SAMOHI — School has been out for nearly a month, but for Santa Monica’s boys’ basketball team, class is still in session.
While their friends might be enjoying the warm weather or relaxing by the beach, the players have been spending much of their summer in the gym in preparation for the upcoming season.
“It’s been a good summer, a very productive summer. I’m very proud of the effort the guys put in, day in, day out,” Head Coach James Hecht said.
Hecht certainly had reason to be pleased after the team’s recent showing at the 24th annual Nike Fairfax Tournament. There, the Vikings overcame their youth and a deep field to take fourth place, beating Fairfax and Los Angeles Price before falling to Taft in the semifinals.
Samohi graduated all five starters last month from a team that reached the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section finals last season, leaving behind a bevy of sophomores and juniors. The Vikings still have plenty of talent, though, so they shouldn’t experience a drastic drop-off next season.
One reason to be optimistic is sophomore guard Jordan Mathews, who transferred to Samohi last month from Riverside North. Mathews, whose father, Phil, recently took an assistant coaching position with the UCLA men’s basketball program, had a standout performance at Fairfax, hitting a game-clinching shot against Price and earning All-Tournament honors.
“One thing Jordan does is he attacks the basket, and he’s got good body control,” Hecht said.
Mathews’ scoring ability should come in handy when the real season begins in the winter. For now, the team’s focus remains on taking the rest of the summer to get ready.
“We’re really focusing on working on offensive execution, developing team chemistry on both ends of the floor,” Hecht said. “We’re big on emphasizing the fundamentals.”
The Vikings are currently competing in a summer league at Samohi on Wednesday nights, although some members of the roster are away playing with various travel teams, Hecht said.