Matt Mooney is one of the stabilizing forces on offense for a Texas Tech team currently fighting Gonzaga for a spot in the Final Four. With a win over the Zags, the Red Raiders guard would be part of the program’s first-ever appearance.
He averages 10.9 points and 3.3 assists per game, as well as over 38 percent from behind the arc. While future NBA Draft pick Jarrett Culver takes much of the press in the backcourt, Mooney is able to punish defenses overly concerned with his star teammate. Against a tough Michigan defense in the Sweet 16, he canned 2 triples en route to 10 important points.
How did the senior end up in Lubbock with head coach Chris Beard? The answer is a long and winding journey. Let’s take a look.
Matt Mooney High School & Path to Texas Tech
Mooney is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Niles (Ill.). He attended Notre Dame College Prep, graduating in 2013. His only Division I offer came from Air Force, according to 247 Sports, since he was an unranked prospect.
He contributed for the Falcons as a freshman, averaging 19.2 minutes and 6.9 points per game. Mooney requested a release to transfer in the summer of 2014, citing hazing and the hesitance with the 5-year military commitment per the Chicago Tribune.
You’ve got to serve five years in the military. I honestly have no problem with the military, it’s just the Air Force Academy isn’t the same as the military. It’s a much different place. Freshman year here is really rough. It’s meant to be a year to see if you can stick it out and see if you’re ready for the military, but a lot of things go on that people don’t really realize. There’s a lot of bullying and things like that, honestly, because the system is [run] by upperclassmen. And freshmen have no power, whatsoever. It was just a rough year. It was kind of depressing, actually.
He ended up at South Dakota, where he established himself as a consistent perimeter threat in the Summit League. He averaged 18.7 points per game over 2 seasons, hitting over 35 percent of his 3’s each year.
He scored 30 points in a Summit League title game loss to South Dakota State last season, and also scored 30 or more points on 5 other occasions. Mooney went for 31 points against future Big 12 rival TCU in November.
The first-teamer in the Summit decided to transfer for his grad senior season. He chose Texas Tech over offers from Northwestern and Creighton, as well as interest from John Beilein at Michigan.
Digging deep from his religious roots at Notre Dame Prep, he cited Deuteronomy when he announced his decision on social media.
“The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
His fearlessness could be the difference Saturday night versus Gonzaga.