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Matthew + Jayden Hodge Q&A

Credit: Scott Faytok | NJ Advanced Media

Last year, brothers Matthew and Jayden Hodge made the trek across the Atlantic Ocean from Belgium to Belmar, New Jersey, and have since emerged as nationally-touted prospects in their respective classes. The Hodge brothers are the sons of Odell Hodge, an Old Dominion great and the second all-time scorer in Virginia high school basketball history. Attending St. Rose High School (NJ) and playing for PSA Cardinals (NY) in the Nike EYBL, both Matthew and Jayden were standouts last summer for the Belgium National Team in the FIBA U18 European Championships Division B and the FIBA U16 European Championships Division B, respectively.

In this interview with Pro Insight’s Conrad Chow, the Hodge brothers discussed each other’s strengths, representing Belgium, the opportunity to play for Coach Munch and the PSA Cardinals, and much more.

For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 and 2026 prospects Matthew and Jayden Hodge, from Houthalen-Helchteren, Belgium:

Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family. Let’s start with Matthew.

Matthew Hodge: So yeah, my name is Matthew [Hodge]. I'm all the way from Belgium playing at St. Rose High School all the way in Belmar, New Jersey. So I'm a basketball player. I came to the states, I came to America to combine basketball and my studies to be able to go to college, get an education and also play basketball at one of the highest levels possible. So that's one of the main reasons we came here. We also had a good connection with someone that's currently our coach at St. Rose, who also lived over here in Belgium, so we knew him for a long time. We went on vacation and then we kind of went to the school and see if we wanted to do something like this because there's always a dream of me and my brother to play college basketball, and there's no better way than to get into the high school picture first and get started with recruiting and everything. So we kind of jumped into it and we're excited that we were able to go to St. Rose.

Jayden Hodge: I'm in the class of 2026. It has been very nice. This is my first year in the states, so both of our first years. We definitely enjoyed playing for St. Rose. I’m the point guard/shooting guard and played for PSA Cardinals. First season playing AAU was very nice, great basketball. I think coming into my sophomore year, it will be a great year for St. Rose and PSA.

PI: Your dad played basketball at Old Dominion and later, professionally — what is the best advice you’ve received from him?

Matthew: Just the work ethic, like, nothing is given to you. I would say like we all make sacrifices and he always told us because he stayed over in Belgium with our mom, that you guys are making sacrifices now. There's not a lot of people that will leave the place they live forever to go overseas and play the game you love, to go play basketball. So it's all part of it and the sacrifice you make will pay off one day.

Jayden: He always said, “never give up. Just always put in your hard work and then it will pay off.” Yeah, so the sacrifices, everything that we do, we keep on grinding and hope the best will come for us, you know?

PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?

Matthew: We both kind of played a bit of soccer and tennis.

Jayden: Yeah, we tried.

Matthew: We tried all those sports, but we all knew that basketball was the sport that we’d play.

Jayden: Because of our height, our parents. Yeah, they both played basketball.

Matthew: So yeah, it was pretty obvious.

PI: Besides your parents, any other athletes in the family?

Jayden: Not our grandparents, but our uncle. Yeah, he did play basketball at a pretty high level in Belgium. I think it was the highest level in Belgium.

Matthew: Yeah, the highest level of Belgium.

Jayden: And he's also pretty tall. So yeah, I think that's it in our family.

PI: Matthew, how would you describe Jayden’s strengths?

Matthew: Jayden’s strengths, I would say, is his ability to play defense, but mostly play both ends of the court. He's a great playmaker, scorer, shooter, and passer — he's pretty versatile, but I think the thing he takes pride in that a lot of people don’t see is his defensive effort. He will always defend the best player on the opposite team, no matter the age he is. This year, he guarded the best players as young as he is, so the pride on the defensive end, I feel like it's the most unique thing about my brother.

PI: Jayden, how would you describe Matthew’s strengths?

Jayden: I would say Matt is a great teammate to have on your team. He finds a way to get guys open, he plays the five for us, but he also plays the one at the same time, so he gets us open, he gets himself open. He plays defense. He just does everything on the court for us and definitely in high school. And yeah, he just does a great job and helps us win. He's a shooter, driver, defender. He can do it all for us.

PI: Who do you each model your game after or study on film?

Matthew: I would say I don't really have one player I look at. I just look at the players that are pretty versatile on each team that can do all the things. You have a player that can guard one-through-four or one-through-five, even switch everything. I look at those kinds of players that have no weakness and players that are great utility guys on both sides of the basketball court.

Jayden: Yeah, I definitely look at guys like Paul George, tall guards that defend, can dribble the ball, can score. So yeah, definitely look at like Penny Hardaway, Jayson Tatum, those types of guys, definitely.

PI: Talk a bit about your experiences and aspirations with the Belgium National Team.

Jayden: Yeah, I played last year on the 16s as a first-year and I think it was great. We played in Division B. We made it to the final four and ended up losing to Germany in the semi-finals, ended up winning against Bulgaria, got third place, and ended up making it into Division A. So this year, now we are preparing for Division A. We just had preparation games in Turkey. So now, we are preparing for the big tournament in Skopje and hoping to make it to the World Cup, that's a big goal. So yeah, the journey was very nice. I like playing for my country and just doing the best I can.

