Alumni Guest Article: St. Augustine Prep Alum and Basketball Star Looks to Seize Opportunity
by Nicholas Leo ’20:
Hermits basketball fans remember Matt Delaney’s career thoroughly, as he spent all four years with major contributions to the varsity team before graduating in 2021. These days, he’s seizing his opportunity at American University in Washington D.C. Graduating a year ahead of him, I was able to play basketball alongside Matt Delaney for three seasons at St. Augustine Prep. We had fought for the same spot while becoming close off the court, making hour-long trips to each other’s towns on weekends. Eventually, we had both graduated, Delaney to a career in basketball at American University and me to Flagler College where I’m majoring in journalism. We still hang out in the summer when we’re both in New Jersey, and as I’m an aspiring sports journalist, I have been hoping to write about Matt for a long time. I recently sat down with my former teammate and Hermit Brother, discussing among many topics: life as a Division- I student-athlete, adjusting to new surroundings, and continuing where he left off on the basketball court.
In 2021 Delaney averaged 19.1 points and 10 rebounds as a senior at St. Augustine Prep, but once at American University, ultimately struggled to find court time. In their third game of the season against Georgetown, Delaney was given his first chance at seeing action and struggled offensively going 0-3 in just 5 minutes on the court.
“The seniors, the older kids, they helped me out. The offense is complex since it’s very fluid, but we have, in our team, a very supportive group,” Delaney said.
More minutes didn’t come quickly, Delaney was given his first real shot after a month of good practices in January and an injury to another big man on the team. In a recent league game against Lafayette, Delaney played 14 minutes and shot 6-6 from the field, finishing with 13 points including a memorable and-one. “January comes around, I start to find a comfort zone in practice and I find myself on the blue team [scout team]. I felt as confident as ever on the court and next thing you know I’m a sub on the second team. One of our big men is unable to go and I get blessed with a chance to really show what I could do on the court.” Delaney said.
The Prep alum followed his performance vs. Lafayette with a 9-point outing against Colgate, shooting perfect from the field for the second game in a row. Delaney had some reinforcements in the stands as his mother was able to attend her first two games of the year, just so happens, the former Hermits standout has his two best performances of his freshman season. Living with his brother Andrew prior to arriving at American U., Matt was not akin to being away from home. Having his family present, even for just two games helped him feel like an extended version of his home was in the stands.
“It’s been weird, but I got my roommate with me, that aside though I definitely miss my family,” Delaney said.
The most difficult part of transitioning was the college classes, but not in an academic sense. Delaney’s first-semester schedule had his classes set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with practice set immediately after his last class through 7:30 in the evening. With that in mind, he left himself very little free time to make up assignments after games. Addressing his experience managing his schedule, Matt shared, “Working closely with my coaches and my advisors, setting my schedule this semester has been much easier.”
As is life as a Division I student-athlete, Delaney was also adjusting to life on the court. He had to fine-tune his mechanics in the post and manage the process of learning the playbook – all in all, this led to seeing minutes becoming a process. “The adjustment was hard, I had to shoot my post shots differently as I’m going up against much bigger and talented opponents. Along with that, I was learning my way through the playbook at the beginning of the season.” Delaney said.
As they approach the final leg of this season, Delaney hopes the work he has put in off-the-court will help him continue to flourish on the big stage. As a group, American Basketball is a young squad that is going through some growing pains, but to Delaney, there is a lot of improvement on the horizon. With eight games left before the Patriot League Tournament, and American currently sitting at the nine seed, Delaney warns fans not to count his team out as contenders. “No one’s really blown us out and with the work we have put in throughout the year, I think we have a great shot to compete in every game moving forward.”