BOYS BASKETBALL: Matthew Matheney inks with Jimmies, bets on personal growth
Matthew Matheney earned his way to a collegiate offer on the strength of his game’s development. He diversified his skill set to include more variety, a process that will continue into college.
BEMIDJI – Matthew Matheney is passionate about basketball.
So when it came time to determine a path to college, the Bemidji High School senior turned to his favorite sport and molded himself into a college-level prospect. Now, those travails have paid off, and Matheney has officially signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Jamestown men’s program starting with the 2023-24 season.
“You have options for colleges, you finally pick one,” Matheney described. “You tell your friends, they're so excited for you. You're hearing where your friends are going, you're so excited for them. It's an amazing feeling, finally taking a step out of high school and entering your adult life.”
Matheney earned his way to a collegiate offer on the strength of his game’s development over the past few seasons. He diversified his skill set to include more variety, a process that will continue into college.
“I really started looking into (playing in college) around sophomore year,” Matheney said. “I was like, ‘That would be pretty fun.’ Junior year, I started developing my game a little bit more, and then I started getting talked to by some coaches. And then senior year, when the offer finally hit, it was amazing. There's not really a feeling like it.”
He knows that pushing for playing time with the Jimmies will require greater discipline and personal sacrifice, and he feels he’s ready to make the commitment. Known as a knockdown shooter with the Lumberjacks, Matheney wants to add quickness and blow-by ability to his repertoire.
“This summer, I'm really going to work on being more aggressive,” he said. “I'm going to be working on my first dribble, getting past the person (guarding me). Because if I add that on top of shooting, it's going to be really dangerous. Right now, if I shoot, they're just closing out (on me). If I enhance my slashing, I can take them off the dribble; I can fake the drive, then shoot – it's going to add more options.”
Matheney is also striving to improve his defensive acumen. If he can pair proficiency on that end with his shooting ability, he’s most of the way to embodying a valuable archetype in modern basketball.
“I want to be an elite two-way player,” Matheney said. “I want to be (excellent defensively, offensively). I want to be able to be a player that makes my teammates better. … I would definitely love to be able to handle the ball more as I'm envisioning it (as well). That's something I'm definitely going to work on this summer.”
Jamestown is coming off an excellent season in 2022-23. The Jimmies finished with a record of 27-7, reaching the round of 16 in the NAIA national tournament. Matheney noted that Jamestown’s program vibe reminds him of his time with the Jacks – an exact match for what he searched for.
“When you have that kind of year, you always have a culture behind it,” he said. “I've seen the games. They look like they're having fun, but they're also not afraid to yell at each other.”
That accountability is something Matheney appreciates and something he knows he’ll need in spades to become an effective college player.
“I'm definitely trying to get into college shape, trying to get more physicality into my game,” he said. “I'm going to really try to stay disciplined. I feel like that's the main thing you need to do, whether it's academically or athletically. It can't just be motivation. You need to be disciplined and have to be able to do (important things) whether you want to or not.”
Matheney knows the road ahead may be difficult, but he’s summoning a dauntless mindset to face the challenge.
“I don't know if anyone ever really feels ready, but I think I'm as ready as I will be,” he said.