In a room full of Hall of Famers and world champions, Brandon Matthews still stood out.
The Pittston Area graduate with a bright future ahead of him on the links was among those honored at the 110th Philadelphia Sports Writers Association banquet Monday, an annual gathering to acknowledge the best in the region and the country.
“I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities,” Matthews said at the conclusion of the banquet. “To have these chances the last few years of my life, it’s special to be part of something like this.”
Among the honorees with the golfer from Dupont were Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, boxing champion Bernard Hopkins, former Flyers forward Bill Barber and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. The Boston Red Sox were named the Team of the Year by the PSWA and CEO Larry Lucchino was on hand.
Also honored was Bo Ryan, University of Wisconsin head coach, as the Native Son Award winner. Ryan, a Wilkes University Hall of Fame basketball player, was unable to attend due to illness. The former point guard from Chester had 807 points, 278 rebounds and 276 assists with the Colonels.
The invite to the PSWA event capped an incredible year for Matthews, a Temple sophomore, who is emerging as the best golfer to come from Northeastern Pennsylvania in at least three decades.
His chip-in at a U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier on a final hole in June to become an alternate at Merion was a national highlight for days. He went to the tournament and shared practice time with the likes of Tiger Woods and the best on tour.
He was the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team for his work with the Owls.
He won the W.C. Fownes Jr. Amateur Player of the Year award from the Pennsylvania Golf Association, and claimed the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s William Hyndman III Player of the Year award.
He expects more from his 2014 season.
“When you are accomplishing something, you want to look to do bigger things in the future,” Matthews said. “Until you are the best at what you do, you have to keep aiming higher. That’s what I’m going after.”
Matthews’ Temple team will continue its first season in the American Athletic Conference in June. And his work at Brookline last year earned him an automatic qualifier for this year’s U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club in Duluth, Ga.
Other honored guests at Monday night’s event included Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant and former GM Jim Murray, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and third baseman Cody Asche, boxing champion Danny Garcia, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, West Chester running back Rondell White, and the Eastern (N.J.) field hockey team, a national power regularly found on PIAA Class 2A state champion Wyoming Seminary’s schedule.
The Eastern field hockey team was the first high school team of any kind to be honored by the PSWA.
The 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup champion Flyers were represented by Bernie Parent, Tom Bladon, Dave Schultz, Reggie Leach, Terry Crisp, Orest Kindrachuk, Don Saleski and the Watson brothers, Joe and Jimmy.