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Ex-Zag Jordan Mathews hoping to find alternative path to NBA

Gonzaga’s Jordan Mathews drives against South Carolina’s P. J. Dozier in the Final Four. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga’s Jordan Mathews drives against South Carolina’s P. J. Dozier in the Final Four. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Jordan Mathews isn’t planning on watching the NBA Draft on Thursday. He isn’t hosting a watch party surrounded by family and friends.

“I’m going to be in the gym most likely,” the former Gonzaga wing said nonchalantly, “probably at my old high school gym.”

Mathews doesn’t appear on mock drafts, but he has surfaced on some lists. He’s No. 85 on CBSsports.com’s player rankings, he’s 18th among shooting guards, eight spots below former GU teammate Nigel Williams-Goss.

But Mathews is fully invested in the process. He signed with Wasserman, which also represents Williams-Goss and ex-Zag Przemek Karnowski. The trio worked out together in Los Angeles for about six weeks with other Wasserman clients.

Mathews doesn’t expect to hear his name called Thursday, but he knows there are other routes to the NBA.

“It’s a dream to play in the NBA, but (the draft) is really not that big a deal,” he said. “A bunch of guys get drafted and don’t stick. It’s about finding a way in.”

That might entail signing as a free agent and shining in the NBA summer league, or excelling overseas and returning after a few seasons.

“He’s someone worth a shot for summer (league),” according to an NBA executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “He’s undersized but he’s a shot-maker at the end of the day, and that’s what this league needs.”

Mathews has worked out for seven teams with the possibility of one or two more before the draft. He said he’s in the best shape of his life. The additional conditioning made for an easier transition to the NBA 3-point line, which is up to three feet deeper than the NCAA arc.

He spoke with former Zag forward Kyle Wiltjer, who went undrafted in 2016 but meticulously studied NBA teams with his agent to pinpoint his best chance of making a roster. Wiltjer signed with Houston, made the team and appeared in 14 Rockets games and 22 with their D-League squad.

“That’s actually what we’re hoping for,” said Mathews, who, like Wiltjer, is an accomplished perimeter shooter. “If I’m undrafted and can pick my situation it would probably be better.”


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