Anthony Mathis returns this season for his senior year knowing his role on the team might be different now. His thoughts? He’s honored.
During a preseason press conference, men’s basketball head coach Paul Weir talked about what he expects regarding leadership for the New Mexico team. Mathis, along with teammate Dane Kuiper, received a lot of praise from the coach.
“Anthony and Dane are the best of the best,” Weir said. “They’re five-star kids… they’ve been terrific taking leadership.”
The 6’3” guard broke the school’s record for most three-pointers in a conference season (66) during the 2017-18 period. This was his most successful and active year since he became a Lobo.
As a freshman, Mathis only averaged 6.6 minutes of play and 2.3 points. The stats were just as low as a sophomore when his time on the court average at 6.4 minutes per game and 2.9 points. In those two years, he played a total of 35 games but did not start a single one of them.
Last season, Mathis played 34 games, 11 of those as a starter. When it came to scoring, four Lobos averaged double figures. Mathis was the second highest scorer averaging 22.4 minutes and 12.7 points.
Last season’s team broke the record for most 3ptrs in one season with 367. Here is Anthony Mathis hitting one during today’s practice. pic.twitter.com/1iPzxH1iwS
— The Lair New Mexico (@thelairnm) June 13, 2018
This summer, Mathis stepped up to ensure his improvement continues. His goal is not just to continue improving his shooting, but also to become an overall better player.
“Just staying in the gym doing a lot of ball handing drills, working on my court vision,” he said. ”It’s a work in progress but I feel a lot more confident handling the ball than I have the last couple years. I feel like I enjoy and want the ball in my hands a lot more now whereas I was just a spot-up shooter. It’s a fun thing to do, just expanding my game.”
His approach to everything can be described with one word: “enthusiastic.” He understands he is fortunate to be playing college basketball, so his priority when he steps on the court, he said, is having fun and cheering for his team.
Mathis said he knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help he received along the way. Former teammates he looked up to included Elijah Brown and Tim Williams. Mathis said this wasn’t just because of their performance on the court, but also because of the type of people they were outside of basketball.
Now it’s time to pay it forward.
Freshmen Jordan Arroyo and Tavian Percy are Mathis’ roommates. The senior is there for them as much as he can, whether it’s with basketball advice or just playing video games.
Yessirrr👏🏽 welcome to the gang lil bro 🤘🏽🐺
— Anthony Mathis (@mathis290) April 14, 2018
“I feel like it’s an honor,” Mathis said. “Being a leader on this team is just super amazing. It means everybody looks up to you. I try to do my best to lead by example. When I came, I had some leaders who took me under their wing and it meant a lot to me. Just being able to do that back to these freshmen is big for me.”
Helping younger players is not just a way to be a nice person, it also helps the overall team. Mathis is big on teamwork, caring more about the greater good than his own personal achievements. He is looking at the big picture, and hopefully the big dance.
“I don’t care if I’m shooting the ball at 10 percent, 15 percent. As long as we are winning games, I’m cool with that,” he explained. “It was cool being a high-percentage shooter last year and all, but I just like winning, I want to get to the tournament.”