Matt Maloney never had the opportunity to coach NBA player Iman Shumpert at Oak Park-River Forest. Shumpert was promoted to the Huskies varsity midway through his freshman season.
Maloney was the sophomore coach at the time. Three years later, veteran OPRF coach Al Allen hung up his whistle after Shumpert, who graduated in 2008, played his final high school game, a 69-61 loss to Young in the Class 4A Proviso East Sectional final.
Maloney was named the varsity coach the following season. Regardless, Shumpert still regards Maloney as a close friend and adviser.
“We are extremely tight. I used to go to his [history] class to bother him and joke around with him,” Shumpert said. “You talk about somebody who never got the chance to coach me, but has always been there for me. He’s always there to help me work on my shot. He calls me during the season, emails me during the season to check up on me and make sure my head is right. He’s been just as much as a coach as Coach Al has been through the years.”
The 24-year-old Shumpert, a three-year veteran with the Knicks who averages 7.7 points, returned home last week to conduct his youth basketball camp at OPRF.
The 6-foot-5 guard is an ambassador for the Oak Park-River Forest community and has become a guardian angel for the boys basketball team. Maloney served as an instructor at Shumpert’s camp. Last season, through his endorsements for Adidas, Shumpert provided new warmups for the basketball team.
In the past, he has donated shoes, T-shirts, backpacks, bags and socks. Shumpert’s motivation is simple. He remembers what he didn’t have when he was with the Huskies, and wants to provide for current and future OPRF basketball players.
“I’m a big-time warmup guy,” Shumpert said. “I know we just don’t want a T-shirt to wear over our jersey. We want something nice with a zipper, maybe a snap breakaway. I try to keep it fun for them. I try to keep it exciting. I don’t have to have the credit. Maloney just does that. I do it more so for the kids. They deserve it. They work hard.”