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Wisconsin hockey recruiting: Auston Matthews reportedly has interest in Badgers

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Could the Badgers shock the hockey world and land Auston Matthews? Probably not, but it's fun to think about.

Minas Panagiotakis - Getty Images

Well, this is somewhat surprising. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has interest in Wisconsin.

"Auston Matthews, a dynamic center projected by some to be the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, is accelerating his academics at the U.S. National Team Developmental Program with an eye toward being eligible for college in 2015-16. According to sources, he's told acquaintances that UW is one of the schools he's interested in. The NTDP under-18 squad played the Badgers in Madison in December and Matthews scored two goals en route to a 4-1 exhibition victory."

I interviewed Matthews for a story on USCHO.com in October, and at the time he told me he had narrowed down his college options to five schools: Boston University, Boston College, North Dakota, Michigan and Denver.

Is it possible Wisconsin has entered the race?

With Brock Boeser committing to North Dakota, the Badgers do have scholarship money available.

Matthews currently plays at the NTDP where he is coached by former Badger Don Granato. When I spoke with Granato for my USCHO story earlier this year, Granato gushed about what a talented player Matthews was.

"He's an elite player," Granato said. "From speed, to hand-eye coordination, to hockey sense, size, strength, work ethic, commitment — all of those are 10s. We're talking about an impressive player."

An Arizona native, Matthews currently leads the NTDP U18's in goals (39), assists (42) and points (81) while skating in 45 games.

Regardless of this new development, most believe Matthews still ends up in the Western Hockey League. Whether that's with the Everett Silvertips which own his WHL rights or another team, that still seems like the most likely destination.

Matthews is taking his time with this process, and told me in October when he makes a commitment on where he'll play next year, that decision will be final.

"I'm just taking my time with everything," Matthews said. "Both (the WHL and college) are not bad routes at all. I think if I'm going to commit to play somewhere — I'm a man of my word, I'm going to go play there.

"So, right now, I'm just going to sit back and weigh my options and make sure I find what the best fit is for me."

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