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The McConnell family name casts a lofty shadow in Pittsburgh basketball circles.

Suzie McConnell-Serio coaches the Pitt women’s basketball team. One of the biggest names in women's basketball history, she's a former star at player Seton-LaSalle High School, an All-American at Penn State, an Olympic gold medalist and a former WNBA Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year.

Suzie's sister Kathy coached Division I programs at Tulsa and Colorado before joining Suzie at Pitt in 2013 as an assistant.

Their brother Tim has been head coach of the Chartiers Valley High School men’s basketball team for 23 years, accruing more than 500 wins in that time frame. Another brother, Tom, has coached college and high school basketball for approximately 30 years.

Extending farther down the tree, Tim’s son T.J. has done justice to the family name and then some.

Starring at Chartiers Valley for his father, T.J. put together an electrifying career that showcased his ability as a shooter and passer. T.J. rode his momentum to Duquesne, where he earned Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Year honors before transferring to Arizona. McConnell became a first-team All-Pac-12 player and is currently a rookie with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.

Now there’s yet another McConnell looking to add the family legacy.

T.J.’s younger brother Matty, a freshman at Robert Morris, is embarking on an awfully familiar path.

Brothers: So Close Yet So Far
Matty appears to be quite similar to his brother as a player when looking at some baseline statistics. 

Both led the WPIAL in scoring as seniors while directing the Colts to WPIAL titles.

But Matty and T.J. are very different players.

“When I look back on it after my sons have graduated, T.J. was more of a pure shooter than Matty,” Tim McConnell said. “T.J. had more of a feel for the ball.”

Matty, according to his father, is a more physical player who excels at getting to the basket.

Ironically, Matty built a reputation as a shooter, but began to embrace being a penetrator his junior and senior seasons.

Despite being surrounded by a mini-basketball hall of fame during family gatherings, Matty feels more pressure following in his brother’s footsteps than theirs, according to his father.
Chartiers Valley Matty McConnell
However, that pressure never gets in the way of their kinship.

“We can talk about anything,” Matty said. “We text and call each other every day. Off the court, it’s a bond that can’t be broken.”

While Matty did not draw recruiting attention from the likes of Arizona, he had multiple college options to choose from going into his senior year of high school.

“Arizona is a great school, but you have to be really, really good to go,” Matty said.

A broken right foot in July 2014 that required surgery changed Matty’s recruiting path, however. The injury kept him off the court for more than three months, but the damage extended beyond the cracked bone. The injury caused many recruiters to back off, limiting his options.

One school, however, remained very interested:  Robert Morris University.

Starting Anew
McConnell was interested in Robert Morris for a variety of reasons.

“As a hometown kid, I love being close to home,” he said.

Perhaps more importantly, McConnell praised head coach Andy Toole and his staff, calling them one of the best in college basketball.

“They are always on top of things,” he said. “They know what to do; they do the right things to win. They’re just so passionate about the game.”

The younger McConnell trusted Toole and company a great deal, as them staying committed, despite the broken foot, meant a lot to him, according to Tim.

Matty made a verbal commitment to the university in September 2014, and signed his letter of intent two months later in November. Now, nearly a year later, McConnell is making his collegiate debut.

McConnell is expected to split time at point guard and shooting guard, and Toole and assistant coach Joe Gallo expect him to play a big role on the team right out of the gate.

“We think he can be a very good player for us,” Toole said.

“He’ll get significant playing time early,” Gallo said. “He’s going to have to be a major contributor.”

Toole has been impressed with McConnell’s poise and openness to learning, which clearly reflects his basketball background.

“It gives him an experience base and a competition level that is not typical of freshmen,” Toole said.

McConnell stressed that he’s committed to team success first and foremost.
Robert Morris Matty McConnell
“I’m not going to score 15 or 20 points [a game], but I’m going to try to score as many points as I can so I can help put our team in the best position to win,” he said. 

It’s a team he has blended well with, as he explained that he has developed a good relationship with his fellow freshmen, as well as some veterans. Sophomore forward Elijah Minnie, a fellow WPIAL alum from Lincoln Park, is one such veteran, as is senior guard Rodney Pryor, who led the Colonials in scoring last season.

“Rodney, being one of the better players on our team, he’s always there for me when I need to talk, or if I need help with anything,” McConnell said.

As he continues to adapt to the college game and further build chemistry with his teammates, McConnell sees big things ahead for the Colonials.

“I believe we can easily win the NEC and make the NCAA tournament,” he said without hesitation. “I believe we’re that good.”

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