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Cal Basketball

Jordan Mathews: At Loose Ends in Italy

March 9, 2020

Mark J Rebilas - USA TODAY
Mathews Playing for Gonzaga

Millions have been affected by the coronavirus. Former Cal basketball player Jordan Mathews is one of them.

Mathews is not afflicted with the mysterious virus, but he plays for the Vanoli Cremona team in Italy, and he knows first hand the ripple effect of the disease. 

His team, located in Northern Italy, has not played since early February and he is not sure when it will be allowed to take the court again.

“It’s changing rapidly,” he said in a transcontinental telephone interview Tuesday. “The league decided there would be no league games until they reconvene April 3. That’s as soon as we can have league games. I think before then a decision will be made regarding the rest of the season.”

As recently as Monday, Mathews believed that play would resume soon and maybe some makeup games played at the end of the season. Now that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has put the entire country on lockdown he is not so sure.

“A lot of the foreigners are going home,” Mathews said. “They don’t want to be stuck here if this drags on.”

And he is unsure of his next step. “For now it is looking like I am going to stay,” he said “I am going to talk to my agent about it. I have got to look at all the angles. Because if you leave that could be a breach of contract. I don’t want that. But I don’t want to be stuck here all summer in a situation like this.”

He said daily life in this city in the Lombardy region, is going on almost as usual. “it’s a mixed bag,” he said. “Some places you look and it’s completely normal. Other places are closed down. ...People aren’t really scared yet., There’s a general sense of worry, but it’s not really as bad as you see on the news.”

On the court, Mathews was having some success. The 25-year-old guard had overcome an early-season injury and was starting for Vanoli, which at 12-8 stands sixth in the 17-team league.

“This team is a good fit for me personally. I think I have shown what I can co with this team and this club,” he said. Unlike most basketball players, who can quote their personal stats down to the last decimal point, Mathews is more concerned with the team’s record than his own.

“I’m not sure,” he said when asked about his stats. “I haven’t looked in a while. I can check the numbers when I get home.”

I can save him the trouble. He is averaging 10.8 points per game, hitting 43.6  percent (58-for-133)) from the floor.

Mathews had transferred to Gonzaga for his senior collegiate season, and led the Bulldogs to the 2017 NCAA title game. He wasn’t drafted and joined the New Orleans Pelicans’ summer league team. He went to training camp with Atlanta and was among the final cuts. That season he played for the Erie Bay Hawks of the NBA G-League. 

In 2018 he went overseas to the  Team FOG Næstved of Denmark's Basketligaen. A year later he went south to Italy.

“I think top to bottom, it is the second-best league in Europe,next to Spain,” he said of his current home. “I think it’s better experience for me. And more money.”

He had come to Berkeley in 2013 as a top recruit, part of coach Mike Montgomery’s last class. He was prospering and even after Montgomery retired from coaching after Mathews’ freshman year he averaged 13.6 points and 13.5 points per game respectively the next two years. His final Cal team reached the NCAA Tournament, losing to Hawaii in the first round. 

“I definitely have some great memories at Cal,” he said. “I loved going there as a student. I loved the relationships I built with the members of the staff. I am still really close to coach Tracy Webster, the guys in my class Jabari (Bird) Roger (Moute a Bidias). Roger and I hang out every summer.

“ I loved going to Cal. I loved my experience there. Beating Arizona when they were No, 1 was huge. Going 18-0 at home was great. We got a couple of unlucky bounces against Hawaii. 

“I really enjoyed my time there. People ask me all the time. If you enjoyed going to Cal, why did you leave?

I got my degree I wanted to do something else.”

Although obviously not wanting to open old wounds, at the time he said his relationship with coach Cunozo Martin was one reason he left.

Now he waits in Italy for whatever might happen next. He still feels he has an outside shot at the big time. 

“I am only 25, it is definitely a possibility,” he said. “I am getting better over here. But I like it over here. If it works out that I can play in the NBA fine.But am OK either way.”.


Discussion from...

Jordan Mathews: At Loose Ends in Italy

1,288 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 18 days ago by SFCityBear
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I don't follow the Zags.
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Great writeup David, thanks for sharing.
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Mistake regarding team name. Correction: Vanoli Cannoli
Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the House of Detention
I got some friends inside
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Bobodeluxe said:

I don't follow the Zags.

I get it, but he graduated from Cal with a degree. If he had left to go to the pros directly instead would you disavow him? At least he didn't go to Stanford.
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bearister said:

Mistake regarding team name. Correction: Vanoli Cannoli
Sounds like a pasta I haven't tried yet.
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