After an explosive sophomore season, junior guard Matt Mooney has been named to the Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List.
This award, for mid-major Division I NCAA men’s basketball players, will be announced at the NCAA Division I national championships in April.
Mooney joins Summit League players Mike Daum of SDSU and John Konchar of Fort Wayne on the list.
He was also named to the Preaseason All-Summit 1st Team in early October.
“It feels good to get respect,” Mooney said. “But it’s just preseason, now I have to go out and perform.”
Mooney transferred to USD for the 2015-16 season and sat out due to NCAA transfer rules. Previously he played for Air Force and Notre Dame College Prep.
“Off the court he’s a good example of what you want a winner of an award of this stature to be,” said Josh Doss, a senior guard. “He’s a good guy.”
Mooney said he’s grateful that he redshirted during the 2015-16 season.
“I worked a lot with coach Hansen,” he said. “I needed that year.”
That year paid off. Last season, Mooney started all 34 games, averaged 18.6 points per game and was named to the five man Summit League All Newcomer Team. He was first team All Summit League honoree and named USD’s Rookie of the Year.
“There’s not much he can’t do,” said head coach Craig Smith. “He’s got a great feel for the game.”
During his single season for Air Force, Mooney played 29 games and started in eight of them. He averaged seven points per game and ranked second on this team in steals with 24. He earned team MVP his senior season with Notre Dame College Prep.
Doss said Mooney is a leader on a team of leaders.
“Sometimes having a bunch of different leaders on the same team can clash,” he said. “But Mooney kind of is our captain on a team of alphas.”
Mooney said he wants to play in the NBA, but right now he’s focusing on this season.
“I want to win the conference and play in the NCAA tournament,” he said.
This season, Mooney scored a season high 31 points versus TCU to help the Coyotes nearly top the undefeated Big 12 team. The Coyotes lost 76-71, but outscored TCU in the second half.
“He’s helping the team play excellent,” Smith said. “He doesn’t have bad nights.”
Doss has known Mooney since they were 17 when they played on the same AAU basketball team. Mooney has changed a lot since he and Doss played together in high school, he said.
“His confidence is through the roof. He’s fearless on the court; he doesn’t second guess himself,” Doss said. “He’s developed, I would say, a voice, he wasn’t that much of a vocal leader when we were younger.”
Mooney said his game mentality is simple.
“I want to be the best player on the court,” he said.