"It's All About The Game"
Matthews has worked and it shows
Ron Bailey, Publisher
Due to hard work, Chris Matthews has taken his game to the next level.
Matthews, who finished high school at Philadelphia Lutheran before attending Washington State before transferring to and graduating from St. Bonaventure in 2010, has long been a good basketball player; since high school and beyond Matthews has proven himself a great shooter. That work was on display in Nike Pro City summer league action last year, where he routinely spotted up for jumpers that splashed in.
Formerly Matthews was a guard that could drive, but frequently stayed within his offensive wheel house – hitting outside shots. That’s changed now.
Chris Matthews going to the cup last summer in Nike Pro City play.
Recently in an open gym, Matthews was getting to the cup almost at will. Not only did he finish at the rim, but other times found open players for easier shots. Couple that with work performed in recent stints in Mexico, the Eastern Basketball Alliance and the NBA D-League, and it’s fair to label Matthews the classic combo guard now – a guy that can toggle between both backcourt positions.
“Everybody knows my jumper, but now I’m pulling up, getting to the free throw lines” said Matthews of the transformation. “I’m using my body now”.
Standing 6’4”, 215 pounds, his frame is a plus when going to the cup. Paul Mokeski, his coach with the in the D-League’s Reno Big Horns this season stressed that. A former teammate there, Blake Ahern was also helpful in aiding Matthews in changing his game. Now in the ‘L’ with Utah’s Jazz, Ahern “taught me little things about being a point guard” shared Matthews. Also beneficial was “Playing against him every day in practice”, as it “really helped”.
Matthews took those lessons/development to Mexico, where he starred for Durazneros de Paquime. That Chihuahua-based franchise received “ 27 pts, six rebounds and eight assists playing the one (point guard) shared Chris. He dubbed the on court experience good, as point guard minutes were had and “The players play hard. They don’t take losing easily”. Off the floor was also enjoyable since “The food was good and the people treat you well”; he interacted with local citizens and enjoyed their culture.
After Durazneros lost in the playoffs, Matthews returned to the Nation’s Capital around two weeks ago, combo guard focus in tow. “That was good, when I came home from playing in Mexico I picked right up with Madness” shared Chris of playing for the Eastern Basketball Alliance’s Madness franchise”.
While playing for one of D.C’s EBA entries, Matthews concentrated on “Being a vocal leader, doing what I needed to do to win”. That they did, as the team made EBA’s semi-final round, before falling. His overall EBA numbers were 26.8 points, five rebounds and six assists, while saving the best for last – Chris finished with 34 points, six rebounds and seven dimes in three quarters (first playoff game against Harrisonburg ), plus 39 points and 10 rebounds (second elimination contest versus Hudson Valley).
His overall focus since last summer? “I have been not only getting to the rim, but finding people” Matthews shared. In terms of dimes – increasingly a lost art that’s underappreciated by many – Chris has embraced them, saying “I’m way more efficient in that now….my whole focus is to be a good overall basket ball player. If I have a seam I’m going to take it, if my teammate is open I’ll get him the ball. If I have a jumper I’ll take”.
Matthews in Madness silks.
Sounds like the 26 year old Matthews’ game has matured. His coach at Madness, Larry Bowden has seen the growth.
“The main thing about it is Chris has an unbelievable work ethic” said Bowden, who answered over the background noise of bouncing balls (the coach is a gym rat). “He’s being a real professional…expanding his game. Everybody already knew he could flat out shoot it. Now he’s being more diverse”.
Bowden has not been surprised at Matthews’ development: “He’s been around for awhile, and he’s taking the challenge of competing in this global basketball environment”.
Up next for Matthews is an upcoming European league camp in California in June, where professional opportunities are earned. Before that, locally he plans to participate in a five on five tournament sponsored by Red Bull at Gallaudet University, scheduled for May 16th.
Each time he steps on the court, expect Matthews to not only improve, but make teammates better.
Save the Date:
The Battle of the weekend Warriors, held this year in Wilmington, NC on August 3rd, 4th and 5th, was started in 1989. Run by Lonnie Payton, some of the best players in the country will be there and have historically participated.
The Battle is open to anybody, with the exception of current NCAA Division I and II players this year, as there will be a 10,000 worth of cash prizes going to first four finishing teams.
Why did Payton start this labor of love?
“I felt like at the time, with the talent I had in coordinating and organizing things, I could do it” revealed Payton via telephone. “Plus I thought Wilmington, with a city of this size, didn’t keep the gyms open here. I had no idea it would blossom as it has. Now we have teams from all over the nations – from as far as away as Cleveland oho, Columbus oh. We’ve had calls from as far away as California”.
Those interested, call 910.399.6474 or visit the Battle of the Weekend Warrior's website.
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