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Norwin's Stewart signs with Wheeling Jesuit

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 8:52 p.m.
For the Norwin Star
Norwin forward Matt Stewart, shown in a game against Ringgold during his junior season, sent in his National Letter of Intent on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, to play for Wheeling Jesuit University beginning in 2013-14. Aaron Loughner | For the Norwin Star

Matt Stewart is trading in Norwin blue for Cardinal red.

Stewart, a senior and Norwin basketball's leading scorer last season, sent in his National Letter of Intent last week to join the men's hoops program at Wheeling Jesuit after graduation next year.

A forward for the Knights at 6-foot-4, Stewart possesses a versatile enough game that makes him an option as a two-guard or a forward at the collegiate level, which is what made him so appealing to the coaches for the Divsion-II Cardinals.

“He plays like he's 6-foot-7, and he's got a good body on him right now,” Wheeling Jesuit head coach Danny Sancomb said.

“He's a little undersized for our league, but that's the way we play. We play spread out, and he already shoots the ball OK. He's got a good pulse for the game on him, and he can work to become an even better shooter in the college game.”

On his end, Stewart sees the same opportunity for personal improvement in Wheeling, in part because of the coaches who recruited him.

“I met with their coaches, and all of them were big scorers on their team,” said Stewart, specifically citing Sancomb, who was the NCAA's leading scorer in Division II during his own playing days at Wheeling Jesuit.

“Coming in, I've got a high chance of playing my freshman and sophomore years. They've had some good recruiting classes coming in, and they're coming off a good season last year.”

Basketball isn't the only reason Wheeling Jesuit was the choice for Stewart, who was rated as the area's No. 11 recruit for 2013 by the Pittsburgh Basketball Report website, which also includes non-WPIAL schools, such as Kiski Prep, among its rankings.

“I like the campus, and I like that it's a smaller program building up,” Stewart said. “They've got an engineering program there that just started, and that was a big deciding factor, along with their coaching staff.”

Stewart's academic goals played a big part in his selection, as he picked Wheeling Jesuit for its engineering path over a number of other colleges, including Division-II Seton Hill and Shepherd and Division-III Ithaca and St. Vincent.

He also liked the school's proximity to home and the fact that its conference, the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, would make the majority of his games somewhat close to home.

“The school is about an hour and a half away from home, which is perfect, because it's not so far away that my family and friends won't be able to come to games,” Stewart said.

Once he settles in with the Cardinals, Stewart expects to be part of a program on the rise. Wheeling Jesuit was 22-10 last year and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and this year, the team is off to a 2-0 start with WVIAC play beginning this week.

“Matt's the kind of guy that can help us keep our program moving forward,” Sancomb said. “We're striving to do great things with our program, and we've been fortunate to recruit great people on and off the court.”

With that sort of backing behind him, Stewart is eager to join the Cardinals.

“There's a lot of good guys there,” he said. “I stayed with (the players) for two nights and had a good time. That's a big factor as to why I chose them.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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