basketball Edit

Better Know a Badger: Three-Star Forward Matthew Mors

Most of Wisconsin's 2021 class -- both for the football and men's basketball programs -- will be heading to Madison shortly, though Paul Chryst's team already welcomed seven players as mid-year enrollees in January.

BadgerBlitz.com has kicked off its annual "Better Know a Badger" series, where we check in with the incoming freshmen as they begin the transition from being prep standouts to college athletes. In 2021, we include some transfers as well.

Miss some? Check out the links below: Basketball: C Chris Vogt | G Isaac Lindsey | F Chris Hodges |

Football: QB Deacon Hill | CB Ricardo Hallman | WR Skyler Bell | S Hunter Wohler | ILB Bryan Sanborn | OL Nolan Rucci | RB Antwan Roberts | OLB Ayo Adebogun | OLB Darryl Peterson | WR Markus Allen | DE Isaac Townsend | RB Braelon Allen |

Matthew Mors was one of three 2021 signees to commit early to Greg Gard's program for that particular recruiting cycle, initially announcing his decision in late September of 2019. The three-star forward finished his prep career with many accolades and awards added to his resume. He officially signed with the Badgers in November 2020.

Mors spoke with BadgerBlitz.com on May 31 about a variety of topics as he now makes Madison home. Questions and his answers have been edited for clarity.

I've seen some of the accolades that you've received not just this past year, but from seasons before, but how did your senior season go for you, from your perspective?

MM: I think overall, it was a really, really good season. Although it didn't end the way we wanted to, we were ultimately going for that state title but came out just a little bit short. We lost in the semifinal game. Then in South Dakota, we get to play out the rest of the places, so we played for third place, and we won that game, so I ended my career with a win. It was just so fun, and it was crazy how fast the season went because to start the year, we were just super excited that we were even getting the opportunity to play. Then once that opportunity came and we realized that we were playing, then it was just alright, we're gonna go and get the state title.

During the year, it was the most wins we've had in the season since the '70s. I think just as a whole, we have nothing to hold our head low about. We can just keep our heads high and be proud of what we've done as a program and as a senior class.

So what exactly is the feeling, playing six years of high school basketball?

MM: I feel like an old man by the end of it. It was crazy. Like in sixth grade, between sixth and seventh, I started doing open gyms and playing with the varsity guys and went to a couple team camps with them, and I just played really well.

Something cool about that situation, too, is that the seniors who were on that team, I kind of had a relationship with them, but they came up to the coach, Coach Haynes, and they were asking if I could be brought up just to play with them. And they thought I'd help them out for their senior year.

So once that happened, then a little seventh grader, I was 13 years old and playing against a whole bunch of guys who were 18 and had beards. It was just crazy, especially the first year. It was such a big learning curve, but I think I picked up on some things fast. By the time my eighth grade year rolled around, then I just had grown so much and learned so much that I knew I wanted to take my game to a whole 'nother level. And then I think that's where I just put in more work than I ever had, and the rewards began to pay off.

I mentioned before, we've seen your prep accolades. Is there one that stands out the most to you right now?

MM: I'd like to say the state title we won my freshman year. I mean, nothing's gonna top that like as a team and stuff.

But the "Spirit of Su" award, that's just something given in South Dakota, and that's pretty special to everyone here. I know as a little kid, I always hoped to get that and so getting that and then the Gatorade Player of the Year. I think that's yet to come out this year, but those are a couple of my favorite ones. But obviously can't thank my coaches and teammates and everyone along the way enough because obviously can't get there without them.

What areas within the past year do you feel that you've grown more in your game?

MM: Quite honestly, I think the maturity and the leadership. That was probably the biggest standout just with this group because we were really young here, and back home in Yankton, we had a lot of young guys with not a whole lot of experience. So just being able to be there with them and help them out.

Like myself personally on the court with the basketball stuff, I think just continuing to improve just on everything. And I think something that really stood out this year was my mid-range game. I have been working on that pretty hard, and I just think that that in itself kind of stood out maybe a little bit more than the others.

How are you preparing physically for your arrival at Wisconsin as a college basketball player?

MM: We have a trainer here, Mark Roozen, and I've been working with him since I was in seventh grade. He works with our basketball team. He started doing that my freshman year, and so been working with him fall, winter, spring summer, the whole six years. So now I'm going one-on-one with him.

He was a former Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns strength and conditioning coach, and so we just have been working really, really hard, just getting me as physically ready. Working on the conditioning aspect of it, too. Just making sure I'm as ready as I can be when I step foot on campus.

Where are you sitting at right now for height and weight? 

MM: 6-foot-7 and 225, 230 [pounds]. So I'm feeling really comfortable, and I don't know, I'm just all healthy, and everything's all good.

Who is the best player you've gone against to this day?

MM: That's a tough one because when I was an eighth grader, Matt Cartwright, he was really, really good, and he went to Augustana and he played. Played some pretty tough competition on the AAU circuit. But I'd say Dawson Garcia from Marquette. I think he was probably the best guy I've ever played against.

