As Emmitt Matthews Jr. announced his return to West Virginia on Friday, his situation is unique coming back to the original program that he started at.
Matthews played at West Virginia from 2018-21, helping the Mountaineers reach the 2021 NCAA Tournament. During his junior season at WVU, Matthews averaged 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds as he was a consistent starter for most of his time in Morgantown. During his only season at Washington, Matthews averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Huskies. Matthews shot 43 percent from the field, 34 percent from three and 76 percent from the free-throw line.
“I think going to another school and learning a new system is hard to do. I know the system, the play style and the coaching,” Matthews told Metro News. “I didn’t burn any bridges when I left. Hopefully, we can get Huggs a title.”
During the new age of college athletics, many players enter the transfer portal never to return. But with the updated rules where players have one, free transfer where they don’t have to sit out, a few players have returned to their original programs.
Let’s take a look at the notable players that left their team only to come back.
TYLER HARRIS (MEMPHIS / IOWA STATE / MEMPHIS)
JASON CARTER (OHIO / XAVIER / OHIO)
JERIAH HORNE (TULSA / COLORADO / TULSA)
CALEB GRILL (IOWA STATE / UNLV / IOWA STATE)
PARKER STEWART (UT-MARTIN / INDIANA / UT-MARTIN)
EMMITT MATTHEWS, JR. (WVU / WASHINGTON / WVU)
One thing in common with these players is that they’ve returned to their program within the last two seasons. Before the NCAA granted student-athletes with the free transfer, you rarely saw players transfer twice, let alone to their original school. Now with the updated rules, guys can transfer out as an undergraduate and get another free transfer as a graduate transfer. This leads to guys returning to their former schools and giving it one more go-around with their teammates and coaches.
Carter and Horne saw their production rise when they returned to their original schools. Harris returned to his same productivity when he was at Memphis for the first time. Harris most recently will transfer from Penny Hardaway’s program for a second time around this offseason.
Stewart transferred back to UT-Martin last week but is expected to up his productivity from when he was at Indiana. Matthews has that exact same opportunity. Matthews should be able to replicate his numbers from his one season in Seattle.
Matthews showed flashes of stardom during his freshman season but become a contributing piece behind Deuce McBride and Derek Culver. Now with Matthews back for his fifth season of college basketball, the Mountaineers will need Matthews to step up and be the go-to guy.