valuable player after scoring 20 points and grabbing five rebounds in the championship game over the No. 11 team in the state.

"I've been told I have a really good motor," Mathews said. "I do things other bigs don't like to do -- getting on the floor for loose balls and getting dirty. Those are the little things I do. I love rebounding.

"I'm really excited to start and come to North Dakota. It's going to be hard and challenging, and I'm ready for it."

Mathews earned all-city and all-state selections in his final season for the Rams, as well as a two-time All-Catholic League honoree. The Rams closed out the season as the top-ranked team in Chicago and the No. 23 team in the nation.

"Brian plays the game with a high motor and a great deal of competitive spirit," UND coach Paul Sather said. "He played in a great high school program at DePaul College Prep and has been pushed by his high school coaches. He's a 6'9", 230lb physical presence in the paint and is really comfortable playing with his back to the basket. He left his high school as the all-time leader in blocked shots, using his 7-foot wingspan to defend the rim. He can be impactful on both ends of the court, and he's just a freshman."

Mathews is one of six newcomers expected to come in next fall. He joins guard Paul Bruns of North Sioux City, S.D., guard Reid Grant of Johnston, Iowa, center Gavin McGrath of Onalaska, Wis., forward Brendan Howard of Montana State-Billings and guard Matt Norman of Snow College.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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