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Ohio sharpshooter finds right fit at Purdue

Purdue coach Matt Painter talked at length at the end of the season about needing "skill guys," players who can shoot the ball well and open up space on the floor.

He got one of them Sunday.

The Boilermakers notched their first 2014 basketball commitment: Dakota Mathias, a 6-4 shooting guard out of Elida, Ohio. Mathias played in the Spiece Run-n-Slam over the weekend and showed off his shooting, ball-handling and passing abilities.

"According to the coaches, I'm a very big need," Mathias said. "They want guys with some skill, some high-IQ guys. I think I bring that: a little versatility, can shoot it a little bit and pass the ball, just make smart decisions."

The sharpshooter had games of 36 and 28 points during the latter part of the tournament while playing with the Northwest Ohio Basketball Club 17-and-under team. A commitment to Purdue sat in the back of his mind throughout the tournament as media members asked him about his recruitment several times.

On the ride home after a loss in the final four of the tournament, he spoke with his parents and made the decision by the time he got home.

"I had a really good feeling about it, but I just wanted to see a few more campuses and things," Mathias said. "But after thinking about it some more, I just told my dad I just think it's the right fit, and I don't see any reason to hold out any longer. … I think it's going to be a perfect situation."

Mathias is unranked by Rivals.com and Scout.com, but ESPN.com analyst Dave Telep, a respected recruiting authority, said the guard "was one of my favorite guys to watch" on his Twitter account after the commitment news broke.

Butler, Dayton, Boston College and West Virginia were among the other suitors for Mathias. With his commitment out of the way, he hopes to focus on the steady improvement that made him an attractive option for Purdue.

That progress will come with his AAU squad throughout the remainder of the spring and summer, as well as his senior season with Elida High School before starting his career in West Lafayette. "It's a lot of time to work on some individual things, keep improving my skills and get in the weight room a little bit," he said. "I'll just go from there."

smorrison@jg.net

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