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SAMOHI — Head Coach James Hecht isn’t the only person who thinks Jordan Mathews is a heck of a basketball player.

Apparently, the CIF-Southern Section’s coaches believe Santa Monica High School’s junior shooting guard is pretty special, too.

Mathews was named to the All-CIF-SS Division 1AA first team on Monday, an honor Hecht said speaks to his dedication and on-court prowess.

“It’s nice that he was recognized,” Hecht said. “It’s an honor to be mentioned with those other players.”

The Division 1AA team is loaded with playmakers from some of the most storied programs in southern California. Mater Dei produced the division’s Co-Players of the Year, seniors Katin Reinhardt and Xavier Johnson. Mater Dei’s head coach, Gary McNight won Coach of the Year.

Another SoCal powerhouse, Long Beach Poly, placed two on the first team in Roschon Prince and Jordan Bell.

All of those players are being highly recruited, giving Mathews some talented company.

The honor wasn’t the first for Mathews this off-season.

He was named Ocean League Most Valuable Player after averaging a team-high 24 points a game. He also grabbed 7.5 rebounds a contest in leading Samohi to a league title.

“It was flattering to get those honors,” Mathews said. “It feels like the hard work paid off.”

Hecht said that, in addition to his natural skills, Mathews is what he considers a “gym rat,” a guy who is usually the first in and the last out of the practice facility.

Mathews isn’t the only Viking honored for this past season.

Senior Trey Thompson was named to the All-Ocean League first team, with Jordan Walker making the second team.

For good measure, Hecht was named Coach of the Year for directing Samohi to a 20-9 overall record and 9-1 mark in league.

“It’s a great honor,” Hecht said of the accolade. “I’m very blessed to be around this group.”

The honor was Hecht’s sixth in his 20-plus years at the Samohi helm.

Despite the individual honors, Mathews said he wasn’t satisfied with the season.

The Vikings made it to the third round of the playoffs before being knocked out by Etiwanda, but Mathews said he has unfinished business next year.

“It was kind of a success, but I’d trade it all for a championship, any day,” he said. “[The honors] don’t make it complete.

“It’s nice to know that people recognize your game, but I want a ring.”

Mathews will be working toward that ultimate goal during the spring and fall as he has committed to play for Nike-sponsored team California Supreme, a travel club that will take Mathews all across the country starting with Minnesota in April.

During the off-season, Mathews is committed to improving his ball-handling skills, something that may come in handy on the next level.

Standing 6 foot 3, Mathews may have to switch from shooting guard to the point if he’s going to realize his dream of playing pro.

With the Vikings, Trevis Jackson handles point guard duties and is expected to do so next year as a senior. That aside, Mathews said anything he can do to elevate his game and make himself more attractive to college recruiters is worth the effort.

“I got to handle the ball, but I need to learn the nuances of playing the [point],” he said. “I need to learn the little things about being a point guard. Right now, I’m still more comfortable on the wing.”

A switch to a new position notwithstanding, Mathews has already attracted the attention of recruiters from a number of high-profile schools.

Gonzaga, Stanford and Cal are just some of the teams that have courted the junior. None have made formal offers, but Mathews said that he expects to start seeing offers come in during the summer as he prepares for his final high school season.

daniela@smdp.com

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