Matt Willkomm made the most of his two seasons on the Arroyo Grande High varsity basketball team.

Though most elite players spend their entire high school careers on the varsity level, Willkomm, a 6-foot point guard who also was his school's starting quarterback, quickly became one of the area's top players, seemingly overnight.

Willkomm, a 2013 graduate of the school, was a role player as a junior, helping the Eagles earn a PAC 7 League title and a berth in the CIF Southern Section Division 2A final during the 2011-12 season. He was the third-leading scorer on the Eagles as a junior, behind Brent VanderVeen and Gunnar Gomez.  Willkomm earned First Team All-League as a junior.

Then, he took control of the team as a senior. 

Willkomm, who has been nominated for the Times' Player of the Decade award, started off his final prep season quickly, scoring 16.4 points a game in 12 pre-season games. He earned All-Tournament honors at the Harding Invitational, the Jim Bashore Classic and the Eagles' annual Taro Kobara Memorial Tournament, during that run.

Then came the PAC 7 League season. Willkomm took his game up another notch and bumped his scoring average up to 20.4 points in the 10 league games he played in. Willkomm didn't win league MVP that year. Righetti's Cameron Walker and Atascadero's Robbie Berwick were named the league's co-MVPs. (Walker went on to play at Stanford and Berwick played at Florida State and Colorado State.) 

Willkomm kept that pace up in the postseason. The Eagles won three playoff games behind Willkomm's strong play, including the game-winning, buzzer-beating leaner he hit against Anaheim Canyon in the quarterfinals of the Division 2A playoffs. Willkomm scored 68 points in the Eagles' four playoff games in one of the Southern Section's toughest divisions. (They eventually lost to Redondo Union in the semifinals). 

Willkomm was named to the All-CIF team for his division. He averaged 18.2 points during the regular season. Willkomm's rise was apparent in the CIF win at Palm Desert when he was a junior, scoring 15 points and dishing out five assists to help the Eagles advance to their first CIF final since 1970. 

Willkomm is the only player in program history to play and start in the CIF State playoffs in consecutive years.

He wasn't done developing as a basketball player, though his days at AGHS were done. Willkomm eventually settled at Hancock College and ran the point for the Bulldogs for two seasons, earning All-Conference honors both years. Willkomm averaged 16.4 points a game in his sophomore season with the Bulldogs. He led Hancock to its most recent conference title and set the school record for most 3-pointers in a season with 87. He also held the career record in 3s with 148. 

After his days with the Bulldogs were done, Willkomm played for Arizona Christian, an NAIA school. In his final season with the Firestorm, Willkomm averaged a team-high 16.5 points per game, shooting 46% from the field and nearly 44% from 3-point range. 

The Times is polling current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade. The rest of the nominees will be announced before a tournament-style voting contest will be held to determine the boys basketball Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where between 2009-10 and 2019-20 are eligible.

There will be 16 nominees announced.

Willkomm and VanderVeen, both from Arroyo Grande, have been nominated. They join Righetti's Walker and five other nominees: Mission Prep's Quinton Adlesh, Cabrillo High grad LeAndrew Knight and former St. Joseph standouts JoJo Walker, Keith Datu and Case Bruton.

Player of the Decade Boys Basketball: Get to know the nominees before voting starts

It's almost time to vote in our boys basketball player of the decade poll, have you taken a moment to read about the nominees? Go through this collection of profiles and get ready for the voting.  We have been working to highlight the decade's best players in several different sports over the last few months, and now we continue with boys basketball. We've really enjoyed the level of participation we've had with the football and girls basketball polls, so share these profiles and the contest with your friends to get the word out and support our local athletes.  

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