Player Spotlight – Fox Chapel’s Matt D’Amico
By: Steve Brodzinski, Pittsburgh Basketball Report
In the WPIAL’s largest classification, Quad-A, there are no nights off. Certain programs seem to re-load with talent year after year. To find success at this level is very difficult, but to add longevity to that success is very uncommon. Fox Chapel’s 6’3” senior shooting guard Matt D’Amico has found both of those things during his four year varsity career.
After averaging 22.4 ppg as a junior, Matt has led all of class Quad-A in scoring for much of the season at around 23ppg. Known mostly for his scoring, Matt knows that this is something he has to bring to the table in order for his team to be successful. “I go into every game trying to be aggressive and help my team win. I understand my role of being aggressive is what my team needs to be successful,” D’Amico said. “I have great players around me like Billy (Urso) and Brian (Papich), and I know that I can rely on them too. When teams try to double team me, I have full confidence in my teammates to score as well.” Papich has supplied plenty of support, as he nears the career 1,000 point mark.
D’Amico has already passed the career 1,000 point mark, and then a couple of weeks later became his schools’ all-time leading scorer by passing 1989 graduate Dave Ostrosky’s mark of 1,312 points. “It means a lot to me, and it is a great accomplishment,” D’Amico said. “I can come back 20 years from now, and I can always talk about that. At the same time it’s an individual accomplishment, and I am more interested in my team’s accomplishments…I want a championship.” Coming into the season, D’Amico had big goals for his team. “We wanted to win the section, win the WPIAL, and go as far as we could in the PIAA playoffs. We knew that we had a good returning squad and knew we had the ability to do something special this year.”
Winning a championship has been on D’Amico and Fox Chapel’s mind most of this season. Starting the year off hot, the Foxes have stumbled at times in section play. “I feel that we started off strong, and then almost became satisfied. We got caught up in the hype,” said D’Amico. “I think we lost our sense of urgency, but we have been able to pick that back up and I feel like we are peaking at just the right time heading into the playoffs.” That sense of urgency is going to be necessary, as the Foxes’ next three games against Gateway, Plum, and Central Catholic, will determine their finish in the section and seeding in the playoffs. “I could see us finishing in second place,” said D’Amico. “Plum is I think 9-2 and we are 7-4 at the moment. We would have to essentially win out, but I would hope that we could finish in at least second place.”
Their finish in the section will determine when they would have to meet up with powerhouse programs New Castle and Hampton in the playoffs. “I feel that we can match up with anyone, but New Castle and Hampton are two that I would rather not face until later in the playoffs.” D’Amico said. “Hampton has size and New Castle has athleticism, but at the same time, I feel that we can beat anyone if we play the way we are capable of playing.”
That confidence and determination is part of what has garnered D’Amico a large number of college suitors. While there is a laundry list of NCAA Division 3 programs have been recruiting him hard, his recent play is finally opening the eyes of NCAA Division 2 programs. D’Amico is currently hearing from schools like Davis & Elkins, Alderson Broaddus, Clarion University, Concord, and Glenville State. His high basketball IQ, tremendous shooting ability, and overall toughness are definitely selling points for his recruiting, but it goes even deeper. “I am willing to put in the work. I have a great work ethic and I compete every day,” said D’Amico. “That is my mentality. I feel that I can definitely play at the scholarship level.”
Breaking away from the selfish stigma that surrounds many successful athletes today, Matt D’Amico’s greatest quality could be his selfless approach. Regardless of all of his individual success and scoring accolades, Matt constantly refers back to his team goals. But the individual attention is much deserved. A high character individual, with very good grades, and a tremendous work ethic, the longevity of D’Amico’s individual success is no accident. The next few weeks will determine if his individual successes can translate into his ultimate goal of a WPIAL Championship.