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What Makes Wesley, Wesley

December 23, 2009
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[Note: I figure I should get this post out ASAP–before Wesley gets traded or becomes the last guy on the bench once The Koof is sent to the Flash–and it becomes irrelevant. And with CJ returning, it might already be. But hopefully not.]

Basketball fans are starting to take notice of our rookie, Oh My Sweet Wesley, and not just those in Utah. In just a few weeks’ time, he’s become our best defender according to the Jazz’s new defense scoring system (which says a lot about the rest of the team, but that’s beside the point).

In recent days and weeks, he’s been profiled on and has cracked’s rookie rankings.

From the profile, we learn about his basketball upbringing and why he’s able to do some of the things he does on the court despite 30 teams passing on him twice.

Several of Matthews’ youth coaches saw his skills and early size and wanted him as close to the rim as possible. “I refused to let that happen,” Moore said. “I knew based on my genes and his father’s genes, Wesley was not going to be more than, what, 6-5? Maybe 6-2, 6-3. So I had to fight to make sure that he developed his whole game. He had to ‘play up’ [against older players] for two years to make sure he was one of the smaller ones on the team, to make sure he’d be in the backcourt.

Said Moore: “[Sloan is] exactly the right coach. I have a friend who follows the NBA a lot and, for the type of person and player Wesley is — very high IQ, versatile player, hard-nosed defense — the two places we always felt would be good for him were Utah and San Antonio. Wesley is a very system-oriented type of guy.”

After the Jazz played Cleveland in mid-November, LBJ stopped Matthews (and the recently departed Maynor) while they were exiting the court to offer them some words of encouragement.

Dwight Howard, I think, did the same last night. “I think” because I only saw this and obviously couldn’t hear what they were saying:

Here’s a look at Wesley’s first NBA game, including reaction from his mom (posted by Marquette Athletics):

And a great interview with Locke: (mp3)

P.S. Just as a side note, it’s been well documented that Matthews was raised by his mom, and that he prefers to be called “Wesley” rather than “Wes.” I guess his dad didn’t get the memo haha:

“I see the demeanor, and the hustle, but Wes is a little more advanced than I (was) defensively as a rookie. I didn’t have the ability that he has as a rookie,” the elder Matthews said. “He’s a leader, as well as a person that gets the job done. He likes to work hard, and myself, I was more of a scrappier, take-chance defensive player, where he’s a more sound defensive player.” (desnews)

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