A basketball scholarship to the United States has always been the path Matt Brien wanted to take.
The former St Kevin’s College pupil is following his dream after accepting a basketball scholarship for the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he will play for the Lopers.
Lopers coach Kevin Lofton announced 1.93m Brien as the team’s fourth recruit. He is believed to be the university’s first “Kiwi” student-athlete.
“It was definitely the path I wanted to take ever since I started high school,” he said.
“After talking with coach Lofton and discussing how my game fits with the style of play the Lopers run with and the likelihood of getting serious minutes in my first year is one of the bigger attractions.”
He has not decided what he will study, but expected it to be sport-related.
“I’m looking to get a degree that I will be able to pursue after my basketball career, [but] the goal for the meantime is to keep training and working hard over the next four years at college to hopefully play professionally somewhere around the world.”
Brien was part of the St Kevin’s College teams that won the national A titles in 2013 and 2016, and was named the tournament’s most valuable player at the latter.
In 2017, he moved to Wellington to finish his last year of secondary schooling at St Patrick’s College.
The opportunity to join the Wellington school came through a link with former Tall Black Brendon Polyblank who coached St Kevin’s in 2013. He now coaches St Patrick’s and is assistant coach for the Wellington Saints.
Brien, who made his debut for the Saints last year, said the professional environment, and training with the country’s best players, was an “awesome experience”.
Brien has spent the past season playing for OnPoint Academy in Oklahoma.
At OnPoint, he played other American prep schools, junior colleges and junior varsity teams from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics ranks and attracted the attention of the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Brien has ambitious goals, but Oamaru will always be home.
“I was introduced to basketball at primary school by Darryl Bell and Brian de Geest who gave me a love for the game,” he said.
“I’s always good to come back and see family and friends [and] help out the St Kevin’s [basketball] boys.”