Before the season began, Nate Camp asked his star forward about his goals for the year.
“He said to me, without being cocky at all, that he wanted to win a state championship and be Player of the Year in Division III,” Camp said. “Well, there you go. He did it.”
That “he” of the lofty, and accomplished, goals is 6-foot-8 Tayler Mattos. The junior averaged 26 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals per game for Kearsarge, which won the first boys’ basketball title in school history on March 11 with a 51-46 win over Stevens. Mattos also passed the 1,000-point milestone this season and received a scholarship offer from the University of New Hampshire.
Camp knows how fortunate he is to coach a player who can put up stats like that and deliver championships. But he may be most grateful for the “without being cocky at all” part of Mattos’s personality.
“He’s so humble. I love it when he blocks shots. He just goes back and does his job. He’s not pounding his chest like, ‘Look at me,’ ” Camp said. “He knows he’s the biggest kid on the floor and he should be doing that, and that’s his attitude. He just wants to do anything possible to help his team and as a coach you love a kid like that.”
Mattos was instrumental to Kearsarge’s run to the championship game in 2016, where the Cougars lost to Pelham, 43-39. He averaged 15.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for a team that also featured Mattos’s older brother, 6-9 Zach, and All-State point guard Trent Noordsij. After those two left, the younger Mattos and Kearsarge junior Tommy Johnson immediately took ownership of the Cougars, leading the way in the weight room and other offseason activities.
That extra muscle helped Mattos when “teams would drape two or three guys on him and he was still strong enough to get his shot off,” Camp said. The scary part is Mattos, who won’t be 17 until August, is still growing.
But don’t be mistaken, Mattos’s game is about so much more than size. He understands defensive concepts, he’s an excellent passer and he’s got a sweet shooting touch. He opened this year’s championship game with a 3-pointer and finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. And that was after he went for 32 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks in the 50-39 semifinal win against Somersworth.
“If he’s not the best overall player in the state,” Camp said, “then he’s right up there.”