Matt Mooney Looking to Continue Basketball Dream in the NBA
By: Nick Nagel, ESPN 99.1 Reporter
After a tremendous Final Four season at Texas Tech, former USD guard Matt Mooney is now preparing for the next step in his career: the NBA Draft.
Mooney was USD’s go-to guy for two seasons accomplishing back-to-back First Team All-Summit League Teams, being the first Coyote to win the Summit League Transfer of the Year Award in 2017, and was named a Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American in the 2018 season.
After much thought and consideration after his junior season, Mooney decided to see what he could do at the power-five level and transferred to Texas Tech. Mooney averaged 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game last season while earning All BIG12 Second Team honors along with a First Team All-BIG12 Defensive Team bid. With a goal of possibly playing in the NBA one day, Matt believed that his move to Texas Tech would help his odds.
“Making that jump from mid-major to the NBA is a tough one. When I made that jump to a power-five, it was a quicker pace with bigger rim protectors and better athletes,” said Mooney.
Getting experience competing with those types of players would ultimately help Mooney get where he is today.
The Red Raider guard turned heads in the Final Four when he lit up Michigan State for 22 points on 50% shooting. This was the game that he believed got him to this opportunity. “Even though I had a solid regular season at Tech, I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that performance in the Final Four,” Mooney stated. His performance in the Final Four proved he could not only hold his own in big moments, he thrives in them.
Mooney recently signed with Octagon Sports Agency, which also represents NBA players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, and Trae Young. Octagon has been a very successful agency, especially for incoming professional basketball players such as Mooney.
Currently, Matt, along with a group of fellow draft hopefuls, is being trained by NBA trainer, Phil Beckner in Phoenix, Arizona. Beckner is best known to be Portland Trailblazer’s all-star guard Damian Lillard’s, main trainer. Mooney and the others have multiple workouts a day and learn firsthand what it takes from a training standpoint to make it to the league. This week, the group has a pro day in Phoenix where NBA scouts from multiple teams come to check out the talent.
So far, Mooney has worked out for two NBA teams: the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks. He also has multiple workouts lined up for the future with teams that include: the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons, and the Miami Heat.
Scouts believe that Mooney fits the mold of the NBA guard of today, which involves being a great shooter that can play on both ends. Mooney earned a First Team All-BIG12 Defensive Team spot and proved that he can defend some of the best players in college basketball.
“As of right now I don’t know that I’ll be drafted. My ceiling right now would be late second round, but I am hoping to earn a Summer League roster spot with a team and compete for a two-way contract,” Mooney explains.
After talking about his future plans, I asked Matt to reflect on his time at USD. “South Dakota is like a second home for me. I can’t thank USD and South Dakota enough for their love and support during my time there,” said Mooney. The Wauconda, Illinois native truly made his mark on South Dakota and will be loved and supported throughout his career at the next level.