by Sara Welch | Correspondent
Social media created a world where interaction is ongoing and instantaneous.
Updating a Facebook status or tweeting something to your followers is a part of a daily routine for a lot of people. Everyday, they connect to a variety of networks on their phones, tablets and computers where their opinions are posted, their comments are left and their votes are submitted.
Social media effectively changed the way we live and its force has finally impacted high school athletics as well.
The amount of social media traffic revolving around Streetsboro's standout shooting guard, Jordan Matusik, provides enough proof that his mounting accomplishments in his senior season are not only buzzworthy enough for his local supporters, but substantial enough to attract wide-spread attention.
"Jordan works hard in the offseason," Streetsboro head boys basketball coach Nick Marcini said. "Every year, he's played pretty much year-round basketball. This year, he had a pretty bad ankle break, but he got it treated and came back ready to play after our dead period ended in August. We started up in September and we went hard. He put in a lot of work in during those couple of months leading up to the season. I thought he was ready to have a breakout year."
While he was always recognized as a shooting threat to opposing teams, he still managed to knock down unopposed three-pointers throughout the beginning of the season. Going unnoticed until midway through the season when opposing teams started tailoring their defenses to account for his outside shot; Matusik continued to work hard and prepared for each game with his focus simply on playing his best.
"Certain nights I can definitely tell I'm going to play well based on how my shot is going in warm-ups," Matusik said. "That helps me tell how my night is going to be.
"Sometimes, I feel like I don't have as much energy as I have in other games, but then I just remember that I'm blessed to have an opportunity to play basketball and that gets me excited to play. I really don't think I'm ever going to have a bad night when I go out there. I always have confidence in myself.
"When I go out there, I don't think about what other people think of me. I just worry about winning the basketball game and not focusing on myself at all."
A rivalry game on Crestwood's hardwood proved to be the singular performance that fueled all of the hype surrounding Matusik for the duration of the season.
He scored the first three points of the night for Streetsboro with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first quarter. He scored three more threes that quarter, three in the following quarter and tie his school record for most threes in a single game when he scored his eighth of the night in the fourth quarter. Two games prior, he missed the mark by one three-pointer, walking away with seven for the night.
He managed to tie a school record that night and later broke the standing record of 58 threes in a season with 63.
"I was most proud of breaking the single-season three-point record for our school," Matusik said. "I know a lot of people expected me to do it. It feels good to actually do it."
The top seven three-point shooters in the country had already been selected to participate in the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championship, leaving one remaining spot to be raffled off among the next 16 shooters in line based on statistics from maxpreps.com. Propelled by his success at the end of an unforgettable senior performance, Matusik battled his way down to the final four shooters left in the Facebook vote-in competition.
"I was really happy and proud of myself for even having a chance to go to Atlanta for the competition," he said. "It's a personal accomplishment. They only took 16 people and I was really proud to be one of them and receive some recognition for my hard work."
Being selected for the competition has been an honor Matusik never intended to receive; however, worrying about his standing has consumed much of his time.
"I check the status probably every 10 minutes," he said. "It's kind of scary when you're down. You don't know if you're going to be able to come back from being behind. I was down before I made it to the final four, 49 percent to 51 percent, with 20 minutes to go and somehow I pulled it out and won. It was kind of scary."
His teammates agree that obsessing over the competition has interfered with his day-to-day routine. From his Spanish teacher requesting that the entire population of Streetsboro High school submit their vote to Matusik's cause to Kyrie Irving giving him a shout-out on Twitter, his life has been impacted on both small and large scales.
"It's consumed his life, basically," teammate Brandon Gency said. "We were in class the other day and we had a project to do and he was just too busy looking up the percentages to see whether or not he was winning."
After recognizing the obvious and admitting that his teammate has been affected by the attention he's received, Gency said Matusik remains the unselfish, thoughtful person he's always been both on the court and off.
"The attention has gone to his head a little bit," Gency said. "No, I'm just kidding. Jordan has been humble and he knows this is a blessing not something that should be given to him.
"During games, he doesn't take stupid shots and he's not afraid to pass the ball or pass up a wide-open shot to get other people going in the game. He knows it's a team sport."
Despite his individual success, Matusik always put his team ahead of himself. He understands that regardless of how many individual honors he receives, at the end of it all, he'll remember winning and losing with his team.
"I love Jordan as a teammate," teammate Dorian Williams said. "He's always played very unselfishly. He has very high basketball IQ. He knows what to do and when to do it. I think other people look up to him. Although he's doing very well individually with the three-pointers, he still knows how to play basketball as a teammate. I think that shows that his first priority is the team."
Matusik recalls his most disappointing moment of the season being a night he felt responsible for a losing outcome.
"When we played Kent at home, we started out with a 15-point lead in the first quarter and we gave it up and let them get back in the game," Matusik said. "We had a chance to tie the game down by three with a couple of seconds left. I missed the game-tying three, actually. So I feel like I was really responsible for that game."
When remembering the best game of the season, he didn't look back on the night he hit eight threes or even the night he broke the record for the most threes in a season. Matusik immediately referenced the night Norton came to Streetsboro's gym. With two losses in the conference and Norton undefeated, the Rockets had practically been counted out. That night they managed a 51-49 victory over the Panthers and set themselves up for a championship game in their second meeting with Norton later in the season.
It wasn't his most outstanding night individually. However, it was in his opinion the most outstanding team night and therefore, the night he will remember the most fondly.
The additional individual achievements he has obtained to this point include: First Team Portage Trail Conference, he was named to the all-tournament team at the Hudson Holiday Classic tournament, he was chosen for the Greater Akron Basketball Coaches Association All-Star game, he was named to the Associated Press Northeast Inland All-District third team and he is the first alternate for the Summit/Stark All-Star game. Matusik averaged 14.8 points per game during the season.
"I knew I was going to have to play a big role this year being a senior captain and a leader for the team," Matusik said. "I knew I was going to have to step up and play a lot better than I did last year. I always expect more out of myself and I'm never satisfied. I always feel like I can do better, but I think I met my expectations this season."
While he's gained the interest of a few Division III colleges and he hopes to continue his basketball career at the college level, he's in no rush to make a decision until the right opportunity comes along.
"I definitely want to play basketball, but if I don't get the right offer or if it's not a school that I'm really interested in, I won't force myself to go just to play basketball," Matusik said. "It's about academics first so I can prepare myself for life. I think that's the most important thing."