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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Top prospect, Matt Simpkins, chooses Tigers

Top prospect chooses Tigers

By Dan Wolken
Sunday, January 6, 2008

One of the few remaining top-50 players in the 2008 recruiting class said Saturday he wants to play for the University of Memphis.

Matt Simpkins, a 6-9 forward from Oakland, Calif., told The Commercial Appeal he has chosen Memphis over California and Washington, giving the Tigers another elite frontcourt player for next season to go along with Angel Garcia of East Chicago, Ind.

Simpkins, who plays at The Patterson School in Patterson, N.C., visited the Memphis campus this weekend with his mother, Tanya Brown, and decided to verbally commit to coach John Calipari after watching the Tigers' 90-53 victory over Pepperdine.

"It's been great so far; I'm getting along with the guys, the coaches," Simpkins said. "It seems like a perfect fit for me.

"The game was very different from watching them on TV, just being in the atmosphere with the home crowd, and the coaches were saying that wasn't even one of their packed games, but it was almost filled. It was crazy."

Though Simpkins described himself as a wing/power forward with good skills, he could also help Memphis fill the hole inside left by senior Joey Dorsey next season. Simpkins is 215 pounds already, and he has room to grow.

"I haven't even really developed my whole strength and muscle, but coming here will get me physically ready for the next level," he said.

Landing Simpkins is a huge development for Memphis, which had to absorb a blow last summer when twin forwards Marcus and Markeiff Morris of Philadelphia de-committed and ultimately decided to sign with Kansas.

Instead of the twins, who are ranked 37th and 72nd by, the Tigers apparently will end up with Garcia and Simpkins, ranked 27th and 47th, respectively. Memphis is also looking at guards, primarily Tyreke Evans, a top-5 player whose future has been clouded somewhat by legal issues related to a murder he may have witnessed near Philadelphia.

Under NCAA rules, Calipari can't comment on recruits who have not signed. Simpkins won't be able to sign a letter-of-intent until the spring period in April.

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