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Maryborough to Moraga: Matthew Dellavedova’s success story

Matthew Dellavedova Picture: SD Dirk Flickr

When most kids that grow up in country Victoria think of going to University to forge their career path they think of most likely having to move to Melbourne and see it as a massive step.

For Maryborough born Australian college basketball star Matthew Dellavedova, forging his career involved moving to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra at age 16 and two years later moving to Moraga, California in the hope of becoming a professional basketball player.

That move, however monumental, has recently paid off with Dellavedova winning the West Coast Conference (WCC) Player Of The Year award and leading his school, St. Mary’s, to the WCC title.

Dellavedova was born and raised in Maryborough, Victoria, a town with a population of around 8000 people about a 90 minute drive from Melbourne. His father played basketball on Friday nights, and took Matthew along with him, exposing him to the sport at four years of age.

In his junior season (his third of a possible four) with St. Mary’s, known colloquially as ‘the Gaels’, Dellavedova averaged 15.4 points per game, led the WCC with 6.5 assists per game and played 37 of a possible 40 minutes. The Gaels finished the season with a 25-5 record, including winning 14 of 16 games within the West Coast Conference.

‘Delly’, as his teammates call him, was undoubtedly the Gaels’ on field leader as Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle explains, pointing to a leadership vote taken by the team.

 

“St. Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett takes a ‘leadership vote’ among his players three or four times a year. They fill out a sheet asking them to list three standouts in 12 categories, ranging from work ethic and mental toughness to most trusted teammate and best attitude.

Delly. Delly. Delly. Delly.

Junior guard Matthew Dellavedova led the voting in all 12 categories heading into this season. He has finished first or second overall every time since he arrived on campus in 2009, an uncommonly mature, mop-haired, scruffy bloke from Australia whose contributions stretch beyond reliable shooting and slick passing.”

 

His on field and leadership skills are one thing, but the 21-year-old Dellavedova also excelled academically as a Psychology major, earning first-team Academic All-America honours and an impressive grade point average of 3.61.

Now that the college season is finished, Dellavedova has a big decision to make. He could most likely name his price in the NBL and be one of the marquee players in the competition, or try his luck in the NBA where he might miss out on being drafted altogether.

Fellow St. Mary’s alumni and possible Australian Boomers teammate for the London Olympics, Patty Mills, has done both. Mills spent two seasons playing limited minutes with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers before coming back to the Melbourne Tigers at the beginning of the 2011/12 NBL season due to the lockout in the NBA.

Mills played just two seasons with the Gaels, averaging 18.4 points per game in his second and final season, along with 3.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game and leading them to the NCAA Tournament in his freshman season of 2008.

No matter what decision Dellavedova makes, whether he follows the path of Mills into the NBA or not, it is a remarkable journey for someone his longtime friend, and St. Mary’s teammate, Nick Page calls “a country boy”.

And maybe, just maybe, it will provide some year 12 students with a little perspective at year’s end.

 

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