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Matthews leaving Fairfield

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Junior forward Keith Matthews has decided to transfer from Fairfield University and is likely headed back to his native Florida to finish his collegiate career for family reasons, according to a source close to the program.

Head coach Sydney Johnson was expected to announce Matthews decision to the team Tuesday afternoon. No specific school was tied to Matthews’ future plans.

Matthews finished with 5.1 points and 3.0 rebounds this past season in 35 games, including 21 starts. However, after a strong start to the season – which included a 17-point, 10-rebound outing against Lehigh – Matthews production and playing time fell off during MAAC play.

With Matthews, departure the Stags will have only one senior next season, forward Maurice Barrow. It also means Barrow is the lone Ed Cooley recruit remaining on the roster with seniors Derek Needham, Colin Nickerson and two-year player Desmond Wade closing out their Fairfield careers last month in a CIT loss at Kent State.

Johnson already had one scholarship left for next, which he hoped to fill with a point guard, but with Matthews leaving, there are now  two spots to fill.

The Stags, who played five freshmen frequently this past season, already have three freshmen coming in with guards Lincoln Coleman (prep school) and Doug Chappell (Episcopal High in Va.) and  forward  Steve Smith (LaSalle High in Penn.). Also, 6-10 center Malcolm Gilbert (Pittsburgh), who current won’t be eligible until December pending an NCAA ruling,  and guard Sean Grennan (Seton Hall) are also in the mix.

SCHEDULING: In addition to looking for a few more players, the Stags are in need of  more games for next season. Already on the slate are 20 MAAC games – with the conference growing to 11 teams with Quinnipiac and Monmouth coming in – along with the Connecticut 6 (Sacred Heart), a trip to Providence and a game with Bucknell (site unset). The Stags are also playing in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, which includes home games against Hartford and Holy Cross along with meeting Louisville at the Mohegan Sun along with either North Carolina or Richmond.

William Paxton

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