After every home game for the Rutgers men’s basketball team, Montez Mathis joins his teammates in the locker room underneath the RAC in Piscataway, N.J., for their postgame meeting with the coaching staff. And once those meetings end, the freshman guard is back out on the court greeting young fans, signing autographs and posing for photos.
Mathis, a Baltimore native and John Carroll graduate, could head into the showers and go home. But he remembers a time when he attended Lake Clifton games and followed former standouts such as Will Barton, who went to Memphis and plays for the Denver Nuggets, and Josh Selby, a cousin who attended Kansas and played for the Memphis Grizzlies.
“They write me a lot and all that,” Mathis said of the youth at Scarlet Knights games. “They just tell me that they’re going to be at the games and all that. So I just try to make sure that I get a chance to see them after the game and talk to them a little bit because I know that will probably make their day. It made my day when I was younger and used to go to college and high school games and I looked up to older guys and they gave me pictures and stuff. I just want to do the same.”
Mathis’ fan club has been growing since he arrived at Rutgers. After coming off the bench for the first eight games of the season, Mathis has started in the last 22 games and has played 23.2 minutes per game, which ranks third on the team.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Mathis also ranks third among the Scarlet Knights (14-16 overall and 7-13 in the Big Ten) this winter in scoring at 8.7 points per game, double-digit outputs at 13, and games in which he led the team in that category at six. He also ranks second in dunks at 14, is tied for third in steals at 21, and ranks fourth in assists at 32.