It wasn’t too long ago when Matt Houston and the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association wrapped up their third straight championship (two of which Houston was part of). It was a long two years filled with pauses because of Covid, late nights and early mornings, and sacrifice.
The most significant sacrifice was being away from family for so long. Houston returned home this summer after two years of not seeing his family, but coming home was bittersweet. Unfortunately, all the FaceTimes, couldn’t do their reunion justice.
Coming home turned out to be just what Houston needed. After four years overseas, he has landed a new job with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League.
Resume in China
Houston has been in China since 2017 when he took the job with the Chinese National Team. While in China, he had five jobs in four years, two years with Shanxi Rui Flame and Sichuan Blue Whales women’s teams and two years with the Guangdong Southern Tigers men’s team.
The Southern Tigers had the 33-year-old work strictly with former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian before promoting him to head strength and conditioning coach for the 2020-2021 season.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but Houston mutually parted ways with the Southern Tigers after this past season.
“My last two seasons with the Guangdong Southern Tigers, they were lifetime memories. I wouldn’t change anything from starting as the assistant, training the younger guys, and watching them develop, and winning two championships,” Houston claimed about his last two seasons.
He will cherish memories made with the staff and players. That is something he says that will never be taken from him, the memories. Winning two championships in his first two seasons with the Southern Tigers was special, and he’ll always consider their coach, Du Feng, a lifelong friend and member of his family.
From China to the NBA G League
This summer, he returned home and continued training professional athletes. He trained former San Antonio Spurs and current Santa Cruz Warrior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, who he’s worked with before, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons.
While he was home, he received a phone call from his friend Travis Voigt, Head Basketball Operations and Director of Player Development for Sioux Falls. After the team promoted their trainer to the Miami Heat, Voigt asked him if he was interested in the head strength and conditioning job. Houston and Voigt previously coached together in China in 2017, and this was an opportunity that Houston couldn’t turn down.
When asked if there was a possibility of returning to China, Houston said, “I thought it was time to move on. I was mentally ready, and my ultimate dream is to coach in the NBA. I figured right now I had some momentum, and I wanted to take a chance on myself.”
Houston is now one step closer to his goal of the NBA. He isn’t in a rush either, and he’ll tell you it’s a process, and he takes things day by day. The new Head of Strength and Performance Coach is looking forward to the opportunity and is excited to get better each day.
The Sioux Fall Skyforce open their season against the G League Ignite on October 31st.
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