Preston Mattingly, a former Dodgers’ first-round pick, is returning to what he always considered his best sport. He has committed to Lamar University in Texas, where he will play under Coach Pat Knight.
Lamar is a Division I school that plays in the Southland Conference. The Cardinals made the most recent of their six NCAA tournament appearances in 2012. They reached the Sweet 16 in 1980.
Mattingly, who turns 26 next month, was the Dodgers’ top selection in the 2006 draft. But he never advanced past Class A.
Mattingly was traded to the Indians in September 2010, but was released the following spring. He was in the New York Yankees’ minor league spring training camp last year, but was cut.
“Basketball came naturally for me,” Mattingly said. “Baseball, it took me a while to learn how to do stuff. Being an Indiana kid, you grow up, all you do is play basketball.”
Mattingly, who is 6-foot-3, said he averaged 21 points per game as a high school senior. Mattingly said he was always a better basketball player than a baseball player. His father agrees.
Mattingly returned to his native Indiana a few months ago and started working out with Brent Chitty, his former coach at Evansville Central High. Chitty called another of his former players, Pat Knight, and told him he had a player for him.
Mattingly visited Lamar and was offered a scholarship.
“I’m really excited,” Mattingly said.