Matt Thomas: One More Shot

Written by Max Dible, photo by Kyle Keigan

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Matt Thomas started as a shooter. This season, he is hoping to upgrade his classification to that of a sniper.

Yet, it is not the hoop that the sophomore marksman has locked in his sights, but his shot itself.

"I think coach [Hoiberg] just wants me, when I am in the game, to come in and be real aggressive offensively, really hunt my shot," Thomas said. "I am going to come in and score points. That is my role for this team."

Thomas' mindset needed to find balance before his stroke ever could. The 6-foot-4-inch guard sank 44 balls from behind the arc during his freshman season, the second most for any first-year player in Iowa State history, but it took him over 130 attempts to reach that mark.

The stats computed into a 33.6 percent success rate from downtown, roughly 2 percentage points below the ISU team average from 3-point range last season.

Thomas said that at times his struggles affected his mental stability on the floor.

"I learned a lot," Thomas said. "You learn how to react when say, you start off 0-3. Last year, maybe I was afraid to take that fourth one if I did start 0-3, where this year I think I am a lot more confident and comfortable on the court."

Thomas' maturity level was aided by the Cyclones’ climb to national prominence after the team won the Big 12 Tournament and advanced to the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen before losing to eventual national champion UConn Huskies.

More recently, Thomas received a wake-up call after being charged with driving under the influence. The incident cost Thomas appearances in an ISU exhibition game against Viterbo and Iowa State's first two official games of the season versus Oakland and Georgia State.

Despite what it cost him, Thomas said the jolting experience spawned within him a new attitude, which came fully equipped with an intensified focus.

"It was a big setback in my life, and I think I have definitely turned it into a positive," Thomas said. "I have realized what is important to me right now in my life, and that is family, friends, school and basketball. I have really kind of limited what I do off of the court to that, and I think that is helping my game on the court."

Thomas will be asked to defend and ball-handle, but his primary on-the-court responsibility will be his jump-shots, particularly from beyond the arc, which he said is coming along quite nicely at this point in the preseason.

"My shot honestly right now feels the best that it has probably ever felt," Thomas said.


Written by Max Dible, photo by Kyle Keigan