Daniella Matus is one of four impressive starting freshmen on NJ.com’s No. 6 ranked Morris Catholic High School’s girls’ basketball team that is on a current remarkable 24-game run this season.
Yes, it is uncommon to have that much talent in a freshmen-loaded squad (seven overall), with Matus as one of the top high school female players in the 2025 New Jersey class.
So, what type of impact has the 15-year-old made thus far?
Matus, a 5-foot-10 shooting guard, has drained the sixth most three-pointers in New Jersey girls’ high school hoops with 75 and is in the present number one spot in North Jersey, Head Coach Billy Lovette noted. Plus, she has averaged 15.25 points in 25 contests played so far.
When asked if Matus’ exceptional play has surprised Lovette, he replied: “Absolutely not. She’s a high major Division I player. She has done everything I was told she would be coming into the season, and then some.”
In the process of their amazing winning streak, the Crusaders have captured the Morris County Tournament title and earned the second seed in the NJSIAA Tournament North Jersey, Non-Public B sectionals.
But as gifted as the Fairfield, N.J., product is, it has not happened by accident.
She has been playing since the fifth grade, and Matus’s dad, Mike, pushes her to be the best student-athlete that she can be, bar none.
“She definitely has the talent to play at the next level, without a doubt,” Mike Matus said. “She loves it (basketball). We use the heavy ball to expand her range. During the (high school) offseason, we go two-three hours a day. I’m very proud of her production. All the hard work she’s putting in, she’s starting to see results.”
So, is Mike Matus–who played basketball at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, and a year at Division II Bentley University, in Massachusetts–surprised by her early high school basketball sucess?
“To be honest with you, not at all,” he said. “We put in thousands of hours in over the last couple of years. Hundreds of thousands of shots. People might say it’s a lot, but it’s not. We chart everything out. There’s a plan, and it’s part of the process.”
And you can’t argue with the results, as Matus, who also a good student, seems to have a bright future in the sport.
“It’s definitely making me into a better player,” Matus said of the tough practices she participates in with her dad. “He pushes me because he believes in me. He’s always my number one supporter.”
As far as playing for a rising, top hoops program, Matus said she relishes in the chance to play with such talented proup of girls, in which she said she has formed a tight bond with, on and off the hardwood.
“It feels great, and I feel like I have a lot of opportunities that not many other kids get, she said. “It’s fun, I like it a lot, and we’re all like a family.”
Having other people believe she can play D1 hoops is one thing, but Matus also feels she possesses the ability and drive to go that high-level route. She said it is something she has had aspiration to do for as long as she can remember.”
“Oh, definitely,” she exclaimed. “That’s my goal for right now, to definitely go to a high Division I (basketball college).”
But for right now, Matsu, who played for AAU Philly Rise, said she is living in the moment, with her eyes on going as far as possible with the Crusaders.
“I think the best thing about this season so far is obviously the (Morris County) championship that we won,” Matsu said. “The other championship tournament we are playing in right now, I think we have the talent to take it.”
— Jerry Del Priore
Photo: Courtesy of Billy Lovett.