SAMOHI — Already fielding a youth-laden roster, Santa Monica’s boys’ basketball team just got even younger.
Jordan Mathews, a sophomore guard and son of new UCLA assistant men’s basketball coach Phil Mathews, has transferred to Samohi from Riverside North.
Mathews made his debut with the team Sunday, playing for Samohi in a tournament at Crespi Carmelite in Encino.
“I think he’ll fit in very nicely,” Samohi Head Coach James Hecht said. “He’s definitely a talented player, and he has a very high ceiling. The first thing that stood out in my mind is how hard he plays and how coachable he is.”
UCLA announced on April 26 the hiring of Phil Mathews as an assistant to Bruins Head Coach Ben Howland. The elder Mathews, a native of Southern California who played for UC Irvine in the early 1970s, spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach at Nebraska.
“I think he’s expecting to earn a spot to play,” Phil Mathews said of his son. “Santa Monica has a really good coach and some good players.”
After one of the most successful seasons in school history — Samohi made it all the way to the CIF-SS Division 1A final, where they lost to Leuzinger — the Vikings lost all five starters to graduation and could have as many as six sophomores playing on varsity next season.
Mathews’ arrival should help. As a freshman, the 6-foot-2 shooting guard averaged “about 15 points a game,” according to Phil Mathews.
“I think he can really shoot the basketball,” the elder Mathews said of his son. “He’s going to have to improve his defense, but [playing for] Coach Hecht will do that.”
Added Hecht: “He should be a big contributor to our team and our program. We’re very high on him.”
Mathews will see more playing time Monday, when the Vikings travel to Fairfax High School for another summer tournament.