Narrowing his college destination between Middlebury College or the University of Vermont, Matt St. Amour had a difficult choice to make.
St. Amour detailed his options as such:
* Accept a walk-on spot at UVM, where he’d have a roster spot with no guarantees for a scholarship;
* Head to Middlebury, a NESCAC program that has turned into a Division III national power.
Calling it “the toughest thing I’ve had to choose in my life,” St. Amour picked Middlebury, confirming his decision to the Burlington Free Press in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
“I’ve always been a Vermont kid and I felt I always wanted to continue to play in front of my Vermont fans,” said the Missisquoi Valley Union High School star. “UVM would have been a great opportunity, always been one of my dreams to play for them, but I feel Middlebury was a better fit.”
St. Amour, the Free Press’ Mr. Basketball last year, also considered Tufts, Siena and Babson as possible landing spots. He said prep-school considerations were nixed earlier in the process.
A two-time Gatorade winner as Vermont’s top basketball player, St. Amour averaged 30.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.4 steals per game as a senior, leading the Thunderbirds (13-9) to the Division I quarterfinals. He was the sixth Vermont boy to surpass the 2,000-point benchmark, finishing his career as No. 3 on the state list at 2,064.
But the offers from Division I schools weren’t on the table, a dose of reality for St. Amour.
“It was definitely frustrating — that was my dream, but it’s also not everything and I realized that,” St. Amour said. “I’m happy with my decision and I would have not done it any other way. I don’t have any regrets and I’m looking forward going down there for four years.”
St. Amour will join a Middlebury program that graduates captains Jake Wolfin, Nolan Thompson and Peter Lynch, part of a senior class that piled up a school-record 103 wins and reached the NCAA Division III semifinals in 2011. Earlier this month, making their sixth straight tournament appearance, the Panthers (25-4) fell in the quarterfinals.
“Middlebury told me I was their No. 1 option all along. I know I can be an important role on their team. I felt they were interested in wanting me to play there,” St. Amour said. “Middlebury doesn’t like to lose that much and that’s something that I enjoy.
“I plan on having a successful career and win a national championship — that’s definitely a goal.”
Missisquoi coach Jim Bose said St. Amour’s potential has yet to be reached.
“I think Matt is really going to fit in well there. He’s going to get stronger and I definitely think he’ll be an impact player,” Bose said. “When he gets into a college program, he’s going to get better and better and better.”
Although he’s also a soccer and basketball standout at Missisquoi, St. Amour said he’s focused on basketball at Middlebury. However, he left open the possibility of playing a second sport.
When asked to speak with Middlebury coach Jeff Brown, sports information director Brad Nadeau said in an email the school “could not comment at this time.”