Portraits are my jam.
Reporters ask subjects to bring props to photoshoots. If the story involves basketball, "could you bring a basketball for the photo?" Hence the basketball Matthew holds. At the time it seemed like a good idea. But looking back, the image would have been stronger without the ball. The basket to his left more than conveyed the idea of basketball: the ball was unnecessary. Most of the time, fewer elements = stronger image. Try, fail/succeed, repeat.
Lighting note: this was the first time I've ever used a reflector on a news assignment (thank-you David Hobby). Matthew's mom is just outside the right side of the frame, holding the reflector above her head, bouncing back that low-hanging winter sun into the shadowy-side of Matthew's face.