During recent action, Shawsheen Tech junior forward Matt Breen drove past Greater Lowell Tech’s Dylan Newbigin on his way to the basket. Breen, who is 6-foot-8, is enjoying a great season. (James Thomas Photo)
BILLERICA — The first few chapters of Matt Breen’s basketball story are quite unique. The rest are still being written. Expect a slam dunk ending.
The Shawsheen Technical College junior forward, who lives in Wilmington, only started playing basketball in the sixth grade. His uncle Bill Coffill taught him how to shoot in his backyard.
Breen played two years in AAU, but focused on lacrosse and hockey. The summer before his freshman year at Shawsheen University, as his height had grown to his 6 feet 4 inches, he decided it was “time to hang up the skates.”
He participated in basketball tryouts but was not selected for the national team. In fact, he didn’t even start on the JV team.
“I had a chip on my shoulder. At first I thought I deserved it (to be in the national team), but then it was a reality check,” he admitted. “When I got there, Coach (Bob) Hodnett, who is one of my favorite coaches, was very tough on me. I wasn’t a rookie right away, so I had to work on everything. He really helped me become the player I am today.”
The 6-foot-8 forward is currently averaging 17.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for the Rams, who are 10-6. He had a number of great games, including 28 points against KIPP and 26 points and eight blocks against Greater Lowell. All these baskets came from different places on the floor.
“If you’re a 6-foot-8 guy, you’re going to use him as one of the top two or top three three-point shooters in the league,” Shawsheen coach Joe Gore said. “It’s really special that he has the skill set to be able to stretch the floor so well. He’s come this far this year, with his back to the basket, facing the rim, hitting the rim. He’s gotten more comfortable attacking. Last year he didn’t put two feet in the paint, which is amazing for his height.”
After last season, when he averaged 11.7 points per game, Breen played AAU, but also spent six months at Athletic Evolution in Wilmington to develop strength, conditioning, agility and, most importantly, confidence. .
“I stayed on the perimeter a lot. It was just a mental thing. I didn’t think I was strong or fast enough to get past defenders and get into the paint,” he said. “(This year) I’m going to go in the middle and do a baby hook (shot) or drop step off a spin. I like to take fadeaway (shots) and I like to take a lot of threes.
“I’ve made a few dunks,” he added with a big grin.
Gore said Breen was voted captain and has become a great leader. With the state tournament approaching and continuing well into next year, the coach believes Breen will be visited by many college coaches.
“Matt is a shooter, he can drive, he has all the potential to play at the next level,” Gore said. “Without a doubt, he’s a Division II (college) player, and to be honest, it depends on the school, but I think he could probably redshirt a year and play at a smaller Division I school. Masu.
“His IQ and skill development and his size is just off the charts. It’s just (improving) his strength and agility. His potential is through the roof. 6-foot-8 It’s hard to get players who are 6’8”. Sometimes you hear, “Well, he’s 6’8” (he should be good), but Matt happens to be a very good 6’8” player. I’m a basketball player. He has a work ethic and has all the potential, but it’s the skill set that comes with his size that separates him from most players. ”
Breen knows from experience that just because you’re 6-foot-8 doesn’t automatically make you a starter when your college career begins.
“My goal is to play Division I basketball. My AAU coaches told me that was a possibility, but I had a lot of work ahead of me,” he said. “I’m just going to keep my head down and keep working and hope for the best.”