Capital Christian wing Matt Donlan made his decision to leave the state and head to a school that was a tournament team last season. NCP's Division V Player of the Year decided to attend South Dakota State after he received interest from several Division I programs.
"I fit in really well with the Jacks style of play and the fact that they won 28 games and went to the tournament was obviously a factor," said Donlan. "The fans in South Dakota love to support the team and Frost Arena is a fantastic venue to play in. The coaches are quality guys and I know they will help me improve my game. I was most impressed by the way they recruited me. A lot of schools were big on making great promises about what I could achieve there but [head] coach [Scott] Nagy and [assistant] coach [Austin] Hansen were more humble and realistic and I just really respect their expertise. I also was super impressed by the quality of the team that I would get to play with. Every single one of the guys is a top quality players, they shoot the ball well, they work together as a unit and that really appeals to me. I'm a player who likes to follow instruction and execute and SDSU is exactly that type of program."
In the past season, Donlan averaged 17.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. His Capital Christian squad finished the year with a 26-6 record and Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title. The Cougars were sent home after a narrow 44-42 loss to Branson in the second round of the NorCal regional tournament, but it did not take away from the successful season.
"We had a great team and we achieved a lot which was fantastic," Donlan added. "It was a blast playing at Arco Arena too, we all just had the best time there. We really grew as a team, we had a shared vision of what we wanted to achieve and everyone worked really hard to make sure that we gave ourselves the best possible chance to achieve that."
The 6-foot-7, 185 pounder also held offers from Duquesne, Houston Baptist, IUPUI, James Madison, Oakland, Stetson, and Wright State with walk-on opportunities from Boise State and Richmond. He was also in contact with an abundance of other schools, which included Davidson, Denver, Nebraska, Richmond, and Utah. Donlan took official visits to IUPUI, James Madison, South Dakota State, and Stetson along with an unofficial to Utah.
"I was very blessed to meet and talk with a lot of schools and programs and to actually choose between a variety of programs," he continued. "That's how I know that South Dakota is exactly the right choice for me. I was blessed to be able to make a very informed decision."
In the classroom, Donlan holds a 3.5 GPA and will major in Business/Economics. He had planned on majoring in International Business to travel and play overseas, but it was not offered at South Dakota State.
On the new signing, South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy told GoJacks.com, "Matt is another great fit for our basketball program. He's an extremely gifted shooter and his size and athleticism will allow us to play him at a couple of different positions on the floor. Matt's a guy that continues to get better and better because of his tireless work ethic, and we're very excited to add a player of Matt's character and talent this late in the recruiting process. I fully expect him play a big role in the future of South Dakota State basketball."
To improve, Donlan will try to get stronger and improve his ball handling. He is typically compared to former Butler star Gordon Hayward, due to their similarities in athleticism, offensive diversity, and smooth jump shot.
The future Jackrabbit will be the only California native on the roster, but is used to new places since he moved to California after he was born in Australia. When he graduates from South Dakota State, Donlan already has big goals that he hopes to achieve.
"My long term goal is to play for Australia in the 2020 Olympics," Donlan finished. "Its been a long time dream of mine to make the Australian team. I was born in Melbourne and only moved to California when I was 9. I love living in California but a tiny part of me will always be an Aussie. My school always did an 'aussie aussie aussie' chant for me, I will miss the Capital Christian Blue Crew!"
Donlan was a good find for South Dakota State, and look for the Jackrabbits to possibly bust some brackets in the future with the help of the Aussie.