SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Nick DeGennaro, one of Yorktown High School’s greatest shooters, has spent the last four years at Western New England University, where he reinvented himself and became one of the best passers in Division III basketball.
As a Husker, DeGennaro was twice named All-League and once named All-Conference. He left high school in 2016 as Yorktown’s all-time leader in made three-point shots. He played four years on the basketball team and one year each on the lacrosse and cross-country teams.
A role player his first three years at Western New England, DeGennaro entered the starting lineup in 2019-20 and led the Golden Bears in passing. In 25 games, he had 112 assists against just 42 turnovers. His 3.3 assist/turnover ratio was one of the best in the nation.
“I definitely looked to pass and not score as much, which was different than high school,” DeGennaro said.
On top of DeGennaro’s individual success, Western New England also had their best season in a decade. The Golden Bears went 15-11, finishing third in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
“The key to our team this year was how cohesive we were,” DeGennaro said. “Every night, we had different guys who stepped up as leading scorers. My role was to feed whoever was hot that night and get the ball into the right guy’s hands.”
DeGennaro said it was nice to achieve success with his fellow seniors.
“My freshman year was my coach’s first recruiting class,” DeGennaro said. “We were really young. We didn’t make the conference playoffs our freshman year. And to turn into a program that finished third and hosted a conference playoff game, that was something that was very out of reach when I first got to Western New England.”
That success was only possible because they put made the necessary commitment, DeGennaro said.
“It’s tough for a high-school student to understand the level of commitment,” DeGennaro said. “The biggest adjustment is really buying into what’s important.”
A key to success is managing time, especially with so many road games. College student-athletes, he said, need to choose between basketball, school and their social lives.
“Be good at two,” DeGennaro said.
His senior year, DeGennaro averaged 6.9 points, 4.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He also made 33 three-pointers.
“I don’t think I understood the game at as high of a level as I did in college,” DeGennaro said.
Western New England has already had a virtual graduation, meaning DeGennaro’s undergraduate days are over. The point guard said he will miss the bonds he formed with his teammates.
“That’s the thing I’ll miss about college,” he said. “Working hard with your teammates made it all worth it.”
The marketing major said he may continue his education at a graduate school in England, where he may also continue to play basketball.
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