LYNNFIELD — He’s on to St. Anselm.
Lynnfield native and St. John’s graduate Matt Relihan made his commitment to continue his basketball career at Division II St. Anselm in Manchester, New Hampshire. Relihan announced his decision this past weekend.
“I was very excited,” Relihan, a guard/forward said. “When I went up and first looked at the school last Tuesday, it felt like the right place and the right fit. Then (St. Anselm) coach (Keith) Dickson called me on Friday and offered. I ended up committing later that night. It was a mix of excitement and relief.”
Relihan also garnered interest from American International College, Goldey-Beacom College in Delaware and University of Sciences in Pennsylvania.
“The first thing about St. Anselm is the environment of the school,” Relihan said. “With academics, student-life and basketball, it seems like a comfortable environment. It’s an environment where you want to succeed along with the other student-athletes. It’s a school that has a ‘home away from home’ feel to it.”
He said making the decision official took a weight off his shoulders.
“It was a big relief,” Relihan said. “I’m very glad I waited as long as I did because I feel that I found a great fit going to a school with such a winning culture. That’s what I was looking for, for the most part.”
St. Anselm is coming off its best season in program history in 2018-2019. The Hawks finished at 26-6, 18-3 against Northeast-10 Conference opponents. St. Anselm qualified for the Division II NCAA Tournament. The team’s tournament run ended with a loss to Northwest Missouri State in the “Final Four.”
Relihan knows playing time won’t be handed to him. He’ll have to work on his game during the offseason in hopes of giving his coaches a positive first impression.
“It’s a program where everyone has to work,” Relihan said. “Nothing’s really guaranteed to anyone, whether you’re a starter coming back or a freshman coming in. I think I’m ready for the obstacles that are coming my way, earning playing time because I feel that’s what I’ve done my whole career.
“At the Division II level, everyone’s really quick and fast,” Relihan said. “That converts to the mental part of the game where you have to make decisions faster.”
During the offseason, Relihan plays pick-up basketball with fellow St. John’s alum and Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton. Relihan first met Connaughton during his sophomore at the Prep and the two have stayed in touch since.
“Just being able to hang around him let alone play basketball with him was incredible,” Relihan said. “I’ve learned so much from him on what it takes to make it in the NBA. The fact that he even plays pick-up with local high school kids and college players is amazing. He’s so committed to helping local kids improve their games. We play one or two times a week at the Prep with lots of North Shore guys he played with and against in high school.”
Relihan spent the past year at post-graduate St. Andrew’s in Barrigton, Rhode Island. He helped the Saints to the NEPSAC Class AA Boys Basketball championship in March.
“I think it was a great year. I’m very glad and grateful that I did it,” Relihan said. “The level of competition you see in the NEPSAC League, just about every game you’re playing a high-level Division I kid. Everyone’s a college player here. The college level is the next step but this helps get you ready for the toughness and quickness of the college level.
“(St. Andrew’s coach) Mike Hart did a lot for me with the recruiting process and getting me ready for the next level,” Relihan said.
At St. John’s, Relihan played three years of varsity basketball. He averaged 12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game during his senior season. Former Eagles teammates Nate Hobbs (University of New Hampshire) and Tommy O’Neil (Harvard) are playing basketball at Division I colleges. Hobbs is also on the outdoor track and field team at UNH and recently broke the school record in the long jump (24 feet, 9.25 inches).
“I’m very grateful to have been able to play with them,” Relihan said. “They were great teammates and we still stay in touch. We had a great connection as teammates. Even though we didn’t put it together at St. John’s, we still had a great time. We pushed each other and that’s one of the reasons that we’re all able to excel and reach a high level.”