You signed in November during the early signing period, but which schools if any tried to keep in contact or tried to recruit you from the time you committed to Wisconsin until you put your signature on that dotted line for your National Letter of Intent?

MM: Since I committed -- that summer, I was cutting down my list and I kept that kind of quiet. So just one-by-one, I was telling schools, 'Hey, I narrowed my list, and unfortunately, you and the school are not a part of that.'

So I didn't have any colleges that were continuing to talk to me once I committed to Wisconsin. There was nobody after that. The last two schools that I was in contact with before committing to Wisconsin were Creighton and Iowa. About a couple days before I committed to Wisconsin, I kind of knew, kind of had a little plan that I was just going to commit that weekend, and so it was all set up. And no one ever talked to me from when I committed until I signed so just fortunate for that.

Looking at what's ahead to Wisconsin, how often have you been in contact with the Wisconsin staff with your arrival on campus coming soon, and who are you talking with the most?

MM: I'd say it's been weekly, if not more often than that, just constantly asking questions. Coach Gard has been in contact with us, just sending out information and stuff. Before Brad [Davison] made his decision to come back, he gave me a call the night before just to let me know early. I thought that was pretty special just because he knows what's really important, and doing that was pretty special. Then I was talking with some of the guys in my class, but then my roommate, Chucky [Hepburn], we talk all the time. We text, Snapchat, do all that sort of thing, so pretty, pretty in contact with everybody.

Is there an assistant that you've maybe been in contact with the most? Have you had a chance to even talk with Coach Shariff Chambliss yet, the new assistant coach?

MM: Yeah. I talked to him last night, actually. So he just wanted to reach out to all the guys and introduce himself and just let us know that we got to be ready to work and get after it day one. So we FaceTimed last night, and he showed the little boys [Chambliss's two sons, Julian and Kellen] to me and so met him.

Coach [Joe] Krabbenhoft, he has probably been the main assistant or main recruiter for me at Wisconsin. We started talking in probably between my seventh and eighth grade year. Just like phone calls every other week or something like that, and then gradually to a point where it's every week and pretty constant and constant texts and stuff. But I think Coach Krab and I have a really cool relationship just because he's a South Dakota native. I'm a South Dakota native, and we just kind of have that Dakota bond I guess.

Has Wisconsin and the staff discussed further how they would like to use you on both ends of the floor?

MM: The thing that they preach to me is that just there's going to be some spots that are wide open and, obviously, nothing is going to be given to me or given to anybody, but I'm just gonna have to earn everything. They have told me that they see me playing anywhere from a 2 to a 4, and then being able to guard the same positions -- probably 2, 3, 4 as well. Just coming in, and hopefully I can help the team and make an impact here right away.

On that note, what do you feel that your strengths will be and what you can bring to Wisconsin when you're on the floor?

MM: I just think I'm a winner. I'm a team-first player, and I'll just do whatever it takes to help the team win, whether that's coming off the bench, whether that's starting, whatever it may be. Just doing my part and do my role, but I think personally, I bring a fire and a competitiveness. Just a versatile player offensively and just being able to pass and shoot and rebound and do all that sort of thing, but then be able to compete on the defensive end as well.

When's the official move-in date for you and who are you rooming with from the class of 2021?

MM: We're looking at moving in June 11, and then I will be rooming with Chucky Hepburn, so we're pretty excited about that.

How has that bond grown between not just you and Chucky, but the other 2021 enrollees as well?

MM: Chucky and I, he grew up in Omaha, obviously, and so we never actually played against each other, but we watched each other's games and just followed each other in what we were doing. We were in contact through social media and whatnot. But then once we were talking to some of the same schools, and especially Wisconsin, and then being on that visit together, I think that's just grown us even closer.

Then he actually made a trip with his mom to our state tournament, which was an eight-hour drive for them, so I thought that was pretty special. We talk like every day, and we're super close. Then Markus [Ilver] and Chris [Hodges], we're just in contact -- like group texts, Snapchat, and that sort of thing. But just getting to know each other a little bit before we actually step foot on campus is pretty big, I think.

What are some areas that you feel that you're gonna see yourself improving once you get up to Madison?

MM: I think a lot to do with my body and my build, and I know that Wisconsin's gonna build me up and get me ready to play and compete at the Big Ten level, and so I think that'll be one of the biggest improvements. But then from there, just like fine tuning the ball handling and the shooting and just all the little things. Just putting that all together, and hopefully, by the time the season rolls around, then I mean we're definitely going to be seeing the best version of all of us out there.

What are your goals for your freshman year then?

MM: My goals are to help contribute to the team, and I think if I do everything right and do everything that I need to I can do this straight away. But if not, just helping the guys out and doing whatever we can to win basketball games, and that's really what it's all about. Just keep the Wisconsin tradition alive and keep working to get Ws because that's the biggest thing in basketball.