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LYNN — So far, so good for Jalen Echevarria in his college basketball career.
A St. Mary’s graduate and Lynn native, Echevarria has flourished as a starting guard on the Division III Endicott College men’s basketball team.
“It’s been amazing,” Echevarria said. “Being able to do what I do best, contribute and give the team a lift. It’s definitely been a blessing. I didn’t expect Coach (Kevin) Bettencourt to play me as much as I’ve been playing but the hard work paid off.”
He was named Commonwealth Coast Conference Rookie of the Week for the season’s opening week, after scoring 22 points in a 100-64 win over MIT. Echevarria followed with a 10-point performance in a loss to Springfield and poured in 12 points in a win over Lesley.
“I worked hard during the offseason,” Echevarria said. “When I got to campus I worked hard with my roommate every day. We’d go to the weight room every day and things like that. It’s definitely made me more confident.”
Echevarria’s following the footsteps of his older brother, Marcos, who won CCC Rookie of the Week during his freshman season at Nichols and set multiple Bison records.
“It’s a blessing,” Echevarria said. “I’m following my brother’s footsteps. He won Rookie of the Week when he was a freshman. I’d always tell myself that I wanted to win that too. It was great to win it during my first week.”
He keeps in touch with Marcos, now an assistant coach at Nichols, as he learns his way through college basketball.
“(Marcos) said it was going to be fast-paced and it is fast-paced,” Echevarria said. “He tells me to do what I do best — take the game slow, do what I do best and view the court. It helps me a lot. It doesn’t make me as nervous as I was before. His experiences mean a lot because he’s been through it for four years. It definitely helps me in the long run.”
At St. Mary’s, where he played for his uncle, coach Dave Brown, Echevarria won a Division 4 state championship as a freshman and helped lead the Spartans to four consecutive Division 4 North state tournament appearances. He cracked the 1,000-career points mark as a senior last winter. Echevarria also played one season of varsity football and carried the Spartans to the Division 7 state championship game at Gillette Stadium.
He admits part of the reason he chose to continue his career at Endicott was to stay close to family.
“It’s definitely great being close to home because my family makes it out to all the games,” Echevarria said. “Just having their support, seeing them root for me from the stands and things like that, it definitely gives me more confidence on the court.”
Echevarria says things are also going well academically.
“It’s definitely different from high school,” Echevarria, a sports management major, said. “The work is a lot harder. It’s important to get my work done during my time off the court. At times, it’s been a struggle but it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.”
The Gulls open the CCC portion of their schedule Wednesday (5:30) when they host University of New England.