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Published: Monday, 4/26/2010

2 of Kowalczyk's former players transferring to UT


University of Toledo men's basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk announced Monday that 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard Rian Pearson and 6-7, 200-pound forward Matt Smith are transferring to the University of Toledo from Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Both will have sophomore eligibility after sitting out the upcoming season.

“We're awfully excited to have Rian and Matt join our program,” Kowalczyk said. “Having coached both individuals in Green Bay, I'm obviously very familiar with them and they're familiar with our coaching staff. Both Rian and Matt possess all the qualities we're looking for in our program. We made a commitment to them a year-and-a-half ago, and we're going to honor that commitment as we build our program at Toledo.”

A native of Raytown, Mo., Pearson saw action in 32 games for the Phoenix during the 2009-10 season and averaged 6.4 points and 2.7 rebounds. He came on strong at the end of the year, averaging 11.3 points and 4.9 rebounds over the last seven games. Pearson's top performance came with a career-best 17 points against Indiana State on Feb. 20. He also scored 14 points and six rebounds against Saint Louis in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational.

“Rian plays with an unbelievable amount of energy and activity,” Kowalczyk said. “He is a player that can score around the basket, has a good mid-range game and is continuing to developing his perimeter skills.”

Smith started 34 of 35 games for UWGB last year, averaging 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds. The Whitewright, Texas, native scored a career-high 13 points in 16 minutes against UW-Milwaukee on Feb. 6. Smith's other top outings came with nine points and six rebounds at Valparaiso on Jan. 2 and eight points and eight rebounds vs. Loyola (Ill.) on Dec. 3.

“Matt is a very talented and athletic player,” Kowalczyk said. “He's extremely long and possesses good instincts in the post yet he can still make plays off the dribble on the perimeter.”

Kowalczyk added that he believes both players can benefit from having a year to work on their games and fine-tune their skills.

“I look for both Matt and Rian to really expand their games during their redshirt year,” Kowalczyk said. “I think Rian will become a better ballhandler and shooter, while Matt will be able to get bigger and stronger and provide us with a tremendous interior presence.”

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