Thursday, December 18, 1997
UCLA Makes Him Offer He Couldn't Refuse
Volleyball: Scholarship from the Bruins was more important to Komer than the chance to continue standout basketball career.
By PAUL MCLEOD, Times Staff Writer
OS ALAMITOS--On the surface, the news was a bit shocking. To Matt Komer, who
plays center on the Los Alamitos basketball team, the decision wasn't
that difficult, however.
A 6-foot-7 senior, Komer has committed to play volleyball at UCLA next
year, eschewing what many believe would be a grand opportunity at a
college basketball career.
"I like both sports, but I just couldn't pass up that volleyball
scholarship," Komer said.
Komer had a stellar junior basketball season. He was named the Sunset
League's co-most valuable player, was a Times Orange County second-team
selection and a Southern Section Division I second-team pick.
His 22-point effort, including two three-pointers, in a 67-59 loss to
nationally ranked Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha in the Wooden Classic Dec. 4,
proved he can play with the best. And his 12-point, eight-rebound
performance in a 79-68 victory over Servite at Tournament of Champions
last week was the kind of effort that demonstrated the balance he brings
to the team. Last season, he averaged 13.4 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Nevertheless, Komer has had his mind set on being a Bruin since he was
a little kid. When the volleyball offer was tendered, he jumped at the
"He's always wanted to go to UCLA," said Steve Brooks, Los Alamitos
basketball and volleyball coach. "I think if they had offered him a
swimming scholarship he would have gone to UCLA."
Until a couple of years ago, volleyball was just something Komer did
when it wasn't basketball season. After all, his brother Chris played
volleyball at Los Alamitos and now plays for Golden West College.
"Basketball, that was at the top of my list," Matt Komer said. "Then I
started getting volleyball attention from recruiters."
Komer joined Surf City Volleyball Club of Huntington Beach in the
spring of '96 and had a good showing at last summer's Junior Olympics in
Colorado. Although right-handed, Komer has the leaping ability and good
arm swing to play opposite, a position often reserved for lefties.
"He's someone who can put the ball away and is efficient at hitting,"
said Steve Walker, his club coach. "That's exactly what he does. He puts
the ball away, is a good blocker and has a real good jump serve."
Brooks believes the sports complement each other and wouldn't be
surprised if Komer attempts to walk on to the UCLA basketball program.
Brooks said he has contacted UCLA basketball coaches about Komer.
Komer says he might do that next season. He has discussed the
possibility with the Bruin volleyball coaches and has their permission to
"It would be a real positive for them," Brooks said. "He's 6-7, and
with the skills he has, I don't know how many All-CIF guys they have
walking around on campus."
UCLA spokesman Rich Bertolucci said that years ago standout basketball
players such as John Vallely and Keith Erickson played both sports, but
that it would be highly unlikely for players to do that today because the
men's volleyball season begins in early January and runs concurrently
with the Pac-10 basketball season.
Brooks credits Komer for being honest with himself when he signed to
"Matt knew what he wanted," Brooks said. "Ultimately, it doesn't
matter what parent, coach or any outside influence you have tells you
where to go to school. He has to be an individual and he had his mind
made up that he wanted to go to UCLA. When he committed [to play
volleyball], obviously, he made the right decision."
Komer isn't one to offer up his feelings on a moment's notice. Brooks,
however calls Komer a quiet leader who is always thinking about how best
to get the job done.
"He's sensitive, very intelligent and a great athlete," Brooks said.
"He's a great kid with a great personality. He doesn't open up all the
time, but when he does, he's real easy-going and the kids all like him."
Komer has a knack for taking advantage of his athletic abilities in
both sports, Brooks said.
"He has strength and agility and he's real explosive jumping. Those
are real indicative of basketball and volleyball players and he has great
hands. He's the complete player."
Teammates point to Komer's effort against DeMatha as a tribute to his
"I thought he played exceptional," guard Ryan Ellis said. "He really
stepped it up. A lot of guys seemed nervous playing against that kind of
team, but he didn't seem nervous."
Komer said he enjoys the intense atmosphere of a basketball game, but
has grown to love the pace of a volleyball match.
"I like the competitive nature of basketball," he said. "It's more
intense than volleyball."
Guard Enrique Phillips believes Komer would succeed at whatever sport
he chose to play in college.
"He had two weapons to choose from and he chose volleyball," Phillips
said. "I think everyone supports him in his decision. UCLA is a great
With all the talk about his volleyball prowess, Komer has set lofty
goals for himself this season in basketball. Above all, he wants to win a
second MVP award in the Sunset League and help his team do well in the
"Our goal is to make it to the [division] final," he said.
Copyright Los Angeles Times