Yahoo recently published a profile of AJ Matthews, Farmingdale State center and favorite for Division III player of the year. It shouldn't be surprising that he's kicking ass at Farmingdale State—he's 7-1 and athletic, a late-comer to basketball but also the recipient of a good deal of coaching since he took up the sport during his sophomore year of high school, and determined to reach the NBA. He might just get there, too. For the first time since anyone can remember, NBA scouts are showing up at the Farmingdale State gym, meaningfully increasing attendance at games where fans show up not in droves but smatterings. Matthews can run, dunk, block shots—the Yahoo piece tells of him dominating pick-up games at West 4th Street in New York, games that aren't easily dominated, and he spent five years playing on a Lamar Odom-sponsored AAU team.
So why is he playing at Farmingdale State, the boondocks of a college basketball division that had its last NBA success in Devean George? In an NCAA environment that has seen academic scandal become more the rule than the exception—think Simeon High changing grades for Derrick Rose and allegedly letting someone else take his SATs, North Carolina athletes that don't know what a paragraph is, or schools like Western Oklahoma State College that exist partly to award athletes from elsewhere quick and easy credits—how did AJ Matthews, an NBA talent, end up ineligible due to academics?