Justin Matsu's journey | from 12th man to State Champion

NBA great Kevin Durant posits that “hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard”. Team Esface looks to cultivate the talented players hungry to work hard. Justin Matsu joined Team Esface as a frail, small point guard yet by 2012-13 he was awarded Team Esface Hungry Player of the Year - an honor given to the player who worked so hard that talent could not escape him. As Coyle of The Talent Code confirms, in the process that produces talent, “struggle is not an option: it is a biological requirement.”

In 2012, when Justin tried out for my 8th grade championship, national contenders All-Net A team he was offered and took the 12th, bench warming, spot on the team. By the middle of the season, Justin was the starting point guard on this rarely defeated team. How? Justin was relentless, hungry, insatiable. He came to every skills clinic we offered, where deep practice is developed; he worked out with every coach, allowing them to focus on and correct his mistakes; he came to every Gladiatorial workout (outdoor optional fitness workouts) to improve speed and agility; he became every coach's little brother, special project, joy to coach/train. By the end of the season, he was a bonafide shooter, a deadly assassin with the ball in his hands, possessed ball handling skills to get by the best of them, and understood the nuances of leadership. He was now equipped to and reached his goal of making the freshman team at the competitive program of Serra High School.

After playing freshman, he graduated to JV and for his last two years he was able to play on the Varsity team, a top ranked team in northern California with highly accomplished Serra legendary Coach Chuck Rapp. Though he didn’t play a lot, his work ethic and intangibles offered tremendous value to the team. His junior year, Matsu made history by winning Serra High School's first State Championship for any sport. 

Serra High School 2016 State Championship picture. Justin Matsu pictured sitting in middle under the trophy during his Junior year. 

Serra High School 2016 State Championship picture. Justin Matsu pictured sitting in middle under the trophy during his Junior year. 

Before Justin makes his way to Corvallis entering Oregon State University as a freshman, he made time to inspire the next generation of Team Esface ball players, especially the undersized players who may be discouraged. With the right amount of hunger, work ethic, and leadership ANYTHING is possible!!!

Check out this small clip from his interview and stay tuned for more stories like this. I hope your baller can be inspired to keep the hunger alive and to persevere through the ups and down in everyone’s journey to reaching their big goals.

Stay Hungry.