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September 29, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Matisse Thybulle commits to Washington

Eastside Catholic wing Matisse Thybulle announced his commitment to Washington on Monday via Twitter.

Eastside Catholic's Matisse Thybulle looks for an opening as he drives down the lane in a regional game at Bellevue College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Eastside Catholic, who doubled Timberline's score to win 80-40, will advance to the state tournament next week in Tacoma. Photo by Lindsey Wasson.

Eastside Catholic’s Matisse Thybulle looks for an opening as he drives down the lane in a regional game at Bellevue College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Eastside Catholic, who doubled Timberline’s score to win 80-40, will advance to the state tournament next week in Tacoma. Photo by Lindsey Wasson.

The 6-foot-6 senior is considered a four-star prospect by Scout.com and visited California, Oregon and Gonzaga. Thybulle made an official visit to Washington this past weekend. He told Percy Allen of The Seattle Times that he narrowed it down it Washington and Gonzaga before making his final decision.

Percy provides the story on Thybulle’s commitment, and has this transcript from an interview:

(Before we get to the big announcement, how has the past month been? It’s seemed like a whirlwind in terms of your four visits to California, Oregon, Gonzaga and Washington.) “The past month got a little stressful for a little bit just because I was still considering all four schools and had them coming over to see me every week and calling me every night. It just began to be a little much. After I narrowed it down to UW and Gonzaga it definitely slowed down and gave me time to think and better analyze the situation and what I want to do. That helped a lot. Really I’ve just for the past week or so I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of each school.”

(Has it been like anything else you’ve ever gone through?) “No not at all. Not even close.”

(How would you describe it?) “It’s different. It definitely wasn’t what I expected it to be. It’s a lot. Your phone will be on a whole other level. It’s just ringing non-stop. You constantly have someone to talk to and someone asking you questions or trying to pressure you  into making some sort of decision. Then also a lot of other people want to give you their opinion, but you just have to remember to do what’s best for you and your family and not what someone else thinks you should be doing.”

(What do you  say to some folks who might ask what’s the stress with two wonderful schools vying to give you a full-ride scholarship to play basketball?) “It’s stressful because they are such great schools and I don’t want to make a mistake and go to one and I could have had more success at another. On top of all of that, the people that you let down. There’s no way you’re going to please everyone at the end. At the end of the day, you’re going to have some people that are unhappy with whatever decision you make. Just weighing everything that comes into it in terms of people telling you they want you to go here. The coach calling you and saying blah, blah, blah. Then the other coach calling you. It kind of turns into a war-zone of who can say the right thing to convince you to go to their school. And having be bombarded by the constant questions and things from other school can get a little stressful if you don’t slow down and just let the situation come to you instead of trying to analyze every little thing.”

(I heard there were four teams at the start so what was the criteria in narrowing it down to two?) “I was looking for a school that would have a campus, a team, a coaching staff, a culture and academics that I liked. For me, I felt like UW and Gonzaga fit those the best. Honestly so did Cal. But for me the risk of going in with a coaching staff that would be just as new as I am, I just wasn’t willing to make that sort of risk. So that made it so I couldn’t go there and that knocked them off the list. And then Oregon, it just didn’t click with me. It didn’t feel like … I didn’t feel the connection with the school or the team or the coaching staff like I did with the other schools. But they still have a beautiful campus and facilities and all of that. But it just didn’t seem like the right fit for me.”

(So you save your last two visits for Gonzaga and Washington. What were you looking for?)“For me I wanted to see Gonzaga because I’d done an unofficial (trip) to Washington at the beginning of summer. I wanted to see how Gonzaga stacked up  against that. For me they really stacked up really well. There’s nothing that I found that would be a knock against them or made me not want to go there. Well, actually I take that back. The one thing that I would say I didn’t like about Gonzaga was the WCC (West Coast Conference). But other than that, at Washington the opportunities with basketball and outside of basketball were just … I couldn’t really compare them and that was the deciding factor.”

(I haven’t asked you the big question, but I got an idea what the answer is now. So after your visit to Washington this weekend what did you decide?) “I’m going to go to the University of Washington.”

(What finally sealed the deal with the Huskies?) “Just seeing the team and how coach (Lorenzo) Romar interacts with them. That was really cool. Also just really realizing that they have some talented guys on that team. And if I had the opportunity for them to still be around when it’s my time to be there – just competing with them and being able to compete with them everyday in practice and go with them and compete with some more NBA players throughout the Pac-12 – I just want to see how I can become the best player that I can be. … I see me taking basketball to a whole other level being able to compete with players of that level of play.”

(Was this a decision that you knew months and weeks ago or was this something you realized today or last night?) “That’s a hard question. I’ve always rooted for the Huskies. Like that’s been the team that I’ve been closest to. I’ve been to the football games, I’ve been to the basketball games since I was young. But I’ve always just knew the most about them. So I guess that’s what made them most appealing. But when I started getting calls from these other schools, I sat back and thought to myself what might these schools have to offer that I would like or even possibly like better than Washington. And getting the chance to go see them and what they had, I opened my eyes to all of these different opportunities and options. But at the end of the day, I still felt safest and most at home at the University of Washington.”

