Purdue’s Dakota Mathias came to the Portsmouth Invitational as one of the most intriguing players from an NBA perspective. Yet through two games he had the lowest scoring average on his team.
At events like the PIT the best players tend to separate themselves from the competition, but Mathias — who’s averaging 9.5 points for Norfolk Sports Club — has more or less blended in during his time in Virginia.
However, the 6-foot-4, 200 pound guard isn’t concerned about his play. Nor should he be. The reason why scouts like him so much is for his ability to fit in, which Mathias has done this week by defending, making the right pass and hitting timely shots.
“You don’t have to go out here and force up shots and take bad ones,” Mathias told NBA Draft News Friday. “Just do all the little things: play defense, dive for loose balls, and make the right play. That’s what I do and that’s what leads to winning.”
In 54 minutes of play, Mathias has more points (19) than shot attempts (16) and has committed just two turnovers. He has also shown the ability to score in the pick-and-roll and make plays off screens. Both of those things were already apparent on tape; but now he’s showing that his IQ and skillset translate to the next level as well.
Scouts also like that he made noticeable improvement every year he was in college. Mathias said he’s already met with eight or nine teams at the PIT.
“That’s what [scouts] want to see. Just steady improvement,” Mathias said. “That’s what I was able to do at Purdue my four years. Just continue to show that, show the numbers and the efficiency, and go from there.”
Mathias isn’t resting on his college numbers in Portsmouth, but instead playing the way he did to get here. On Friday, he looked completely fine taking a backseat before he briefly took control two minutes after the opposing grabbed a two-point lead. Mathias hit back-to-back threes to push his team’s six-point lead to 12 with nine minutes to go, a comfortable enough margin for him to revert back into a supporting role. His second three in the sequence came in transition after he grabbed a rebound and pushed it up the floor himself.
The end result: Norfolk Sports Club, bounced back from a loss Wednesday to beat Roger Brown’s 114-112.
“Obviously everyone wants to shoot a little more; it’s tough sometimes, but you never want to force anything or play out of rhythm,” Mathias said. “We won the game.”
That’s the bottom line to Mathias and why NBA teams remain high on him even after two fairly nondescript performances.
Other early afternoon standouts:
Yante Maten, Georgia PF
Thomas Wilder, Western Michigan PG
AJ Davis, UCF SF/PF
Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall SF
Johnathan Williams. Gonzaga PF/C