“Lethal Shooter” Discusses The HBCU Elite 100 Prospect Camp And Why He’s Devoted Himself To Inspiring The Youth
Chris Matthews, also known as “Lethal Shooter”, speaking at the HBCU Elite 100 Prospect Camp that … [+]
There might not be a more applicable social media handle than Chris Matthews’ “Lethal Shooter.”
His shooting prowess and teaching has made him one of the most sought after shooting coaches for some of the biggest names in the NBA, WNBA and entertainment world. While his Instagram does allow us a small glimpse into some of his work with those high-profile clients, he considers his tutelage to the youth as his biggest responsibility.
Matthews was recently a guest speaker at the HBCU Elite 100 Prospect Camp last weekend in Stone Mountain, GA. The camp emphasized fundamental skill development and provided recruiting exposure to HBCU’s rather than the traditional big-name collegiate programs. Along with getting to work hands-on with some of the top prospects in the Southeast to help their shooting skills, Matthews also got to spread the importance of the campers looking beyond the game of basketball to discover ways they can make an impact on their community and society.
Recommended For You
Matthews spoke with me on the message he imparted on the kids at the camp, his process in working with professionals and entertainers. He also discussed the importance he places on impacting the youth and how his upbringing shaped all that he’s doing today.
I have to start things off with this. When you miss a shot, what goes through your head?
Chris Matthews: Normally, when I miss a shot, it’s small variables. I wouldn’t say I’m in shock because I am human and I’ve missed a lot of shots to get where I’m at today. When I do miss, I know how to make the adjustments to make the next one. Me missing three or four in a row is not going to happen as much because of all the reps I’ve taken and understanding how to make the adjustments when I shoot.
How many shots do you get to put up a day?
CM: When I was playing professionally, I would try to make 500 a day. Right now, with a pregnant wife and a daughter, I probably shoot 200-250 a day to make sure that my muscle memory is strict so when I have to shoot in front of large crowds or for Instagram Live, I’m at my best to show them the art of shooting.
How was the experience of speaking with some of the top prospects in the country at the HBCU Elite 100 Prospect Camp?
CM: It was a blessing to be a part of something that was a first. There are so many camps throughout the world that help exposure for talent for universities but I don’t think there are any camps that are just solely for HBCU’s. To be a part of something like that is priceless. I didn’t go to an HBCU but the history I know now, had I known back then, I might have considered going to one of those universities. It was impactful to help spread the knowledge of black universities and help youth understand that not everyone is going to go D1, or to the Michigan’s, Duke’s and North Carolina’s.
It’s OK if an HBCU considers you. You should take the time to go on that visit because it’s the education that’s the most important thing. If more understand that it doesn’t matter the college that you go to — it matters what you do when you’re in college to make an impact — I think we can start reversing the view that people have on black colleges. Back in the day, all the top athletes would go to an HBCU. It was a blessing to be able to educate young, black youth on what’s going on.
When you’re working with kids, is that a different challenge and responsibility for you?
CM: A lot of people don’t see it on my page but my life is more devoted to the youth. I am known for training NBA, WNBA players and celebrities, but 95% of my life is basically for the youth. That’s why my message with training is not always about basketball. It’s about the daily struggles of being a teen, what’s going on in society, how to use positive outlooks on situations and how to say no to certain things. When you train youth, it’s more pressure because there is a sense of nurturing there. My job is to use basketball and my influence to elevate someone’s mental to see that there is more to this than just sports. My whole brand is about uplifting the youth to show that even if basketball doesn’t work, you can still help change the world.
While Matthews has trained some of the biggest names in the NBA, WNBA and entertainment world, he … [+]
As far as the overall landscape of college basketball, what do you think would happen if these top prospects choose HBCU’s over the big-name collegiate programs?
CM: It would make it an even playing field. When I was coming out, I had Pac-10, Big East on my mind. You are infatuated by what you see on TV so we always wanted to go to the schools you see on TV. The HBCU’s don’t get TV time or the love from the national media outlets. If more of the top kids went to HBCU’s, it would just help level that playing field and also create a pipeline for more kids wanting to go there and get their education there. If you look at things now, a kid might turn down an HBCU just to go to JUCO. I’m not knocking JUCO’s, but why turn down a university? Education is an education but I feel kids are programmed just like how I was to go with what you see on TV.
