Back in the game

UVM forward returns to college hoops after three years off
UVM forward returns to college hoops after three years off
Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 12:39 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Just last spring, Matt Veretto was a student at the University of Connecticut. His lone season playing college hoops for the University of Delaware was three years in the past, and he thought his playing career was, as well. Graduation was approaching, and his post-grad life was waiting for him.

“I did think I was finished. I accepted a job in New York, I was ready to move on to the adult world a little bit,” Veretto said.

But he couldn’t quite scratch the itch of being on the court.

“A few days before the transfer portal was about to close, it hit me, I had that drive again. It kept coming throughout the three years, but that was the most serious point,” he said. “Once that happened and I hit the portal, I gave it one last shot. I said, if I’m going to get offered by any schools and if they trust I’m going to play there, then I’d do it.”

UVM was one of the programs interested in Veretto as a high schooler. Even without a long college resume, they still liked what they saw in his game. So, they picked up the phone, and he answered.

“As soon as I entered the transfer portal, [associate head] coach [Ryan] Schneider reached out and decided he wanted to give me a chance to work out here. That’s where it kicked off, I was up here three days later, so that was really exciting.”

Getting back into playing shape didn’t happen over those three days, but Veretto powered through anyway.

“About 15 minutes into the workout, he had his head in the garbage can. He took a couple minutes, gathered himself, and just went back at it for another hour,” UVM head coach John Becker said. “We told him, you don’t need to rip the rim down every time you finish. He said ‘okay,’ and then ripped the rim down again. He has one speed, and you love that about him.”

That workout would prove to be symbolic of his Catamount career thus far. He missed most of the summer dealing with injury, but bounced back, and ended up playing 27 minutes in the Cats’ first exhibition.

“The nerves kind of got to me a little bit. The nerves the conditioning, everything,” Veretto said of his return to game action. “But after a few games, I settled in a little bit, just kept hitting the practice floor hard, trying to get back in shape.”

From there, Becker and the coaches planned to ease Veretto back into the rotation. But injuries in the frontcourt have changed plans.

“I thought we could bring Matt along and be patient with him as he works off the rust, but he’s accelerated that process, and now he’s starting,” Becker said. “He’s been huge for us.”

Since he joined the starting lineup, he’s averaged almost 20 minutes per game, and poured in a season-high 14 points in a massive win at Colgate. Picking up a career he left behind three years ago, while chasing a Master’s degree in accounting along the way.

“It’s a little tough, the classes aren’t easy, but I’ve been able to balance it being on the road and everything,” Veretto said. “I think the coaches have been really helpful in making sure everybody does their study hall hours. That’s been the biggest thing, constantly putting the work in both on and off the court to make sure there’s no issues.”