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E.C. Matthews, URI seniors have left their mark

E.C. Matthews (Photo Credit: Alan Hubbard)

Things probably didn’t go as planned for URI redshirt senior E.C. Matthews. A torn ACL just minutes into his junior season in 2015 and a fractured wrist in the second game of the 2017-18 season definitely were not on the horizon when Matthews arrived in Kingston in 2013. However, five years since his arrival, Matthews has been an instrumental part of what has become a new brand of Rhode Island men’s basketball.

If you look up into the rafters of the Ryan Center there are just two retired numbers of former Rhode Island Rams. One is the legendary Sly William’s No. 35 and the other belongs to the Rhode Island women’s basketball program’s highest career scorer Michelle Washington, who wore No. 10.

The Rhode Island athletic department historically has not been one to retire numbers. Hence why greats like Jimmy Baron, Tyson Wheeler, Carlton Owens, Cutino Mobley, amongst other important Rams don’t have their jersey numbers retired. But, if Rhode Island did casually retire numbers Matthews’ number 0 would be hanging high above the court.

Jarvis Garrett (Photo Credit: Alan Hubbard)

The state of the program now is strong and it started with Matthews buying into the vision that Dan Hurley recruited him on. Matthews, along with Hassan Martin, are the foundation to what has become the new brand of Rhode Island men’s basketball. The new culture, results, Atlantic 10 Championships, etc. all start with Matthews. Matthews was the first domino to fall for Hurley’s vision to become a reality. After Matthews came Jarvis Garrett and Jared Terrell, then transfers like Andre Berry and Stanford Robinson. And now, the Matthews effect has trickled down to Rhode Island landing top recruiting classes nationally.

With the Rams last two home games upcoming over the next week I have begun to reflect on the career of all five seniors. I’ll miss watching the likes of Matthews, Garrett, Terrell, Robinson and Berry. All five are different. Some played the same position but each brought their own swagger to the court. From Garrett’s mask to Berry’s 7-7 perfect shooting performance at Dayton in 2016, to Terrell and Robinson’s game winners this season, these student athletes have been my first taste of a college basketball team that’s mine.

It is one thing to cheer for a professional sports team that you’re just a fan of but to see the name of your school striped across the chest of other students that are on SportsCenter or in the AP Poll getting national recognition, you can’t help but feel proud. Their success has become mine.

All five seniors have had notable success at URI but perhaps the most impressive is having two active players in the top echelon of the program’s career scoring. Both Matthews and Terrell are in the top 15 in scoring in the history of URI basketball. Matthew (1,765 career points) is currently tied with Jimmy Baron for fifth all-time and 12 points behind Sly Williams (1,777 career points), who is fourth all-time. Terrell is currently 12th all-time with 1,625 career points. He stands just 99 points back from Kenny Green with 1,724 career points who is 10th all-time. I’d say that’s some pretty good company. If all goes according to plan the Rams could enter the NCAA Tournament with two active players in the top 10.

Matthews, Terrell and the other three seniors are down to the home stretch of their college careers. URI will square off against the Dayton Flyers on Friday night at the Ryan Center in a game in which victory assures them sole possession of the school’s first regular season A-10 title in their history. On Tuesday night the Rams host St. Joe’s for their final home game of the season. Everything that Matthews helped build and the other seniors bought into without concrete proof has been present and in existence all year. A fanbase, new culture, banners and URI’s first Atlantic 10 regular season championship is all there.

Their numbers may not hang from the rafters but on Tuesday night I expect it to be a little dusty in the Ryan Center as we see the first dominoes to fall play their last game. Fans, students and the University of Rhode Island will remember these seniors. That makes it all worth it.

Stone Freeman is a URI Junior Journalism major and rabid Rams fan. He calls URI’s home games on both YurView and URI student radio station WRIU 90.3 FM.