Hartford junior guard Travis Weatherington connected on his first 3-point attempt Monday at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“It was a contested 3 with a couple of seconds left on the shot clock,” the burly, 6-foot-2, 215-pound Weatherington, from Palm Beach, Fla., said. “I think they scouted me pretty well. Whoever was closing out did it with high hands in my grill trying to pressure me but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I’m always going to be scouted as a shooter so I just have to be ready to catch and shoot now.”
The first 3 was the only 3 in five attempts Weatherington made in a 78-56 loss to the Retrievers, but the transfer from Palm Beach State (Fla.) College was coming off a monster game. UMBC likely planned for Weatherington after a school-record the performance the previous game in which he sunk 10 3-pointers in 11 attempts. He recorded a career-high 34 points in a 97-65 win over Binghamton at Chase Arena Saturday. The made 3s tied the school’s record of 10 held by Hartford’s current graduate manager, Wes Cole, who set the mark in 2014 against UMass-Lowell.
“Coach [John Gallagher] always preaches ‘be shot-ready, be shot-ready’ Weatherington said. “That’s the No.1 threat. They see me on the 3-point line pump-faking and shooting but I think the bigger threat is when they’re closing out and lunging at me. Put the ball on the floor and make another play, pass to a teammate so they can make a play or go to the rack.”
“I was feeling pretty good,” Weatherington continued. “I didn’t know I had that many until someone told me. They were like, ‘Bro you’re really close to the record’ and I was like ‘what is the record?’ and they were like ‘it’s 10 and you already have seven or eight’. I was just feeling it on the first couple shots and I think it was like on the third or fourth 3-pointer I knew when I touched I wasn’t going to do anything but shoot it.”
Adding diversity to his game makes Hartford and Weatherington very dangerous especially since he plays next to junior guard Jason Dunne. Dunne is the guy to watch on most opposing scouting reports because he’s 32nd in the country in 3-pointers made (55).
Weatherington should be getting more attention like he did against UMBC but with Dunne (who has made eight 3s in a game before) next to him, the drive-and-kick could work very well for either of them, as well as open up opportunities for the big men inside.
“When you talk about the future of our team you talk about the next two months and next year Travis is a big part of the puzzle in trying to get to our first NCAA Tournament,” Gallagher said. “He is just getting comfortable right now. I expect the next year and a half for him to really be an integral part of our team.”
Weatherington is averaging 9.6 points, and 3.2 rebounds. He entered the starting lineup against Boston College Dec. 2. Hartford, which plays at Maine Thursday, has gone 7-4 since. The Hawks are 10-9, 3-2 in the America East and off to their best start since 2014-15 with 11 regular-season games to play. Throw in the fact the team is also carrying a 3.46 grade-point average, one of the highest in program history, there’s a special feeling among the program in West Hartford and the addition of Weatherington is a reason why.
“Our former assistant Jaret von Rosenberg [now coach at Texas A&M University-Commerce] called me last September and he said we need to get this kid from Palm Beach State. I talked to [Palm Beach State coach] Marty McCann and knew he was exactly what he needed: another perimeter scorer, a guy who can make shots with people in front of him. He can finish at the rim and has an underrated pull-up game.”
Division II Barry University in Miami was the only school to offer Weatherington a scholarship out of Royal Palm Beach High, where hit 90 3s as a senior and left as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Weatherington began developing his silky-smooth shot when he was just 6 years old. Often times he would get in trouble at home for staying out so late.
He was at the courts working on his shot.
“I just loved seeing the ball go through the basket,” Weatherington said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Weatherington, who said he put up 500 shots and 100 free throws after practice the night before the game, missed his first 3-pointer against Binghamton with less than seven minutes to play - but came back and hit two more.
“He needs to know he’s one of the best shooters in college basketball and he proved it Saturday,” Gallagher said. “It’s not me trying to give him confidence it’s just reality and I like to talk in realities and I know people think I’m optimistic but any time you can put shooters on the floor like we can teams don’t know who we’re going to and it gives you such an advantage.”