Kelsey Hill

One of this year’s recruits, Kelsey Hill

Pepperdine Waves sports fans will have a few new faces to cheer for in upcoming athletics seasons. 

The university’s athletic department announced in the last month that four recruits have signed on to join the men’s basketball team and five recruits are hitting the pitch with the women’s soccer squad.

Six-foot-three guard Sedrick Altman, 6-foot-5 guard Skylar Chavez, 6-foot-5 guard Majok Deng and 6-foot-9 forward Jan Zidek will dribble, pass and shoot for the Waves men’s basketball team. 

Altman, from Colony High School, was the CIF Southern Section Division 2A Player of the Year and Palomares League MVP this year. The guard averaged 28.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.5 steals a game. He dropped 51 points in a contest the same night he verbally committed to Pepperdine. 

Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar called Altman a “tremendous athlete” and good player who can “score points in bundles” and make teammates better with his passing ability. 

Deng, from Arizona’s Salpointe Catholic High School, averaged 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds a game as a senior en route to making AZ Central’s All-Arizona team and being a finalist for the Player of the Year the second season in a row. 

Pepperdine’s coach said Deng, who scored more than 1,700 points in high school, is a talented player with great character and a winner. 

“Majok is the type of player that elevates everyone else’s play because of his infectious enthusiasm and high motor,” Romar said. 

Chavez, from Santa Rosa Junior College, led the state in scoring at 27.8 points a contest. The co-player of the year in Northern California and one of three Junior College players of the year had nine 30-point games and three 40-point games last season. 

Romar said Chavez is a complete basketball player. 

“In my 25 years of coaching at the Division I level, he’s probably one of the half-dozen best shooters that I will ever coach,” he said. 

Romar helped coach Zidek’s father, George Zidek, during UCLA’s 1995 championship season. Romar was one of the team’s assistant coaches. The younger Zidek, from Prague, Czech Republic, played with BK Wolves Radotin last season, and represented the Czech Republic at the 2016 U18 European Championship and the 2018 U20 European Championship. The forward will be part of his home country’s upcoming U20 camp. 

Romar said Zidek is a good shooter with a talented skill set. 

“He understands how to play,” Romar said. “He brings a level of physicality that we need. Along with his ability, he has great character as well as great work ethic.”

The five new Waves soccer players include four incoming freshmen—forward Alex Hobbs, midfielder and forward Shelby Little, forward Helen Schaefer and midfielder Jaida Smith. The fifth new player is defender Kelsey Hill, a transfer from Saint Mary’s. 

Pepperdine soccer coach Tim Ward said he and his staff are excited to have the quintet join the Waves, who finished last season with an 11-6-2 record. 

“Without a doubt, all of them have the quality and spirit that we have come to associate with the women who play for Pepperdine women’s soccer,” he said. 

Hobbs, a top goal scorer for the Seattle Reign Academy in Washington, posted 24 goals in 25 Developmental Academy games last season, ranking seventh in the nation. Ward called Hobbs one of the most creative strikers in the U.S.

“She has all the physical and mental tools to be a high-level collegiate striker,” he said. 

Little, from Thousand Oaks, played for Real So Cal her senior year and for the LA Galaxy in a previous season. She chose Pepperdine in order to play soccer at a high level and get an excellent college education. 

“I know I will be playing under coaches who will help me develop not only as a player, but also as a person,” she said. 

Schaefer, from La Crescenta, was an All-CIF first team member for three seasons and the Glendale Press Player of the Year in 2016-17. She scored 104 goals and had 72 assists in four seasons for Flintridge Preparatory.  

Schaefer chose Pepperdine because it is a competitive soccer program. 

“I know that it is a place that I will grow and be pushed to thrive as a person, a player and a student,” she said. 

Smith, from Mission Viejo, won a CIF championship and a state regional championship her freshman year at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. She also won three national championships with the LAFC Slammers. 

Smith immediately felt at home the first time she stepped on Pepperdine’s campus. 

“I discovered a unique community of people and overall atmosphere at the school that I hadn’t experienced anywhere else,” she said. “Pepperdine has everything I was looking for and more, and I feel so blessed to attend such an amazing university.”

In her two seasons at Saint Mary’s, one of the Waves’ West Coast Conference rivals, Hill started in all 38 matches and scored three goals. The Elk Grove native was a three-time all-league selection in high school. 

Hill said Pepperdine’s coaching staff and players are committed and always working hard. 

“The program is intense, and I feel like it will help me in achieving my goals,” she said. 

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