A search of the St. Bonaventure men's basketball record book turns up a long line of standout names from the past century. Names like Lanier, Crawford, Stith, Nicholson, and Adams span the generations in a proud program. Take a look at the lists representing some of Bona's great sharpshooters and one of the names that pops up again and again is that of Chris Matthews.
While Matthews lit up the Reilly Center during his days in a Bonnies uniform, he's known worldwide to millions mostly by another name today – "Lethal Shooter."
Followed by more than a million basketball fans on Instagram, Matthews has found stardom in recent years through features by ESPN, Jordan Brand, Sports Illustrated and an appearance in a Mountain Dew commercial. This past month, it was announced that he is working with NBA2K video game creators to showcase his shot in upcoming versions of the game.
And though some fans at home watching might not realize it, he's helped mold many of the NBA's best jump shots.
So, yes, if you don't know the name Chris Matthews, your favorite NBA star certainly does.
Excited to continue working with @NBA2K in the coming years. Giving you all the opportunity to use the LETHAL shot is a dream come true. Thank you @Ronnie2K for believing in my jumper. We're all about to be locked in ��. Would you use that jumpshot?���� #NBA pic.twitter.com/c5nTo8N7Ce— Lethal Shooter (@LethalShooter__) October 1, 2020
And he credits his time at St. Bonaventure for laying the foundation of a coaching career that today sees him as perhaps the most in-demand skills coach in the game. The likes of Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Candace Parker and Skylar Diggins-Smith have all leaned on Matthews' expertise in what he calls "The Art of Shooting."
"I would say I made the best decision ever by going to St. Bonaventure," he says. "Coach Schmidt is going to get the best out of you. They were able to get something out of me I didn't know I had in myself. Academically as well, they pushed me to learn; to think outside the box. It gave me a foundation and a place to call home. St. Bonaventure did a lot for me both on and off the basketball court."
A McDonald's All-America nominee in his native D.C., he started his collegiate career at Washington State before transferring back to the East Coast with the Bonnies. He was one of the first key building blocks in turning around Bonaventure's program under Schmidt, immediately making his mark by draining 81 three-pointers in his first SBU season of 2008-09.
"The coaching staff was adamant about making a rise in the Atlantic 10 and I could tell they were serious," he recalls of the decision to make Bonaventure home. "I knew we would be able to turn it around. Coach Schmidt and his staff, Coach Fiske drilling you every morning. I knew that program was going to change."
He was the fastest player in program history to reach the century mark in threes, doing so in just 36 games, and set the then-team record for threes in a single game by draining eight on two separate occasions.
Matthews graduated as the program's single-season 3-point record holder, drilling 101 treys as a senior. In just 61 games of action, he ranks sixth all-time in career Bonnies threes. He was also instrumental in creating a culture of winning. Bona teammates who were underclassmen his senior season would go on to capture the A-10 championship just two years later.
Following his Bonaventure career, he played pro in multiple countries around the world, but injuries ultimately cut his playing days short. Though the opportunity to play professionally came to an end, he knew he needed to remain connected to the game.
"I've always wanted to be a coach," he says. "I played for Tony Bennett and watched him closely, I watched Coach Schmidt. I use those philosophies today. Since playing pro didn't go the way I wanted, there was a point where I said why not be a shooting coach and teach what you love. The art of shooting is something very serious to me."
And, in Matthews' teaching style, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
"Everyone learns differently. Everyone needs a different level of teaching," he said. "I study film on each player and tailor the teaching philosophy to the individual; different ways to attack how to change their muscle memory. The same philosophy I used when I was at St. Bonaventure I use with my NBA clients. You have to do this every single day, you have to master it every day. I learned that from Coach Schmidt."
His work continues to produce results for his clients. So much so that his long and impressive list of players coached continues to grow. Along with some of the top talents in the NBA, Matthews even works with some top celebrities: stars such as Drake and Michael B. Jordan have worked with Matthews on their games as well.
Matthews's influence on the game is unlikely to dwindle any time soon with the premium placed on high-level perimeter shooting only increasing at all levels of basketball.
"The analytics show that the better you shoot the 3, the better you are at the end of the game," he said. "The art of shooting is becoming more important than anything in today's basketball."
The numbers don't only show the importance of three-point shooting in basketball, but also speak to the following Matthews has on social media. With frequent appearances by stars of the game and the entertainment world showing up on his feed, along with viral workouts such as continually sinking jumpers on a hoop with no backboard earlier this summer, he is one of the best social media follows in basketball.
With his follower numbers on Instagram alone recently passing 1.5 million, he takes the platform to promote interests beyond basketball. It's a personal approach that was enforced during his time in Western New York.
"I use my platform for positive energy; teaching that everyone was born for a reason," he said. "The philosophy at St. Bonaventure, everybody is accepted, it doesn't matter the color of your skin or how tall you are. The love there is remarkable. What I try to do with my platform is to let everyone understand their worth."
With his mark on the basketball world already undeniable, what's next for Matthews? It may be a spot on an NBA bench as a team shooting coach.
"I've been offered a few jobs in the last few years, but I am being selective. If I go to a team I want to make sure it is the right fit," he said. "In the long run, I would love to see myself on a staff, helping a team win a ring."
Should he end up on an NBA staff in the future, that team is likely to add many new fans with connections to the place he still calls home. It's a place that has a basketball program he is proud to have watched continually grow since his own days wearing the Brown and White.
"It's a blessing to see where St. Bonaventure basketball is now and continue to see it rise," he said, smiling. "If you're looking for a university that will accept you, this is the place for you because everyone is going to accept you with open arms and help you make it in life. It's a place where you are always welcome. It's a great university."
- By Scott Eddy, Assistant Athletic Director for Athletics Communications
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