AU men’s basketball signs two recruits to Class of 2021
Elijah Stephens and Matt Delaney sign National Letters of Intent after verbal commitments
The American University men’s basketball team announced two commitments to its 2021 Class last week with the signings of guard Elijah Stephens and forward Matt Delaney.
Delaney, a 6-foot-7 power forward, hails from St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey, the same high school AU men’s basketball all-time leading scorer Sa’eed Nelson attended. Delaney averaged 16.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game during his junior year at St. Augustine, and led his team to the South Jersey Non-Public A Championship. He was also named to the All-Conference First Team.
"Matt plays for an elite coach and program in Paul Rodio and St. Augustine Prep so he understands everything that goes into winning at a high level," said Mike Brennan, AU men’s basketball head coach, in a press release. "But what really excites me are all of his intangibles: his demeanor, competitiveness, aggression, coachability, and being a great teammate."
Delaney said the symbiotic relationship between St. Augustine and AU, from Nelson to Eagles assistant coach Scott Greenman (who also attended St. Augustine) played a huge role in his decision.
“It’s a great school academic-wise, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with that, but the connection there with St. Augustine was a big part of (the commitment),” Delaney said in an August interview with Press of Atlantic City.
While Delaney is expected to patrol the paint in his time as an Eagle, Stephens is a 5-foot-9 lefty point guard known for his quickness and scoring ability.
Hailing from China Spring High School in Texas, Stephens averaged 27 points per game in his junior season, and bumped that average up to 33 during his team’s playoff run before being named the Waco Tribune-Herald Player of the Year among Central Texas athletes. Stephens is also an impressive rebounder at his size, grabbing seven boards per game during the playoffs. For Stephens, the commitment to AU was a long-time coming in his goal to become a Division I athlete.
“Yeah, there were some nights where I was like, maybe I won’t be able to get to that level, be able to play against that competition,” Stephens said in a November article for the Waco Tribune-Herald. “It just drove me to work harder.”
With Nelson graduating this past year, and senior guards Jamir Harris and Stacy Beckton Jr. preparing to play their last seasons for AU, Stephens will be a part of the new era of the Eagle backcourt alongside current freshman point guard Colin Smalls. Brennan expects Stephens’ aggressive style of play to fit right in at AU.
"Elijah is a fast point guard that does everything well. He makes other players better and is a great defender that gets steals and goes after loose balls," Brennan said in the press release. "He fits perfectly at AU and is able to do all of these things because of his elite feel for the game. His most attractive quality, though, is the type of kid he is: a leader, competitive, and fearless."
These two recruits come after AU added six new freshmen to their 2020 recruiting class, who will be starting their Eagle careers this upcoming season. With four seniors expected to graduate after this season, AU is on track to have a very young team when Stephens and Delaney arrive for the 2021-22 season.