Cinderella, meet Prince Mathews.
The men’s college basketball program that has become known for carrying the small-school banner at the so-called Big Dance has added Jordan Mathews to its roster.
The former Santa Monica High School star, who played the first three seasons of his collegiate career with the California Golden Bears, will use up his final year of athletic eligibility at Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington.
Mathews is taking classes at Cal this summer to complete his undergraduate degree and will be available to play for the Bulldogs in 2016-17, according to multiple media reports.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard brings Division I experience and efficient outside shooting to Gonzaga, which has dominated the West Coast Conference and made 17 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament under coach Mark Few.
“Jordan is a proven big-time shooter and scorer at our level,” Few said in a news release. “He is a guy with great character and is a really good student. He comes from a basketball family and will be a tremendous fit with our team.”
Mathews developed into a 3-point specialist at Cal, leading the squad in makes (89) during the 2015-16 campaign while shooting at a 41.6-percent clip. He climbed to No. 4 in 3-point baskets on the Bears’ all-time chart.
Playing at Cal on a talented squad that featured the eventual No. 3 draft pick in Jaylen Brown, Mathews averaged 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game this past season. The Bears earned a No. 4 seed in the postseason tournament, their best placement in program history.
At the end of May, Mathews announced that he would not be playing at Cal next year. News of his agreement with Gonzaga was announced by the school late last month.
“Jordan has been a valuable member to our Cal basketball program for the past three years,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “As with any of our student-athletes, graduating from Cal is of paramount importance and I am happy Jordan is on track to earn his degree in legal studies this summer. Along with our entire staff, I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Raised in San Francisco, Mathews developed into one of Southern California’s most outstanding players during his time at Samohi. He was named the CIF Southern Section player of the year in Division I as a senior in 2013, when he drained a 3-pointer to give the Vikings a thrilling victory over Los Angeles-Loyola in a regional title game.
Local fans will likely be able to watch Mathews in person because Gonzaga typically has league games on the road against Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The Bulldogs’ schedule has not yet been announced.
Basketball has long been a common thread in Mathews’ family. His father, Philip, is the head coach at Riverside City College. His younger brother, recent Samohi alumnus Jonah Mathews, is preparing to play at USC under coach Andy Enfield. The younger Mathews led the Vikings to a section championship this past season, when they defeated Temecula Valley in a thrilling comeback in March at Honda Center in Anaheim.