Matthew: I mean it's always an honor to be able to represent your country and I had the opportunity to play for them last year. Unfortunately, this year it fell at the same time as Peach Jam, so I had to make a decision and I chose for Peach Jam to get that experience, as well, which I felt was important for my recruiting process, but it’s always an honor for us to represent our country.

PI: Speaking of Peach Jam, describe your experience with PSA Cardinals. How did the opportunity come about?

Matthew: It all went fast and like my dad knew someone that knew someone and then he knew [Coach Terrance] “Munch,” and that's how we came in contact with Munch with a couple of Zoom calls and we just knew right away that's our type of guy that we would like to play for and it's a great program that just wants to help young kids play the right way and also teach them to do things right way not only on the basketball court, but also like outside of the basketball court, which I felt like was really important to get that experience, too. So overall, just a great experience for me with PSA.

Jayden: Yeah, I just never had played an AAU game before. Never knew what it was. I think PSA did a great job for me in our first year. I really enjoyed it. I really liked it on and off the court. So yeah, thank you. I love it there.

PI: Have you read the book Our PSA, yet?

Matthew: Yeah, yeah. We did.

Jayden: The book, yes.

Matthew: He gave it to us after like the first time we saw him and we read a little bit of it, yeah.

Jayden: It's nice.

Matthew: It's been a couple months since we last read it. I might have forgotten some.

Jayden: It's been a bit.

Matthew: It was like back in September when he gave it to us. So that's a good excuse to forget (laughs).

PI: What is your recruitment update? Who have you guys been hearing from the most, lately?

Matthew: So it's been pretty active for me. At the moment I'm back in Belgium so I told every coach that I want to spend time with family for a little bit, and so it's been pretty cool now, but I played with my high school team before Peach Jam in the Philly Live Period. I had some good games there and there were a lot of scouts there and teams that saw me so it kind of blew up a little bit for me. I could say new teams came in and new interests like Marquette, Alabama, like those kinds of teams came in and offered me and I felt like that was a huge step to now taking and thinking like what schools I want to visit, who's going to be on my final list, and then I feel like I'll be able to make a commitment around November. That's where my recruiting process is at.

Jayden: For me, it's a little different because I feel like I have more time than he did. So I think that there's a couple of schools that definitely follow him that are also looking at me and recruiting me. So, yeah.

PI: Have you guys had a dream school growing up?

Matthew: Yeah, I had a couple. I felt like my dream school was three schools I liked to watch. It was Villanova, Virginia, and Duke. Duke was my favorite school when I was watching as a kid.

Jayden: My dream school was North Carolina, the opposite of Duke (laughs). My parents love North Carolina.

Matthew: Yeah, we always had that rivalry.

Jayden: Michael Jordan. Of course, my favorite basketball player of all time. So yeah, just North Carolina.

PI: There are a lot more post-grad options available these days with G League Ignite, OTE, and NBL, among others. Have you and your family done much research into those opportunities?

Matthew: Yeah, we kind of did, but we knew right away that the reason we came here was also to get the college experience. So the study part of it and the school part of it felt like something we wanted to experience too with basketball. So those options were there and we really considered them too if we would have got the opportunity, but I feel like we are looking at the college way.

PI: Have you guys talked about teaming up at the next level?

Jayden: Yeah, definitely. I feel like if Matt goes to this team and they start recruiting me, yeah, it will kind of affect [my choice] just like knowing that you could play with your brother again and just that it will definitely have an effect on my college decision. I would love to play with my brother again. He's just a great teammate to have.

Matthew: I always tell him that it's up to him. It’s going to be his recruitment so I won't mind if he ends up choosing me or if he doesn't, it's totally up to him. But obviously I would love to play with him again after high school.

PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?

Jayden: I would say American football.

Matthew: I like watching soccer. I watch the European teams, Champions League.

PI: Who are your favorite music artists?

Matthew: Lil Baby

Jayden: Ah yeah, Lil Baby.

PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?

Matthew: #Leader.

Jayden: #Hardworker.

PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?

Matthew: Probably like a basketball court in my backyard.

Jayden: That's a tough one. I would say probably a car, maybe.

PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?

Matthew: I want to work in business, sports management, something around business and management.

Jayden: Yeah, same for me. Exactly the same.

PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Matthew: I would say like cocky players — players that are very cocky without showing something, yeah.

Jayden: Yeah, and they just start talking trash to you and they’re actually not even better than you or not even like on my level, something like that. Yeah, stuff like that.

PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?

Jayden: Oh, I haven't really thought about that.

Matthew: I don't really have a dream NIL.

PI: Any favorite brands, restaurants, etc.?

Jayden: Probably Chipotle or like Chick-fil-A.

Matthew: Yeah, or Wing Stop.

PI: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Matthew: I think my goal is to get to the NBA, but hopefully with a college degree. Hopefully the NBA.

Jayden: Yeah, same for me. In five years, I hope I will be in college playing college ball, yeah.

PI: Name four words that best describe you.

Jayden: Basketball, family, friends, and probably work.

Matthew: Family, food, friends, and then I would say basketball.

PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?

Matthew: I want to be remembered as a winner. My goal is everywhere I go, I help my team win — in college, further in my career, not only my last year in high school, I want to be known as a winner, so that's something I want to be known for.

Jayden: I want to be known as a player that always shows respect and just wants to win. Yeah, I just want to win, definitely.


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