Mat Piotrowski plans to end his college basketball travels at Eastern Illinois University.

The 7-foot-1 Piotrowski, a 2009 Atlantic Christian School graduate, signed a national letter of intent Monday to play for Eastern Illinois on a full athletic scholarship. Eastern Illinois is an NCAA Division I program and member of the Ohio Valley Conference.

"I really liked the coaches at Eastern Illinois," said Piotrowski, a 22-year-old Port Republic resident. "When I visited, I was really comfortable with the coaches and the team. It was a place I could see myself in. The coach (Jay Spoonhour) has plans for me to come in and affect the program."

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Piotrowski started his college career at Boston University but left after one year following the departure of coach Pat Chambers. Piotrowski played this past season for Southwestern Illinois College, a junior college in Belleville, Ill. He helped SIC to a 24-7 record this winter.

"It was a good experience," Piotrowski said. "Junior college is much faster because the players are generally smaller.

"Things are a lot different in the Midwest. I missed the ocean; that was the main thing. But the people there are very nice. I like the area."

Piotrowski, who will be a junior, is going to an Eastern Illinois program that's looking to move up. The Panthers were 11-21 overall this winter in Spoonhour's first season. The team was 6-10 in the OVC and earned a berth in the league tournament. The school is located in Charleston, Ill.

"They're building and planning on me being a big part of that," Piotrowski said. "I'm excited for the future."

Spoonhour saw Southwestern Illinois practice and play over the winter.

"We feel very fortunate to get him," Spoonhour said Monday by telephone. "The first thing that strikes you, of course, is his size. But there's a whole lot of other intangibles that impress you. He has a tremendous knowledge of the game. His passing in the interior and the perimeter are very good, and he's a really good post player. He can defend just about anybody in the post, and that will be his strength as he continues his career."

At Atlantic Christian, Piotrowski was coached by his father, Tom, a 7-foot-2 former La Salle University player who also played one season in the 1980s with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. As an Atlantic Christian senior, Mat averaged 14.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 6.4 blocks.

Tom Piotrowski is no longer the Cougars' coach.

"Mat has been taking a long, twisted route (in college basketball)," the elder Piotrowski said. "He's seen a lot of coaches and been through a lot of recruiting, so he's hard to impress. But Jay (Spoonhour) took the lead in recruiting him, whereas some coaches leave that to the assistants. Mat's excited. He had patience in (junior college) and worked on his game. He should really enjoy playing college basketball the next couple years."

Mat Piotrowski's favorite NBA player is Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks.

"I take after him as much as I can, and I like to shoot 3s, but usually I have to stay in the post," Piotrowski said.

Luke Piotrowski, Mat's younger brother and a former Atlantic Christian teammate, plays for the University of Richmond.

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