Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Matt Mooney relying on God as he joins Atlanta Hawks' summer league squad

Matt Mooney’s path to this past season’s college basketball national championship game was not always a smooth one. He started his collegiate career at the Air Force Academy, then transferred to South Dakota, where he averaged better than 18.5 points per game both seasons he was eligible to play. Mooney transferred again for his final year of college basketball, this time to Texas Tech.

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Mooney started all 38 games for the Red Raiders in 2018-19, contributing 11.3 points per game. He scored a game-high 22 points in the Final Four against Michigan State and hit two 3-pointers in the title game against Virginia.

He was not among the 60 players selected in the NBA Draft last month, but Mooney was offered a spot on the Atlanta Hawks’ summer roster. The Hawks will get their NBA Summer League season started Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Mooney included Deuteronomy 31:8 in his tweet announcing the news. That verse says, “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Growing up in a Christian home, Mooney knew who Jesus was from an early age.

“I was always a believer but it never really became a relationship with the Lord,” he said recently on the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “It was just something that I did because I thought I was supposed to. It was more following the rules than anything.”

But at South Dakota, Mooney developed a much deeper faith and started having a relationship with Christ.

“It changed my life around,” he said. “The way I viewed the game of basketball, the way I viewed what I wanted to do with my life, my relationships — everything changed because I started to have a relationship with the Lord.”

On the podcast, Mooney also recounted a story during the Final Four in which the Bible verse Joshua 1:9 came to his attention numerous times. Like Deuteronomy 31:8, it also says, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

That’s the mindset Mooney is taking with him as he attempts to solidify a pro basketball career.

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