|Isaiah Nelsen has been a shot in the arm for Babson, averaging 16.7 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds in his first season with the Beavers.
Babson athletics photo
When Babson men’s basketball head coach Stephen Brennan was an assistant coach under Serge DeBari, he noticed a unique trend that assisted the Beavers in contending for NCAA hardware.
“Every one of our successful NCAA teams has had (at least one transfer) on them,” said Brennan. “These student-athletes have been critical to our success as they come complimentary and (become) dominant pieces in our program.
“In most cases their talents, character and work ethic has augmented our talent pool and allowed us to play at an elite level.”
Babson has welcomed numerous transfers over the years to join the program, including Matt Miller, who transferred from SMU (now UMass-Dartmouth) and guided the Green and White to an impressive 62-17 record in three seasons. Miller, who graduated in 1993, concluded his career with 1,109 points – currently 19th in program history in scoring – before being inducted into the athletic department’s hall of fame in 2011.
Following Miller’s final game with the Beavers, the program continued to open its doors to multiple transfers, including Kenny Ross, Eric Dean, Matt Webster, Chris Michalowski and CJ Enere. With these additions, the Green and White inched closer toward its ultimate goal of winning the school’s first-ever national championship.
Said Brennan, “After being at another school most transfers are excited about separating themselves via our curriculum and outcomes. They have an opportunity to either restart their basketball career or join a program that has terrific character guys on and off the court, which is also experiencing unprecedented winning.”
This season, Babson boasts a trio of Northeast-10 Conference (Division II) transfers on its roster, including juniors Matthew Droney and Isaiah Nelsen – two players that have appeared and started in 14 games this winter. Classmate Kyle Rodegher is the third transfer to join the program following a one-year stint with Stonehill College.
Before the trio arrived in Babson Park, Mass., Matthew, Kyle and Isaiah each began their collegiate careers at either Stonehill or Saint Anselm’s – all three student-athletes chose their initial institution based on academics and basketball.
Droney, who contemplated playing collegiate basketball, reconsidered his decision upon arriving at Stonehill when he met with head coach Chris Kraus and his staff. Following various dialogues, the current junior guard/forward returned to the hardwood to compete for a spot on the Stonehill roster.
With the Skyhawks, Droney appeared in six games off the bench and made his collegiate debut during the team’s 75-58 victory against Georgian Court in November 2013.
“I was very lucky that (head coach) Chris Krause gave me the opportunity to play again,” said Droney. “Stonehill does a great job teaching players how to really work hard and play the right way. The coaching staff taught me how to play the game and instilled values that I still carry today.”
Following his initial season with the Skyhawks, Droney decided to pursue other collegiate basketball opportunities and elected to transfer to Babson for his sophomore year. He chose to join the Green and White following numerous conversations with a former prep school teammate that concluded his first year with the program by being tabbed the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Rookie and Player of the Year.
“My roommate at prep school Joey Flannery really helped sway me (to transfer to Babson),” said Droney. “I loved playing with Joe and he knew I could help his team out. He told me about the strong academic reputation (Babson has) and the program’s winning culture, and he didn't need to say much more.
“It wasn't easy to leave Stonehill because I had a really good relationship with a lot of guys on the team and really liked the coaches, but I did what I thought was best.”
Since arriving at Babson, Droney has made an immediate impact with the program, starting in a pair of contests last season, while sinking the go-ahead triple in the Elite Eight game last spring against Trinity (Conn.) that sent the Beavers to the NCAA Division III semifinals.
“I certainly remember that shot,” Droney said of his three-point play.
“Obviously, I made the shot, but there were countless other guys who made play after play in that game to send us to the semifinals. I don't think about it too often because I am much more concerned with this year’s team, but I know it will be a memory I have for life.”
Similar to Droney, Rodegher also competed for the Skyhawks during the 2013-14 school year and appeared in four games. He registered a season and career high four points in a 110-84 setback against Southern Connecticut State, but chose to depart campus at the conclusion of his freshman year.
“I became interested in Babson when I came on a visit and learned about the success of its graduates,” said Rodegher. “It was an easy transition because the offseason and preseason are less vigorous.”
In his first season with the Beavers – last winter – Rodegher came off the bench in eight games and registered season-highs in points (six) and rebounds (two) in a 75-50 victory over Emerson.
Isaiah Nelsen – the most recent transfer to arrive in Babson Park – joined the Beavers following a pair of seasons at Saint Anselm’s. Nelsen made an immediate impact during his freshman year (2013-14) with the Hawks by tallying 34 points and three assists in 14 games.
This season, Nelsen is currently averaging 16.7 points and 8.9 rebounds. He netted a season-best 29 points in a triple-overtime setback against Amherst last month, while tallying a season-high 15 caroms in a 103-71 victory against Elms.
“I chose Babson because it is a great business school with a strong basketball program,” said Nelson. “My first season at Babson has been a great experience. Initially, I struggled with learning the offense and defense, but the coaching staff and my teammates have done a great job helping me play Babson basketball.”
The trio has meshed well with the current roster, helping the Beavers reach a 10-4 overall record and 4-0 league ledger heading into Wednesday’s conference clash with MIT. Their head coach is quite content with their effort and believes each student-athlete possess unique skills and qualities – similar to past transfers – that should help Babson extend its current campaign into March.
“Our current group of transfers has continued (the program’s) longstanding tradition of transfers raising our level of play,” said Brennan. “Matt has been a huge factor in (continuing our current success), possessing a high IQ, solid passing instincts and the ability to play multiple positions. Kyle has bonded with our team and helped expand the positive energy and togetherness, both on and off the court, which has been a critical factor in our run, while Isaiah has stepped in and become a primary scoring option for our team both in and out of league play.
“We have been incredibly fortunate to attract such high quality people to put our program in a terrific position to have the success we have experienced and hopefully have a great run this year in NEWMAC play.”
Said Droney, “Babson has just been a great place for me. I love playing for Coach Brennan. He is one of the best guys you'll find. He truly cares about his players on and off the court and is always around for whatever someone needs. This program has a great culture and it's a pleasure to be part of it.”