Washington's Bryan-Amaning Spreading His Wings
by Maiah Hollander
Matthew Bryan-Amaning has a wingspan of 7-foot-4-inches, but as a player on the University of Washington basketball team, he has reached much further than that. Hailing from London, Bryan-Amaning has made his trip from across the pond well worth it, leading the Pac-10 in rebounds and helping lead UW to several key wins.
"If I wanted to be the best, I knew I had to go to the US," said Bryan-Amaning. "I wasn't nervous. It was something I wanted to do."
Bryan-Amaning had grown up like any other kid, going to school, playing with friends. He had dreams, following in his older brother's footsteps into basketball. Luckily for him, basketball was, and still is the number one growing sport in Europe.
"When I was about eight or nine my mom encouraged me to think about heading to the US," he said. "Being able to play against the top payers in the country is the best thing."
It hasn't always been such a clear road for Bryan-Amaning. As a sophomore, he was injured in a game when his leg was folded beneath him. Despite the injury, he was able to come back against what was then Kansas and later Florida where he blocked two shots and swiped a steal. In just 17 minutes against Texas Southern, he scored 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting.
Luckily for UW Bryan-Amaning recovered fully and was able to play much longer than the measly minutes he garnered while injured.
Now with a clean bill of health, Bryan-Amaning has continued to surge forward in his UW career, currently the Pac-10 leader in rebounds with over 600 to his name, and he is also in the top five in the Pac-10 in blocks.
"The best moment here was the Pac-10 Championship, when the crowd flooded the floor and we cut down the net," said Bryan-Amaning.
Now a senior, Bryan-Amaning has been called the most improved player in the Pac-10 by Fox Sports announcers, and dedicated fans alike. Many experts claimed they would not be surprised to see him win the Pac-10 Most Improved Player award this year.
"He's real athletic for his size," said fellow UW teammate Isaiah Thomas. "You don't see a real big man like that, that can run the floor like he can."
A problem that had plagued Bryan-Amaning in the early years of his UW career was the amount of time he lost due to foul trouble. This loss of court time took a big bite out of his potential.
This year he has practiced more self-control, which in turn has allowed him to stay on the court, where he has nearly doubled his average rebounds per game since his freshman year.
"We need him to have a good game if we want a chance to win it," said Thomas. "He scores he blocks shots, he does a little bit of everything."