7-foot-3 Matthew Van Komen has Pleasant Grove soaring to new heights

Vikings sophomore center has already drawn interest from Utah and Utah State

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (ABC4 Sports) - Matthew Van Komen is a typical 16-year-old sophomore at Pleasant Grove High School, with one big exception.

Van Komen is 7 foot 3 inches tall.

"When I was younger, I grew like six inches in a month," he said.

At 7-3, Van Komen still may be growing. He's believed to be the tallest 10th grader in the nation.

While he may not be the most athletic player on the court, Van Komen makes the biggest impact. He wins practically every jump ball, he can block a ton of shots, and his teammates can usually just lob it up to him. But Van Komen is still learning the game. He only started playing basketball four years ago.

"Around sixth grade I joined my school team," he said. "So I just went from there."

As a freshman, Van Komen had trouble running up and down the court. But this year, he has made tremendous improvement.

"He's shown us that he wants to be a better basketball player, which is something we didn't see as a 9th grader," said Pleasant Grove head coach Randy McAllister. "But now it's on him and he wants to come in and get better. That change, when a player wants to improve, it starts coming really fast."

Van Komen is averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds per game for the 13-2 Vikings, who went 3-1  in a prestigious tournament in California last month. But his coaches are trying to get him to be even more aggressive.

"We have a very knowledgeable staff," McAllister said. "When I was a player back in 1912, I had to throw the ball into big men, so I had to try to understand what they're all about. His teammates are a big reason for his development too, so he gets plenty of help from plenty of different guys."

"They're definitely making me more athletic, getting me better touches, post moves, all that stuff," Van Komen said.

Van Komen has already drawn interest from Utah and Utah State, but at just 210 pounds, he knows he has to put on weight.

"I just want to get as big as I can," he said.

Pleasant Grove hasn't won a state title since 1961, but with Van Komen in the middle, the Vikings may indeed reach new heights this season.

"It would be huge, but it wouldn't just be me," Van Komen said. "It would be my entire team, so we've all got to contribute."

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