The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program has long been considered the favorite to land Matthew Mors, and the standout from South Dakota made it official Sunday.
Mors, a 6-foot-7 forward, orally committed to the Badgers after completing an official visit to campus over the weekend. He announced his commitment not long after his close friend Chucky Hepburn, a 6-1 point guard from Nebraska, committed to UW.
The two join a 2021 class that already included Chris Hodges, a 6-7 forward from Illinois.
Mors, who also had offers from Iowa, Nebraska, Iowa State, Creighton, Colorado and TCU, averaged 23 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists as a sophomore last season at Yankton High School.
“I think the thing that really sticks out with Matthew — and we’ve told people this going on five years now — obviously he has some God-given talent and ability that a lot of kids don’t have. I think what really separates him is he’s a good kid and a hard worker and the intangibles are something that are really going to help him at the next level and as he continues his basketball career,” Yankton coach Chris Haynes said. “His high IQ, his ability to pass the ball, understand the game, he’s a selfless player. He really wants to win first and all those things you’d want in a great player.”
South Dakota rules allow players to play varsity basketball starting in the seventh grade, and that’s when Mors was moved up to that level as a 6-4, 225-pound 13-year-old.
He was honorable mention All-State as an eighth-grader and first team the past two seasons. Yankton won a state title when Mors was a freshman and advanced to the state semifinals in 2018-19.
“We thought it was the best thing for him to play with guys who would push him and make him better,” Haynes said of Mors’ early move to the varsity level. “I think as we look back on it, bringing him up and having him play varsity basketball was the best thing for him just because he was able to develop at a faster rate than if we would not have done that.”
Haynes said people in Yankton, which is on the South Dakota-Nebraska border, have thought for a while that Mors had a chance to play at the Division I level.
“Obviously, you don’t know for sure how guys are going to grow and how they’re going to develop,” Haynes said. “The other thing that I think is a testament to his work ethic and character is that he’s had a lot of success from a young age and one of our concerns was that maybe he’d plateau or stop working as hard and not get the most out of his ability. Because, let’s be honest, you see that over and over and over again with young kids who are really good at a young age. Sometimes, they plateau off or level off and Matthew hasn’t done that. He’s continued to work hard.
“He really wants to be a good basketball player. You can see that as his game has developed every year. He’s gotten better. I think the last thing is his body continues to develop. That’s just him getting older, maturing as a young man, but he’s also worked really, really hard to get his body where it’s at today and his athleticism continues to get better. His quickness, his strength, his explosion. All those things continue to develop right along with his basketball game.”
UW will have three upperclassmen in its frontcourt this season, so adding some big bodies in the 2020 and 2021 classes was a major priority. The Badgers have done that by getting a commitment from Hodges in mid-August, landing Steven Crowl and Ben Carlson earlier this month to complete the 2021 class and now adding Mors to the mix.
Haynes said it will be interesting to see what position Mors plays in college.
“I think that’s the biggest question on him going to the next level is his footwork and can he stay in front of people that he’s going to need to guard,” Haynes said prior to Mors’ commitment to UW. “Some of that is a system thing, where he ends up, what school he goes to and what are they going to ask him to do? But the other thing is, I think Matthew’s a very smart player, he’s a tough player. He’ll get the most out of his ability as far as being able to do that.
“I think he’s going to continue to develop in his footwork and his quickness and his lateral movement. But I don’t think there’s any question that is the biggest question for him going into the next level is, is he going to be able to guard the 2s and the 3s at the next level or is he going to have to guard 4s or where’s going to fall in that.”