By Chris McManes

Chris Matthews, who spent part of his childhood in College Park and is better known as Lethal Shooter, is recognized as one of the premier shooting coaches in the world. He often works with NBA and WNBA stars. 

On April 22, he instructed youngsters at the University of Maryland’s (UMD) Ritchie Coliseum.

“The one thing I try to do every time I come back home,” Matthews said, “is to show the youth I appreciate them and, most importantly, to give back like the people gave back to me when I lived in College Park.”

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Lakeland’s own Chris Matthews speaks with young players in College Park on April 22.
Credit: Courtesy of Stephen Blackwell and Antonya da Silva

Matthews presented the Community Unity Youth Clinic and Basketball Game along with the Jeffrey Winslow Foundation, which is named after his father, and the university’s Office of Community Engagement. 

The game featured local boys and girls against members of the UMD, Prince George’s County and Maryland National-Capital Park police departments. After taking a 15-point halftime lead, the officers prevailed 47-44. The children outscored the adults 36-24 in the second half. 

A 3-point shooting contest resulted in two youngsters each winning a scholarship to attend a  summer camp of their choice at the university. 

The event was part of the College Park Dream Team, a series of basketball games that began in 2013 as a partnership between the city’s Lakeland community, the university and the aforementioned police agencies. The program’s goal is to use sports to enhance relationships between local youth and law enforcement. UMD police chief David Mitchell attended the recent game. 

Following the shooting contest, Matthews greeted old friends and made some new ones. He signed autographs and posed for photos before getting one of the day’s last pizzas from Ledo Pizza in College Park. A few Terrapin men’s basketball players handed out slices to attendees. 

Matthews lived in Lakeland from 1995-2000. He attended Paint Branch Elementary School and used to work out every day at the College Park Community Center-Youth Sports Complex. He also played a lot of basketball at Cole Field House.

“If it wasn’t for those type of resources, I probably wouldn’t be Lethal Shooter, because I was getting up a lot of shots in those gyms,” Matthews said. “The resources we had at College Park Rec were amazing.”

Matthews said that living in Lakeland was a  great experience and that numerous people at the community center there helped shape him into the person and coach he is today. He honored several of his mentors with plaques at halftime. 

“They took the time to help me with my game and pull me to the side and tell me what I was doing right and wrong,” he said. “A big portion of my life belongs to College Park, and I’m always going to take that time to come back and help.” 

Matthews played high school ball with NBA All-Star Kevin Durant at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Md., before finishing at Lutheran Christian in Philadelphia. He played two years at Washington State under current Virginia Coach Tony Bennett before transferring to St. Bonaventure. A two-year starter for the Bonnies, he averaged a career-high 12.6 points as a senior in 2009-10 and led the team in 3-point shooting (101 of 258, .391). 

After a seven-year professional playing career that took him to the NBA G League and stints in Mexico, China, Russia and Canada, Matthews started training players. He has worked with, among others, Bobby Portis, Anthony Davis, Domantas Sabonis, Dwight Howard, Skyler Diggins-Smith and Candace Parker. He has also trained rapper/singer Drake and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Matthews, who lives in Southern California, remains an outstanding shooter. In January 2022, he sank 23 of 25 3-pointers from NBA range in 66 seconds. 

When training to break a record, Matthews said he takes up to 2,000 shots a day: “If you want to be a great shooter, you have to shoot every single day.”

Matthews noted that amateur players should work on mastering shorter shots before taking it out to 3-point range. 

“Once you master mid-range shots, form shooting, free throws, then step out to the 3-point line to get a better rhythm,” he said. “But the one thing you never want to do is take bad shots.” 

Regardless of one’s pursuit, on or off the court, Matthews’ advice is to “continue to stay focused. All of us are going to fail in life, but giving up is never an option. In today’s world, everybody wants instant gratification. But the process is what makes us who we are today. 

“Just stay locked in.” 

Chris McManes (mick-maynz) covers sports for the College Park Here & Now.