What is your message to kids who all have pro aspirations but haven’t thought much on anything besides that?
CM: It’s the same thing I said at the camp. In our communities, we push basketball, football and rapping. We don’t teach any of the youth to realize they can do anything they want to in life by expanding their mind outside of this box we kind of create. I think we have to do a better job of that in our communities. You can push sports but lets educate our young men and women to do other things as well. The big thing we’re seeing now is athletes aren’t just using their money on cars and possessions. They’re buying properties, investing in companies and things we weren’t privy to in the past because we would just see the chains, cars and materialistic things.
All of it starts with the parents and communities. You can be hard on a kid with sports but while you’re being hard on them, make sure they’re getting an education as well. If sports doesn’t work out, they can still impact the world in a different way. I think the more we expand that messaging in our communities, the more we can impact the world and show just how great of a people we are.
You’ve worked with a few guys that are competing in this year’s Finals. Can you discuss what the process is from when an athlete reaches out for your coaching?
CM: Say you reach out to me on Monday and inform me you’re having issues with your shooting. I’ll ask for film to study you because every project might not be a project for me. I’m a realist and I’ll tell you if I feel I can help you or if I can’t. I’ll watch film on someone for about a week and a half and check back in with them to let them know that I know what they’re doing wrong. There will be a trail period and if they like it, we’ll keep at it. That’s why I’m able to train the people that I train because after one or two lessons, they’ll see that I understand why they’re missing and that I can help make changes to fix their shot to make it more consistent.
It’s definitely a blessing to understand how to teach someone the art of shooting because I had to go through the same process myself. I was a shooter myself. My senior year at St. Boneventure, I was No. 1 in the Atlantic-10 and No. 5 in the nation in three’s made. It was because of the reps and drills that I put myself through. Why not hire someone that did it in games and at a high level? When someone reaches out to me, my level of confidence after I leave them is very high because I know what I gave them to help them succeed at a high level.
There are guys that have these bad habits that have been ingrained since youth. How much of what you give them is mental as it is with trying to change mechanics?
CM: The good thing about muscle memory is that it’s memory. You can reverse memory through repetition. There are situations where someone might be a bit older and they’ve been shooting a certain way since they were young. I can’t come in and train with the person for two weeks and they think they’re going to have a jump shot. That takes time. If you’re have certain mechanics, it’s going to take time to reverse that so the person can understand what they were doing wrong.
If someone has a bad shooting motion, the first thing is they have to want to make a change. As soon as you second guess that you want to make that change, you’re going to go back to what’s comfortable for you when you get back to game situations. In the NBA, you see everyone shoots good during the summer, but in games is where it really matters and that’s what matters because that’s where people go back to what’s comfortable.
You were someone that had to make another way for yourself when your playing career ended. Who did you lean on just to help you find another avenue through the game?
CM: My mom and dad always pushed me throughout life. I did have times where I didn’t think I would be successful because I was injury-prone since high school. The one thing my parents did was instilled never giving up. They were making sure I was doing my work and my dad was speaking greatness on my life. There were times when we didn’t have heat because they were giving me money to make sure I was good on certain trips for basketball. There were certain times we didn’t have lights because they were investing into my career. They went all out for me and that’s why my message is always the same. I watched them sacrifice for me and it’s my job to sacrifice to the youth to help give back.
Back home, there was a man named Delonte Taylor Sr. that invested so much time into me and my community. Growing up in D.C., my neighborhood in Ward 5 was drug infested and there were killings happening. He kept me and my friends in the gym to let us know that we didn’t have to be involved with any of that. He wanted us to stay focused to see that we could make it out. I remember the coaches that gave us jerseys and we were the Junior Wizards. They would drive us around to keep us out the neighborhood. When you’re in your neighborhood, you hoop but when you’re done, you never know what can happen on the block.
A lot of my friends got killed and it’s a lot of things that are still going on today in D.C. I was just one of the lucky ones to have my mom, dad and mentors push me even when I was at an all-time low to be where I’m at in life.