Matt Williamson | "Winning the trophy in my 3rd year with the club was a surreal experience"
Matt Williamson, a 6’2 shooting guard who last played for Cheshire Phoenix. Born in Britain to English and Scottish parents, he moved to Germany at the age of one with his family. The 2-time BBL trophy winner picked up the game of basketball at age 13. Going onto play at the highest level in the German youth game in just a couple of years after learning the game, the under 16 to 19 Bundesliga which allowed him to train with other future professionals and German national league players.
At 18, Matt decided to leave Germany to enjoy life as a university student in his home country at the University of Worcester. Trialing for the university team and only making the 3rd team, frustrating Matt as he thought he played at a higher level than that of the coach's initial decision. Deciding to turn that frustration into motivation he managed to work his way to the first team in the space of 2 months, while also going on to play for the BBL franchise, Worcester Wolves. Paul James, the coach at the time, handed the youngster his professional debut for the Wolves against the Plymouth Raiders in February of 2018.
Unfortunately, In the summer of 2021, the Worcester Wolves franchise pulled out of the BBL and dropped to the third tier of British Basketball. Therefore, leaving Williamson without a club. Cheshire Phoenix gave the prospect an opportunity and went onto win the BBL Trophy with the club later that season.
Matt is a versatile player who can defend the entirety of the court while being a pest to the ball handler and able to guard 1-3, someone with an incredible work ethic, his biggest asset being his shot from behind the 3-point line. The well-rounded guard who is unfortunately a free agent currently comes with 5 years of BBL experience and two trophies which makes him an immediate asset to any team.
You grew up in Germany and had quite an interesting youth career playing basketball over there, could you tell the story for people who may not know?
I am half English, half Scottish but moved to Germany when I was 1 year old because of my dad’s job. My parents were both very good runners and ran internationally for Great Britain, so I was involved in a lot of sports growing up and was a very good goalkeeper but got into basketball when I was 13 years old. I joined the local team, the Herzogenaurach Longhorns. Over the next 2 seasons I improved drastically and when I was 15, I joined Rent 4 Office Nuremberg and played JBBL for them. The u16 Bundesliga which is the highest level of competition for that age in Germany.
From then on, I was training every day and playing either 2 or 3 games every week. Here I met some great teammates who have gone on to play in the Bundesliga and also had some great coaches who instilled a very hard work ethic in me which is still with me today. When I was in grade 12, (17 and 18 years old) I then played for the Herzogenaurach Longhorns in the Regionalliga as well playing for the Nuremberg Falcons NBBL team (u19 Bundesliga, highest level of competition for that age in Germany). Again, here I have some great memories, playing with teammates who were competing for the German national team, so I had great competition to improve with.
You played four years for Worcester Wolves, how was your time with the club?
In 2017 I then went to university in Worcester in the UK. I trialed for the University team and got put on the 3rd team. I was frustrated because I felt like I should not have been on that team. In the space of 2 months, I had worked my way up to the university's first team as well as becoming a training player for the BBL franchise Worcester Wolves. I made my BBL debut for the Wolves in February 2018 against the Plymouth Raiders. The experience was crazy and like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I was extremely grateful that PJ (then Wolves coach, now Plymouth City Patriots coach) saw something in me and got me involved with the Wolves. The team was a lot of fun to be a part of because the players were such great people and wanted to see me improve every single day.
The team was a lot of fun to be a part of because the players were such great people and wanted to see me improve every single day.
My second year with Wolves was rough for the team, however, one for me which I will not forget, and a big improvement made for me. Again, my teammates were great people and wanted to help for me to succeed. I gained a lot of game time experience this season and enjoyed every second, seeing myself improve week by week. Head Coach Ty Shaw was a big part of my success this season as he constantly pushed and challenged me to be a better version of myself.
In my 3rd year at Worcester, we again had a new coach in Matt Newby. He was a great coach but even better person and someone I really trusted to help me improve. The 2019-2020 season was one of my most fun because of my teammates as well as winning the BBL Trophy before lockdown happened. Winning the trophy in my 3rd year with the club was a surreal experience. The whole experience went so quickly because of how much fun I was having with my teammates and coaches.
I came back to Worcester for a fourth year and felt very privileged that I was able to compete throughout the “Covid season” as so many people I knew were not allowed to even leave the house. I got better throughout the season and learnt a lot but the thing I was most grateful for was just being able to play the game I loved throughout a pandemic where there was so much going on. Head coach Matt Newby was someone I had already built a relationship with over my 3rd year at Worcester, and I was very grateful for that because in my fourth year he was challenging me to be the best version of myself and for me to constantly improve week upon week. He was a coach I trusted very highly because he was someone who I could go to and ask questions about my personal development and felt like I was really able to express myself on this team.
You joined Cheshire Phoenix last year and managed to grab a BBL trophy in your debut season with the team, how was that experience last year?
In the summer of 2021, the Worcester Wolves franchise pulled out of the BBL. Thereafter, I was soon contacted about joining the Cheshire Phoenix and jumped at the opportunity. I was extremely excited to see another part of England and join another very well respected BBL club. We went on to win the BBL Trophy which again was another incredible experience. In my short career I had already won 2 major BBL trophies which felt amazing. I think I would describe this experience as being more in the moment and real than winning the Cup in 2020.
I had experienced winning a trophy before, so everything seemed to slow down, and I was really able to just soak in the feeling of being in another BBL final and winning. Hearing my name called out and seeing my photo on the big screen, celebrating with the team and lifting the Trophy is something I will never forget. I had my best game of the season in the Trophy competition where I scored 16 points as well. I was surrounded with great teammates who we were able to just have fun with but on the court got the job done; the relationships built are something I will cherish that we were able to win a BBL Trophy together.
How has the start of the season been in your words?
I’m currently unsigned and looking for my next opportunity. I’m an extremely hard worker and very coachable. I have 5 years BBL experience, I just need an opportunity/chance to prove myself!