Persistence pays off for Hammonds, signs with HPU
When the 2020-21 basketball season ended in February, the basketball future of senior Matthew Hammonds was in flux. Options to continue his career were virtually nonexistent.
“I was very worried. Not many players get their first offer two months after their senior season or their first interest in my case,” Hammonds said.
His persistence mixed with a stroke of fate swung in Hammonds’ favor, and he took advantage of the opportunity.
“I never thought this dream would come true,” he said. “It was definitely a long ride with lots of ups and downs, but all the hard work and determination paid off.”
Last week, Hammonds, the District 6-4A MVP, signed to play at Howard Payne University in Brownwood.
“Everything about HPU was amazing. After my visit, I knew this is where I wanted to be,” he said. “Everything from getting to continue my athletic career, to the classes and student life. It was a no-brainer after visiting and hearing about not only the basketball program, but the school itself.”
Hammonds said HPU didn’t come into the picture until April 1 after it had hired Nadir Dalleh as its new head basketball coach. Hammonds had crossed paths with him several times during select basketball, and that proved beneficial.
“He has seen me play and knows what I can bring to the table, and he took a chance on me,” Hammonds said. “I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Hammonds led the Tigers, who won their first district title in more than a decade, in scoring at 17 points per game while shooting 40.7% from the 3-point line and 87.7% from the foul line. He also drilled a team-best 82 3-pointers to go along with 35 steals and 34 assists.
“I am very thankful that I get to continue,” he said. “Basketball is my escape from everything. It’s my happy place and a way that I can express myself. I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”
Howard Payne University is NCAA Division III and participates in the American Southwest Conference.