Next fall, an Eastern High School Viking will be trading in his horns for some spots.
Senior basketball standout Matt Klinewski verbally committed to the Leopards of Lafayette College back in May and officially signed his letter of intent in November. It only took one visit for Klinewski to fall in love with Lafayette.
“The campus was amazing, I loved it there,” Klinewski said. “It’s two hours away from home, so that’s perfect. The basketball program’s top-notch. Coach O’Hanlon is a class act, he’s great. He’s been there for 19 years and I’ve heard great things about him. I played with the team when I was up to visit and they were all great, passing the ball and talking to me, all good things.”
Klinewski, a forward measuring 6 feet 8 inches, did not have any contact with Lafayette until April 29. A little more than two weeks later, he committed to attend the college on a basketball scholarship. Eastern head basketball coach Joe Murphy said there’s no doubt that Klinewski can play at the next level.
“Matt is non-stop worker who pounds the backboard on both ends of the floor and has a knack for getting to the foul line. He plays extremely hard and runs the floor very well for a post player,” Murphy said. “He can step out and make a three-pointer, which makes him a tough matchup for other post players. He’s a very smart and intelligent basketball player that usually makes the right decision on the court and puts himself in the right position to get rebounds.”
As a junior averaging 18.4 points per game, Klinewski earned MVP honors at the 2013 Olympic-Cape Challenge and was named Top Junior by NJ Hoops at the Eustace Showcase after scoring 16 points. A standout performer at the Hoop Group’s 2012 Fall Top 100 Tour in Philadelphia, he was also selected as the MVP at the Youth Interlock Society Midnight Madness All-Star Game. He was named as one of the Top Rising Juniors at Summer Shootout by NJ Hoops and picked to play for the Five-Star Orange & White Classic All-Star Team at the New York National Super Session in August 2012. And if that wasn’t enough, he was also a second-team All-South Jersey selection.
Klinewski said Lafayette coaches approached him after he played in a tournament in Pittsburgh for his AAU team, Team Speed. The relationship with Lafayette head coach Fran O’Hanlon was a familiar one.
“Coach O’Hanlon reminds me of coach Murphy, and that is one of the biggest reasons I chose Lafayette,” Klinewski said. “It just felt right.”
He had also considered New Hampshire, Davidson, Buffalo, Holy Cross, Colgate, William and Mary, Binghampton, Sacred Heart, Columbia, Bucknell, Penn, Navy, Martist, Monmouth, Rider, Delaware and Hofstra. In addition to Murphy, Klinewski credited his workout coaches Omar Wellington of Nexxt Level and Tony Decker of Adapt2Win for helping him into position to earn a Division I scholarship.
“I look up to them and they have been my biggest supporters,” Klinewski said.