Saint Mary’s Hoopster
Matthew Dellavedova talks about his experience in the Olympics.
Tod Fierner/SMC Athletics
For someone whose lifelong dream was to compete in the Olympics, Saint Mary’s College basketball star Matthew Dellavedova had quite the assignment when he got there: guarding NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Dellavedova, playing for his native Australia, didn’t flinch at the challenge.
“You don’t go out on the court and say, ‘Wow, it’s Kobe!’ ” says the 22-year-old senior. “You see him as an opponent, and you go out there and try to win.”
Dellavedova and his fellow Aussies hung in against the U.S. powerhouse, before getting blown out in the fourth quarter of the quarterfinal game. Which was enough to make residents of tiny Maryborough, Victoria—where basketball takes a backseat to cricket and Aussie rules football—plenty proud of Dellavedova, the first Olympian in his hometown’s history.
Hoops fans here in the East Bay also love “Delly.” The six-foot-four-inch point guard has been a key force during Saint Mary’s recent surge as a basketball power. In Dellavedova’s first year, the Gaels went to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament; last year, they won the West Coast Conference title and returned to the “Big Dance.”
“It’s funny; you don’t remember the moments of winning a big game as much as you do all the practices and workouts and team meetings,” he says. “The team here has always been like a family, and I guess I look back on our successes, on what we went through to earn them.”
Dellavedova also has starred in the classroom: The psychology major is one of five first-team Academic All-Americans, joining players from Duke and North Carolina for that national honor. He hopes to go pro after his final year at Saint Mary’s, possibly in the European leagues. Until then, he’s thrilled to be playing ball in Moraga.
“This is such a beautiful place to live, and a great community,” says Dellavedova. “The people you see around town are the people you see at every game, supporting the team.”
For information about Gaels basketball, go to smcgaels.com.