BY GRANT LEGISTER
Garrison Mathews is one of the latest Williamson County basketball players hoping to hear their name called in the upcoming 2019 NBA draft. The basketball standout graduated from Franklin High School in 2015.
He attended Lipscomb University the past four years and was instrumental in leading the Bisons to several postseason appearances and a conference championship that led to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago.
Mathews’ biggest strength is his ability to score the basketball. Last season, statistically the strongest of his career, he scored 750 points on 44 percent shooting and led Lipscomb to a second consecutive ASUN championship game and garnered ASUN Player of the Year honors.
Across his collegiate career, Mathews scored over 2,000 points on 44.6 percent overall shooting. Mathews can not only get into the paint to score, but he also has the ability to shoot from beyond the arc, scoring 317 threes (37.4 percent) across his career and breaking a team record in the process.
Mathews possesses another skill that NBA teams look for in small forwards: an ability to rebound (he was able to maintain a five rebound-per-game average across his career at Lipscomb).
His ability to create space and get inside the paint to provide opportunities for more points will be something taken into consideration for NBA teams.
The former Bisons player also proved his ability to be a strong passer. He was able to move the ball around and create opportunities for his teammates en route to collecting 70 assists last season.
Something that has to be taken into consideration is Mathews’ size. At 6’5” and 204 lbs., he is slightly undersized for a small forward, though smaller players at the position are can also be successful in the league. Teams that are looking for someone slightly bigger to fill the small forward role may pass on Mathews.
Strength of competition may be another factor that NBA teams look at evaluating Mathews.
While Mathews was able to hold his own in the conference, the ASUN, while all of the players are still college athletes, is not the strongest conference in D-I NCAA basketball. It does not have the caliber of players of some of the other conferences, like the SEC, ACC and Pac-12. Some teams may be concerned that the ASUN to NBA leap may be too much.
Mathews has worked out for the Wizards, Suns, 76ers and Hawks ahead of the draft on Thursday night.
If he is drafted, it will most likely be in the second round. If not, Mathews still has a chance to play in the NBA via undrafted free agency.
Photo from Lipscomb Athletics.