His high school coach at Old Rochester, Steve Carvalho, might still miss Matt Valles this year – even with the team starting off the season with a 5-0 record through December – but the 6-foot-6 forward has moved on to the college game and is already 10 games deep, starting every game to this point in Division III Gordon College’s young season.
Combining with Garrisson Duvivier of Brockton, the two make up the Fighting Scots’ frontcourt, with Valles playing the four on defense and holding down the post on offense.
“We compliment each other well on the court,” Valles said. “He’s my height, but he’s stronger, more of a center-type. I usually guard the four on defense because I can move quicker than him. I just give more length and mobility.”
Valles’ athleticism continues to make him a force in the post, much like he was in high school. But Gordon has worked on his shot from long range with hopes of him stretching the floor, especially when his 6-foot-11 teammate and classmate Parker Omslaer is in the game.
So far, Valles is averaging 6.3 points per game and 3.2 boards a night, playing 17.7 minutes a game on average. The stat-line looks a bit different from what the Mattapoisett native was posting in high school, but those are solid numbers for a freshman to start their college career. Plus, a drop in numbers is to be expected, given the jump in talent.
“It’s nice to have everyone who knows the game in an out and the speed is different,” Valles said. “That’s the biggest difference … the speed is way quicker than high school. I think because of the athleticism. Everyone wants to run, everyone wants to shoot – everyone’s a shooter no matter how tall they are.”
Not only has the speed picked up for Valles, but he’s also dealing with a greater defensive responsibility, guarding the opposing power forward. The freshman went from guarding the tallest player on the opposing team to handling the most athletic player on the opposing team.
“It’s been going very well,” Valles said. “We’ve been down to business since I got here. We do cone drills and other drills. Coach is really keen on man-to-man defense and hedging. We have been doing some switching lately, too.”
That all being said, Valles has been faced with the same challenge all freshmen student-athletes deal with – balancing the major class load while having practices, team workouts and games everyday. It’s something he’ll battle his entire career, but will help him adjust to the real world by the end of his four years as a Fighting Scot.
“Balancing school for sure is tough,” Valles said. “There’s a lot of time you have to devote, especially at this level, between lift and practice and film.”
Mile Wright (Tabor ‘14) is in his senior campaign with Dartmouth College basketball, starting the year 205 points away from the 1,000-point mark. The 6-foot-5 guard has chipped away at the mark, now only 70 points away, having already scored 135 through 11 games this season, averaging 12.3 per game. He’s been doing a bit of everything for the Big Green, averaging 4.9 rebounds a game, 1.6 steals and .9 blocks (10 in 11 games) from the guard position.
On the college hockey front, Tabor alum (‘15) Erik Foley is dominating the ice for No. 11 Providence College. The Friars are off to a 10-7-1 start, in large part because of Foley’s play, leading the team with 24 points and 11 goals through 18 games. The junior forward is just outside the top 10 in the country in points per game, averaging 1.33 through 18 games. He’s also tied for 14th in the nation in points and tied for 15th in goals. Of his 24 points, nine have come on the power play (four goals and five assists).
Foley’s teammate at Tabor, Nicholas Godin (’16), is building off a strong start to his career with Division II Stonehill. The sophomore had two goals last year with four assists in 22 games played. This year, the forward has three assists in 12 games played. Godin and the Skyhawks are 4-7-1 to start the 2017-2018 campaign and are set to play Johnson and Wales University to start 2018.
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar