The Marquette Golden Eagles are 2-0 for the third-consecutive year—but this year there is a major difference.
Besides the fact the Golden Eagles have won both of their games by an average of 25 points, there has been a change in skill, character, and leadership.
Wesley Matthews, one of four seniors on Marquette and one of two players to start all 35 games last season, has seized control of the team after three subpar and quizzical seasons—which included three NCAA Tournament appearances and two first-round exits.
Averaging 26.5 points, seven rebounds, 3.5 steals, and one block per game, Matthews has scorched teams this season. His scoring average has risen 15 points per game from last season. The senior is currently tied for sixth in the Nation and second in the Big East in points per game, trailing most notables Stephen Curry, Luke Harangody, and Jodie Meeks.
Matthews set career highs in points (27) and assists (8) against IUPUI in the opener, while shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 91.2 percent from the free-throw line. So far, Wesley has only missed one free throw (21-22) and is shooting a Big East-best 95.5 percent from the charity stripe.
Excelling in the open floor, the 6'5" two-guard is a bonafide scorer with an assortment of moves, ranging from hesitation dribbles, to swift up-and-under layups, to awe-striking dunks.
The Big East Player of the Year candidate studiously worked on his shooting mechanics and as a result, Matthews is the only player in college basketball to average at least 25 points, shoot 55 percent from the field, shoot 80 percent from three-point range, average five assists, a block, and three steals per game—All-American numbers
A pure-bred athlete, Wesley’s mother was a track star at the University of Wisconsin, and his father played in the NBA from 1980-1990.
If Matthews continues his torrid pace, expect comparisons to four-time All Star and 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, himself a former Marquette slasher.
Should Wesley fail to win Player of the Year, he’s a deadbolt lock for Big East Most Improved Player of the Year.
The Golden Eagles resume battle Saturday at home against the unranked Milwaukee Panthers.