Matt Mooney was an unranked prospect out of high school with only one Division 1 scholarship offer. Fast forward to today and the Wauconda, Illinois native will lace em up tonight for a shot at an NCAA title with his Texas Tech mates..
What makes tonight’s game, and moment even more special is Mooney has ties in South Dakota. From East River to West, Everyone is a Red Raider fan tonight!!!
Sacred Hoops 15-U, East River, boys coach Greg Kahler shares his story about knowing Matt Mooney as more than a basketball player
I spent my first 2 years of college at USD where I served as a Student Manager for the Coyote Mens team. I walked into the gym for the first time, surveyed my surroundings, looked at all the players and coaches present. I didn’t know anyone there. I was like the new kid that walks into the middle of class and everyone stops and stares at you.
As I sat there awkwardly, Matt approached me right away, introducing himself to me and engaging in small talk. I was instantly captivated by him. His presence is as genuine as it gets. He really just acts like himself, he doesn’t put a mask on of what others want him to be.
It wasn’t long before I found myself getting late night texts from Moon asking if I could come rebound for him in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center. I’ve always told myself there’s no better place on earth than an empty gym so anytime be called, I was there.
Once you get to know Moon, you learn right away that he’s a little goofy but also is an extreme perfectionist. I remember him spending 10-15 minutes showing me how he wants me to pass the ball to him. He took his training very seriously, so everything had to be perfect. At first I thought he was a little nuts for going to that extent, but, that’s just Moon. Every little detail has to be to his standard. I firmly believe that’s why he’s the player he is today.
I often get asked what kind of things Moon would work on In our late night workouts. The answer is, not a whole lot. He’s a believer in fundamental reps. He wanted to work on stuff that he saw in games—catch and shoot threes off screens, coming off ball screens into a pull up jumper. Nothing crazy or fancy. Just purposeful reps that led to big time performances.
This wasn’t a once or twice a week occasion. Moon was in the gym every day on his own free time. Regardless if he had practice that day. He didn’t care how tired he was, or how late it was. He only knew one thing... You have to sacrifice what you are for what you will become. He told himself that the only thing that could quench hunger, was more hunger. So he adopted the mindset that he’d never be outworked.
I’m thinking back to 2017. When Michael Orris hit that shot to send State onto the Summit Championship game. I remember Matt having this look in his eye. One of both sadness and fire. He didn’t say a word in the locker room or on the bus ride home.
I woke up early that next morning and made my way to the SCSC. Only to find Moon in there, by himself, just shooting. I go back to when I said there’s no better place than an empty gym. I could tell he was there to escape from reality. He just wanted to be left alone. Later I’m in the locker room. I walk by Matt’s locker and see a piece of paper taped on the door. On it was written, “71-74.” Underneath that was written “3/6/17.” That was the date and final score of the SDSU-USD Semi-Final game.
He taped that in his locker because it was a reminder. A reminder of what that night felt like for him. It was a reminder to him to push harder regardless of the circumstances. And he did just that. Anytime we were in the gym working out, there were very few words said during the workout. His focus was 100% on the perfect rep. He wouldn’t allow any mistakes and flaws to happen. If a mistake was made, he’d start over. That can make for a long night in the gym. He didn’t care. Neither did I. I was blown away by his work ethic. His desire to be great. I’m just glad I got to be apart of it.
Anyone who has been in the gym with me has more thank likely heard a story or two about Matt.
I reference him a lot. Many times I’ll give him a call or FaceTime him so the kids I’m working with can pick his brain about things. Most people would find that annoying. Not Moon. In fact, he loves giving back. He’s honestly one of the most selfless individuals I know. He’s a player I think all players should try and emulate. Both in the way he plays and by his character.
True story: From a Katie Didier Sayler post yesterday….
In honor of Matt Mooney and Texas Tech awesome win tonight. I thought I would share a story about Joe, Kalan, and Ethan and their opportunity last summer to facetime Matt Mooney thanks to Greg Kahler hooking them up. Matt Mooney took the time to visit and answer some questions about college and how he got to where he was today from kids who asked on a whim, not thinking it was actually going to happen. Pretty cool for kids that care an awful lot about basketball. This also tells a lot about Matt Mooney character. Good Luck Texas Tech in the championship round!
I asked one of the kids I worked out with what he took away from Mooney’s words and this is what he said,
He always stated to me that there is no time to feel pressure when you have put the time in the gym in preparation for anything that can be thrown at you. I always texted him for advice and within a short few hours I would have a response back. He isn’t like a normal college athlete, he took time to help guide me and continue to grow in my game. Knowing him for 2 years his character is unlike anything I have ever seen.
Matt has always been about everyone around him. He’s always wanted to make a difference. He always plays with a chip on his shoulder. But above all else, win or lose, he always gives glory to the one who blessed him with his talents in the first place.
Matt this is my message to you. I couldn’t be more proud of you. I absolutely wouldn’t be where I’m at today if my path didn’t cross yours. Every day I get the privilege to tell athletes your story. In my mind you’re the type of player everyone should want to be like. Thank you for being like a big brother to me. More importantly, thank you for being my hero.
From Air Force, to South Dakota, now at Texas Tech. The journey has led Matt to where he is today. Playing for a National Championship. Hats off to you Moon. South Dakota is rooting for ya.