Jake Mattox, who graduated from Valencia this spring, will play for the Central Wyoming College Rustlers in Riverton, Wyo. in the fall.
Cameron Goeldner | News-Bulletin photo

Jake Mattox, who graduated from Valencia High School this spring and starred on the Jaguars basketball team, has committed to play at Central Wyoming College next fall.

“First off I would like to thank all my teammates, friends and coaches for believing in me throughout my career at Valencia,” Mattox said in a statement announcing his commitment. “But I would like to express the most appreciation for my family, for always sticking by my side and believing in me no matter the circumstances. None of it would have been possible without you.

“Playing college basketball has been a dream of mine since the day I picked up a basketball, and with that being said I am very excited to announce I will be furthering my academic and basketball careers at Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyo.”

The Rustlers, as CWC’s athletic teams are known, are led by head coach Brad Schmit, who just completed his second season leading the program.

“(Mattox) can flat out score the basketball,” Schmit said in a tweet. “Can never have enough high character kids who excel in the classroom and on the court. Looking forward to working with Jacob.”

Schmit and the Rustlers began recruiting Mattox in early May after his brother sent out his tape to multiple schools.

CWC enjoyed much success last season, going 20-11 and reaching the second round of the Region IX tournament before they fell to Northeastern Junior College. The squad was also prolific on the offensive end, averaging 84 points per game.

The Rustlers compete at the division one level of the National Junior College Athletic Association in Region IX. Region IX consists of teams from Wyoming, Nebraska and eastern Colorado.

Central Wyoming is located in Riverton, Wyo, and has an enrollment of 2,265.

The Rustlers also had five players from last year’s team sign to continue to play at four-year institutions, including two players who will play division one basketball beginning next season.

“Well initially I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go out of state,” Mattox said. “But I had a change of heart after my first conversation with Coach Schmit at Central Wyoming.

“He mentioned the teams play style and described how he runs his program and it felt like a perfect fit for me.”

Mattox excelled in his time as a Jaguar, finishing his career with over 1400 points and twice earning all-state honors, including honors on the second team to finish his senior year, making him the only male athlete from the county to earn all-state honors in basketball.

He helped take the Jaguar program to new heights in his senior year, as the Jaguars beat Taos in the first round of the state playoffs in order to reach quarterfinals and play at the Pit for the first time, where the team fell to eventual state champion Valley in a hard-fought game.

He also finished high school with a 4.0 grade point average.

Mattox is one of ten newcomers who have signed to play with the Rustlers so far this year, and the only one who hails from New Mexico.

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Cameron Goeldner grew up in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of New Mexico. He covers everything sports for all Valencia County schools.