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May 15, 2014

Mount Olive Lands Green Run's Matin

Before the 2013-14 basketball season started, not too many people around the state of Virginia knew about Green Run 6-foot-4 wing Jamaal Matin. During the spring and summer, he didn't play on a high-profile AAU travel team. As a junior, he showed improvement for the Stallions, but was more of a role player.

By the time his senior season rolled around, it was now or never to make his mark and enhance his chances of playing on the next level. Matin took full advantage and helped lead Green Run to a 22-5 record, their first 20-win season since 1995. Along with that came the Conference 9 Tournament Championship and the Stallions' first region playoff victory since 2004.

Matin got noticed for his play, and as a result, received a scholarship to play College Basketball and will do so for Coach Joey Higginbotham and the University of Mount Olive, a well-established Division II program located in North Carolina.

"Jamaal is very excited about the opportunity to go to Mount Olive. They wanted him and viewed him as an integral piece to their puzzle. They're getting a diligent worker who has shown a lot of self-discipline as well as the desire to continue to improve both on and off the court," commented Green Run Head Basketball Coach Kenneth Harris.

"There were times where we as a coaching staff even bounced some things off of him in our game-planning and preparation because his basketball IQ is so sharp. That senior class that he was apart of truly meant so much to us and was the foundation to our basketball program at Green Run High School. His versatility was paramount in our success and I see him as someone that will do a variety of things for Mount Olive."

Matin was a First Team All-Conference selection and chosen Second Team All-Region in 5A-South this past season, averaging 14 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.4 steals per game. Although the Stallions' season finished one win shy of a State Tournament berth in a regional semifinal loss to Maury, it was arguably one of his finest performances with 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting, eight rebounds and three blocks.

"Jamaal was the glue to our team and in my opinion one of the most improved players in the state this year," Harris stated. "Even though he played out of position at times and had to handle the ball at the point some, he still remained very effective on the offensive end, plus did a really good job of being able to defend any position on the floor at the other end. The energy he plays with is contagious and having him on the floor made us feel like we always had a chance to win."

In six years under Higginbotham as Head Coach, the Trojans have gone 111-59 (.653). This past season, Mount Olive finished 19-9 overall and 12-4 in conference play, finishing atop the standings. Higginbotham is a Chesapeake, Virginia native that graduated from Atlantic Shores.

"Coach Higginbotham has built a highly successful program and really cares about his players, many of which come from Virginia and the Hampton Roads area," Harris added. "I think it's a tremendous fit and we're going to see Jamaal continue to grow and blossom as a player."

Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail [email protected], and don't forget to listen to him on High School Sports Talk from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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