Valley News – Kearsarge graduate Tayler Mattos becomes Maltese cougar

Nate Camp recalls a conversation he had with Tayler Mattos when he was a freshman.

The two, along with Mattos’ teammate Tommy Johnson, were walking around the gymnasium at Kearsarge Regional High School. Camp, the Cougars’ boys’ basketball coach, pointed to a banner on the wall that listed all of the 1,000-point scorers.

“I looked at the 1,000 point markers and said, ‘You could be up there,'” Camp recalled.

Response from Mattos: “I don’t want to be on that banner, Coach. I want to be on this banner.

The banner Mattos was referring to was for the program’s state championships, then empty.

Just over two years later, Mattos achieved that goal, recording 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks in the Division III title game to lift the Cougars to their first title in program history.

Now Mattos, 22, a resident of New London, has achieved another dream. On Thursday, he signed a professional contract to play basketball for Bupa Luxxol in Malta.

Bupa Luxxol, also known in English as Luxxol Basketball Sports Club, plays in Division I of the Malta BOV League, the top league in the Republic of Malta, an island nation 50 miles south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea.

“It’s always been my goal since high school (to play professionally),” Mattos said. “I’m not sure it hit me 100% yet.”

Mattos had a distinguished career at Kearsarge, leading the Cougars to back-to-back championship appearances in Division III, prompting Kearsarge’s promotion to D-II, and ending his career with a 61-23 record. He was named Division III Player of the Year for 2017 and D-II Player of the Year for 2018.

Mattos signed on to play Division I college ball for Bowling Green State University after graduating from Kearsarge in 2018.

He spent two years with the Falcons, starting 30 of 31 games in his sophomore year while leading the team in blocks (24) and finishing second in rebounds (5.1 per game).

Mattos transferred to Granite State to play for the University of New Hampshire and started 19 games last season, averaging 4.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 16 minutes per game on the court.

After earning a communications degree from UNH in May, he signed with an agent for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

Teams from Croatia and Kosovo have also shown interest in Mattos, but Bupa Luxxol’s one-year rookie deal was the first official offer on the table.

“What they like about me is that I’m a big, versatile man,” said Mattos, a center who is 6-foot-11 (he was 6-foot-9 in high school). “They like the way I run the floor and I can shoot mid range and the occasional 3.”

Mattos’ style of play should fit well with the European brand of basketball which focuses more on the movement of the ball on the floor, as opposed to the one-on-one style more common in the United States.

“My agent explained a lot to me. And two of my teammates are playing abroad at the moment,” Mattos said.

Former Bowling Green teammate and point guard Dylan Frye is entering his third year of professional basketball in Romania.

“I heard that every league can be a bit different,” Mattos said. “I’ve also heard there’s a lot more ball movement in the European leagues. Usually the talent is a bit more spread out, instead of going one-on-one with every possession. … My Goals for this year as far as basketball is to produce at a high level and be one of the best players in the league I hope to have a lot more opportunities next year.

Playing in the Maltese league brings Mattos closer to scouts in Europe’s top leagues in Italy, Spain and Germany, and Mattos hopes to one day play for one of the continent’s top teams.

But for now, he can’t wait to start a new adventure as a professional athlete. The president of Bupa Luxxol has organized his flights and already has an apartment for him. He leaves on September 14.

“Another goal outside of basketball is having cool experiences, getting to know a new culture and living,” Mattos said.

The island of Malta will surely be a different life from the one he knew and loved in New Hampshire.

“He’s such a loyal 603 kid,” Camp said. “It says a lot about who he is as a person. He’s very close to where he comes from, and I like that about him. At any time, he could have gone to a private school. He could have gone to a NEPSAC school that would have wanted him, but he stayed local. He stayed here with the public school. I’m so proud of him.”

Mattos is very close to his Kearsarge roots, has stayed in touch with former teammates and coaches, and makes frequent appearances to help with the KRHS basketball program, summer leagues, and clinics that Camp runs.

“When (Mattos) talks to kids, you can hear a pin drop,” Camp said. “He is such an inspiration. It’s a legend.

When asked what lesson he hopes student-athletes can take away from Mattos, Camp’s answer was clear: Be a good teammate.

“He just wants to win and be part of something special,” Camp said. ” That’s what it’s about. He wanted to work hard and be a good teammate. It was never about him. He didn’t want it to be about him. For high school kids, it’s good to pass that on. What can you do for your team. Everyone wants to be good, but can you be a great teammate and lift everyone up. He’s such a humble guy. I am honored to have coached him. »

Mattos said the main thing going through my mind is remembering why I’m here, sticking to my team and being in the best possible frame of mind to succeed.

“That’s all I can really do,” he added. “It’s crazy. It’s great to have achieved my biggest dream.