Matt Jones is far from rude, but, on this one, his interjection is well-warranted.
He doesn’t have to think about the question. Not even a bit.
Jones knows exactly how to answer it immediately, so when he hears “Where would your career be without the 3-point line?” Jones interrupts very matter-of-factly with “Nowhere.”
“The reality is that I’ve got all of these schools recruiting me because of my ability to shoot the 3,” said Jones, a junior shooting guard at DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas) who is mulling over offers from Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Kansas and Arizona, among others. “So if there’s no 3-point line, there may be no Matt Jones. I’d probably be fighting for a low D-II scholarship. I owe the people that brought the 3-point line to the high school game. I owe them big.”
Jones’ sentiments are shared by thousands of other marksmen around the country who are grateful that in 1987, the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations adopted the 3-point line. College hoops introduced it the year before.
“The creation of the 3-point line was the most impactful change the high school game has ever seen,” said NFHS executive director Bob Gardner. “Obviously, high schools don’t have the financial resources that colleges do, so we needed that extra year to paint the lines and things like that. We also wanted to see what type of impact it made on the game, and it was bigger than anyone could’ve ever imagined.”
Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) swingman Andrew Wiggins agreed. He said that without a 3-point line, the game would have less excitement.
“I think that would change a lot of the endings of games,” said Wiggins, a sophomore who is the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 25. “You could be down 12 with one minute to go and hit a 3, and it just does something to your team. It hypes everyone up. Without 3s, so many players would be just average. I mean, where would Ray Allen be without 3s? Shooting guards would be real average.”
That’s precisely the reason the NFHS decided to implement the arc 24 years ago.
“The high school game was being dominated in the paint,” Gardner recalled. “So if you didn't have a tall guy down there, you were at a tremendous disadvantage. The 3-point line was the ultimate equalizer. It really expanded the game for smaller guards.”
Big guards, too.
As Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.) shooting guard Archie Goodwin, a 6-foot-5 athlete who is notoriously known for posterizing defenders, pointed out, the 3-point line makes the defense guard the perimeter, thus opening up the lane for breakdown guards.
“If there wasn’t a 3-point line they’d just drop back to the free throw line, so you couldn’t finish with high-percentage shots,” Goodwin said. “It would all be two points, so that would be the smart thing to do defensively. I’m so glad we have an arc because I don’t think basketball would have as many dunks and highlights. Having it helps everyone.”
That prevailing theme became more real to Jones as the conversation progressed. He paused suddenly, as though he was pending for thought, then revisited his gratitude.
“I’m telling you, man, I owe them a lot for bringing that 3-point line,” Jones said. “This line has changed my life. I owe them one or two thanks.”
Maybe even three.