(You probably know the 2015 class you’re joining is considered one of the best ever at Washington. What are your thoughts on the guys that have verbally committed to the Huskies?) “Well Baby Boy or Dejounte Murray I played with home the whole summer and I played against him last year. I know his game pretty well and I think that he’s easily one of the best players in Washington. I think that was another part. I wanted to go play with him and compete with him day in and day out to help push me and push each other to get better. I think that he’ll be able to come and make a huge impact on that team. David Crisp I played against him last year. He can shoot like crazy. This guy, he can just shoot. I think he’ll be a really good point guard/combo guard type fit for Washington. He can run. He can push the ball and advance the ball on the break and things like that. Then the last one Malik Dime I really haven’t seen other than his mixed tape, but he just seems like an athletic, quick, light-on-his-feet big man who is pretty solid. In terms of big men, it seems like he’s got the footwork. He’s definitely got the athleticism and he seems like he’s a pretty smart basketball player.”

(You didn’t mention Marquese Chriss. Is he still in the class?) “Oh yeah. I forgot. I never met Marquese Chriss. I think I saw his video. If I’m not wrong he’s like a really long, 6-8 and athletic. Like a four-type guy. I’m not to sure. That’s the one recruit that I don’t know that well.”

(And you mentioned Malik Dime. Did he say he’s going to commit to UW?) “No, but he seemed like he really enjoyed his time while he was there.”

(How do you fit in with those guys?) “I think I fit in well because I’m another one of these long athletic wings. I think that with all of us running the break, all of the options and possibilities, that’s something that will be hard to guard or stop and contain us. There’s no saying what we could do with all of our athleticism and ability.”

(For folks who haven’t seen you play – and by the way you need a mixed tape – how would you describe your game?) “I would say I’m an athletic wing. I’ll hit the open shot. I’ll attack the basket. I feel like I’m a pretty good passer. And just if anyone is in my way I’m going to try to dunk on them every opportunity that I get.”

(You probably heard this before, but now that you picked Washington it would seem you’re going to draw the Justin Holiday comparison. Is it fair and accurate?) “I don’t really remember. I never really got an opportunity to see him play that much. Coach Romar showed me videos of the guys and from what I’ve seen, Justin Holiday has a pretty good game. He was just a defensive monster. I like to think I can play defense just as good if not better than him. I don’t know what he was like on offense, but I want to be one a prolific scorer and just attack and be someone that teams have to worry about on the offensive end. And at the same time be worried that they’re not going to turn the ball over when I get you on the defensive end. So I guess you can compare me to him a little bit, but I don’t know.”

(I’ve watched your career, but some might say this kid came out of nowhere. How has the past year or two been from your perspective? Have you seen exponential growth in your game?) “I definitely have. I think I’ve seen it the most this past summer compared to any. Playing in the EYBL pushed me to be more of an all-around, aggressive player and having to play every possession. Just play hard day in and day out. That just forced me to become a player that I wasn’t and changed my mentality to just kill. And just be an assassin and try and find any opportunity that I can to capitalize and score and get a steal or get a stop. I would say that this past summer, I’ve probably (grown) the most out of any.”

(What are you going to study at Washington?) “I would like to study sports marketing/sports agency. I might want to do something along those lines of being an agent.”

(After making this announcement, I would think some things will change for you as in how other high school teams will play you, defend you and your relationship with your teammates. How do you anticipate things will change and how are you going to handle that?) “If my name is associated with a big-name school like Washington they’re going to want to prove to everyone else that hey maybe this kid isn’t all that he’s stacked up to be. Like if I can hang with this kid, then maybe I should be going there too. Just things like that. So I’m going to have to definitely bring my A-game every game and just show that Washington made the right decision recruiting me and I made the right decision in deciding on Washington. And then in terms of my teammates, I love my team. We got a group that’s one of the greatest guys. I know that throughout this whole process, they’ve been really supportive of me and just constantly making sure that I’m doing OK or asking how I’m doing during the whole process. I think that a lot of them will be really excited to hear that I’ve finally made my decision. They’re just ready to see what we can do this season.”

(Last year Eastside Catholic made it to the state title, but lost to Rainier Beach. What’s the goal for this upcoming season?) “The goal for this season is to do what we did last year and hopefully do it at a whole another level. I want Eastside Catholic to have the best season we can possibly have. A lot of us are seniors and this is going to be our last high school basketball season and I want us to be able to go out there and play our hardest and hopefully we get to see how far that takes us. And hopefully that takes us to the state championship.”

(Last thing, who has helped you through this process and who are the people that you would like to thank?) “I definitely want to thank my family just because they’ve been there for me through this whole time and been nothing but supportive. What I really appreciate from them is that they let this be my decision and they didn’t try to influence me or anything like that. And that goes for everyone who has been there for me whether it be my coach (Bill) Liley or one of my AAU coachesMitch Johnson who has been there a lot for me. All of those guys that have been there who tried to help me and guide me through this process, but at the same time they weren’t trying to guide me to a specific school. They were just trying to guide me and give me information for me to make the best decision for myself.”

Comments | More in Boys basketball | Topics: Eastside Catholic, football, Matisse Thybulle

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