After a year of action in the competitive Canada West men’s basketball league, the UBC Okanagan Heat know that players with size and athleticism is a valuable commodity, as such the Heat will welcome Matt Matear to bolster the team’s front line next season.
As a 6’5”, 210-pound forward on the Alberta 4A boys number two-ranked Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats, Matear has been able to use his size and athleticism to punish opponents while helping his team to a perfect 10-0 record in Calgary city league play.
Matear also won numerous all-stars and MVP’s along the way.
“I can easily push bodies around at the high school level,” says Matear. “I can get to the rim and rise above guys who are 6’8 - 6’9, but who have less weight and less muscle than I do, it (size and athleticism) really helps my game in terms of being able to finish while getting fouled.”
Matear has been on the radar of Heat basketball coach Darren Semeniuk for some time.
“I have been watching Matt play since his Grade 11 year, and I’ve always been impressed with his game. He is a physical player that loves competitive situations. I don’t see Matt backing down from anyone, and this trait is going to be extremely valuable to our team as we try to establish ourselves in this league,” says Semeniuk. “That’s why this is such a huge recruit for us, and I couldn’t be happier that he has committed to play at UBC Okanagan.”
Matear will enter the Faculty of Management in the fall as he feels it will be a good fit for him, and he likes the ability to take his education in different directions.
“It’s a broad faculty where I can branch off a lot,” says Matear.
Matear had to choose between UBC and UBC Okanagan, with the Okanagan campus winning out because he “felt like UBC Okanagan was 10 times more comfortable (on his recruitment visit). The environment and the atmosphere there was so welcoming so warming, everybody welcomed me in, I think as a person as well as a basketball player I’m going to have the best experience at UBC Okanagan.”
For the Heat next year, Matear will have to fight for playing time with two of the first-year forwards from this year’s squad in Ben Hindson (6’9”, Naramata, BC) and Julian Asselstine (6’8”, Coquitlam, BC). All three will likely see a spike in playing time with the graduation of Simon Pelland (N. Vancouver, BC) and Steve Morrison (N. Vancouver, BC).
“What I hope to bring to the Heat next year is speed at the position I’ll be playing, which is most likely a three or four,” guesses Matear. “Being undersized to play a four I think my speed and my broadness will help my game a lot, and with the Heat I think I’ll be a big help down low in terms of adding some size.”
“I see Matt helping in all sorts of areas, he is that versatile,” says Semeniuk. “Not only will he push Ben and Julian, but his athleticism will have him fight for playing time on the wing with the likes of Mack Roth (Port Coquitlam, BC) who will be in his third year and Ryan Fahandeg (Kelowna, BC) who is returning after sitting out a year from Fraser Valley and will be in his fourth.”
Kurt Luttmerding, head coach at O’Byrne, is happy is three-year senior is moving on and thinks UBC Okanagan has a gem in the making.
“The Bobcats are very proud of Matt and the success he has had the past 3 years. He is the best player to come out of Bishop O`Byrne so far (school 11 years old) and easily the most heavily recruited. He is the captain of our team and is averaging 21 points 12 rebounds and 1.7 dunks per game. His game is all about explosive power; he often will pull down a defensive rebound and go all the way down the court to finish above the rim. The Heat are receiving a great leader, fierce competitor and very exciting dynamic basketball player,” says Lettmerding.
Semeniuk says Matear is a “great signing for the Heat and the quality of athlete and student that he is, shows that we are building a strong program here at UBC Okanagan.”