Before her sophomore year, Matthews transferred from Winslow to Paul VI. That was the first time she was forced to sit 30 days because of NJSIAA transfer regulations. Her decision to go back to Winslow cost her another 30 days this year.
"It was tough having to go through this twice," said Matthews, who transferred back for family reasons and returned to action on Jan. 14. "But one thing I told myself was that if I can't help my team on the court, I could definitely help them off the court as far as leadership and being there for them in any way that I could."
First-year coach Jean Gyurics was more than happy for the assistance.
"In game situations, Jada was like an active coach on the bench," she said. "She was always seeing things, and talking to me and talking to players.
"Coming into the season, she knew the other players and their tendencies more than I did; she's played with them for a long time. So she was actually quite helpful to me as I was putting my system in."
That's not to say that Gyurics isn't glad to have Matthews back on the court. After all, it wasn't Matthews' coaching ability that made the 6-foot guard one of the area's most highly recruited players.
Matthews, a strong, extremely athletic all-around player, spent the summer visiting schools around the country, from Villanova to Georgetown to Kentucky, before settling on George Washington in October.
"The academics were great, and I really liked the coaching staff," Matthews said.
Matthews is averaging more than 16 points in five games since returning to Winslow (5-8).
Her quick start is also something she said she owes to her work during the season's first 30 days.
"I knew I had to lift more, run more, train more. I knew what I had to do to prepare and come out strong," Matthews said.
"We just want to keep pushing and keep getting better every day in practice. Hopefully, as a team, we can keep progressing and pull out some big wins."
- Chris Melchiorre