By Dylan Butler
The father of a budding Queens basketball star is accusing Bayside basketball coach Chris Matesic of trying to recruit his 16-year-old son in what would be a violation of PSAL rules.
Wesner Frederique, whose son Wes, a 6-foot-guard was the leading scorer on the Bishop Loughlin freshman team last year, contends that Matesic called him several times and even visited his East Elmhurst home in late December in a bid to convince his son to transfer to Bayside High School.
“He called me and wanted to know if he could meet with me and Wes. He was very persistent,” Frederique told the TimesLedger. “I was going to call him, but as soon as I got home he called me and asked if he could come. He sat with my son and myself and he told us what he had to offer at Bayside.
“He was trying to recruit my son. He was trying to get my son to go to Bayside.”
Matesic denies recruiting.
“I don’t believe in recruiting. I don’t recruit,” Matesic said after Bayside’s 79-61 win over Canarsie in an interview Feb. 13. “The program attracts kids. Recruiting is a stressful waste of time. It attracts, the program attracts. Everything is clear in communication.”
Recruiting players is strictly prohibited in the Public School Athletic League as stated on the league’s Web site: “It is the policy of the Department of Education that no school through any of its officers or by any other means shall directly or indirectly offer inducement to any student to sever connections with his/her school or to transfer schools for athletic purposes.”
According to sources at the PSAL, the league has received phone calls from high school coaches about Matesic’s alleged recruiting of Frederique. But because the PSAL has not gotten a formal written complaint, the league has yet to investigate the claim.
A PSAL official declined to elaborate on the specifics of the rule but said “any allegations of recruiting will be investigated.”
Matesic, who played at Westchester Community College and Hunter College, has helped Bayside become one of the city’s better teams in his first year as varsity basketball coach.
After first being hired by Bayside Athletic Director Jim Mattel to coach the girls’ junior varsity team in 2000, he led the boys’ junior varsity team to a 31-3 record and a pair of division titles.
The 29-year-old yoga instructor this year took the Commodores to the Queens Borough Championship game — where they lost to rival Cardozo — and his team lost Tuesday to Boys and Girls in the second round of the PSAL Class ‘A’ playoffs.
But Matesic’s biggest challenge may come off the court, where he is defending himself against the recruiting allegations.
Matesic said he has had conversations with the Frederiques but emphasized that he did not make the initial contact. Matesic said he first learned about Wes Frederique’s desire to transfer to a PSAL school from an unnamed coach.
Matesic denied visiting them in their home.
“As for going to someone’s home,” Matesic said Friday, “that’s not something I’m committed to.”
Frederique said Matesic followed up the alleged home visit by watching his son play with the Bishop Loughlin junior varsity team in a tournament at St. Peter’s on Staten Island earlier this season.
“At first my son was mad that I let him come over. He said, ‘I thought I was going to go to Cardozo,’” Frederique said. “Then Matesic told him that it would be his team, that he would build the team around him.”
While he called Matesic “very convincing” and the coach’s supposed interest in his son “flattering,” Frederique decided to enroll his son at Benjamin Cardozo High School in January.
If Frederique had transferred to another Catholic High School, he would have been forced to sit out a year before playing under CHSAA rules. By transferring to a PSAL school, Frederique will be eligible to play next season.
The PSAL also altered its rules regarding transfers between schools this year, essentially allowing any athlete to switch schools for any reason without being forced to miss any playing time.
“The main reason I wanted my son to go to Cardozo was academics. He’s gone to private schools all his life, from St. Gabriel’s to Bishop Loughlin,” Frederique said. “I wanted to be careful what public school I chose. I didn’t want to lose academically and I heard that Cardozo was one of the best academic schools in New York.”
When Frederique told Matesic about his intentions to send his son to Cardozo, he said Matesic allegedly hinted that Cardozo Judges star forward Theo Davis or even longtime coach Ron Naclerio might not be there when his son plays his first varsity game next year.
Frederique said Matesic mentioned the search for a new coach at St. John’s and that Naclerio could possibly be on the Red Storm coaching staff next season.
According to Naclerio, Davis, a highly sought-after 6-foot-10 forward, came to him to inform the coach about what Davis believed to be Matesic’s wish for him to play at Bayside next year. After several months of allegedly trying to court Davis for his summer travel team, Matesic’s conversations with him began to include the possibility of transferring to Bayside, Naclerio said.
“I heard the rumors and now I’m finding out it has some credibility to it because Theo also told me that Matesic told him in a round-about way he wanted him to play for him at Bayside next year,” Naclerio said.
Matesic denied attempting to recruit Davis.
“I’m not in communication with Theo Davis,” he said. “I’m not in communication with him to go to Bayside High School.”
In addition to coaching the Bayside varsity basketball team, Matesic also coaches the New Heights Warriors (formerly known as the CAS Warriors), a highly competitive travel team that competes in the spring and summer.
He is one of just two varsity coaches in the PSAL to also coach a summer team.
The other, Dwayne “Tiny” Morton — the head coach of two-time defending city champion Lincoln as well as the Juice All-Stars — is currently being investigated by the Department of Education, according to DOE spokeswoman Margie Feinberg, who declined to elaborate on the investigation. He was suspended in 2002 on charges of recruiting players.
The girls’ coach at Lincoln, Rueben McLaughlin, is currently suspended for allegedly recruiting Jazmine Sepulveda, a senior point guard who transferred from Bishop Loughlin.
While not sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union, the New Heights Warriors played in major summer basketball tournaments last year, including the Adidas Big Time tournament in Las Vegas.
Morton’s Juice All-Stars, featuring Louisville-bound Sebastian Telfair, also played in the tournament.
“I think it’s important for me to be coaching high school because it allows me to work with more student-athletes,” Matesic said. “There’s not enough coaches training kids to be champions and student-athletes. I see a gap and I have to fill it.”
Mattel said he found out about Mastesic’s work with the New Heights Warriors at the start of the basketball season, but he does not believe there is a conflict of interest.
“What he does on the outside is not my concern,” Mattel said. “He hasn’t come to me and asked me to help him get anyone into the school.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.