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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Senior Matt Rogers continues his AU basketball career with fifth year of eligibility

Rogers to return for the 2024-2025 season as he pursues Master’s degree

American University senior forward Matt Rogers will return to the school for a fifth year of college basketball during the 2024-2025 season, a decision announced by AU’s men’s basketball team on March 29. 

Rogers, the Eagles’ leading scorer, received numerous postseason honors, thanks to his dominant post-play. Among his achievements, the 6’9 forward was named to the Patriot League's All-League First Team and the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District Second Team. Additionally, the Kogod School of Business senior was named to the Patriot League Academic All-League Team. Rogers averaged 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists during the 2023-2024 season.

A four-year member of the team, Rogers said he decided to stay at AU because of his strong connection with the basketball program and his upcoming master’s program in Kogod.

“It’s the relationships I've developed with not only the coaching staff, but with my teammates that I have been here with for now, going into my fifth year, and developing more relationships with the new guys that are coming in,” Rogers said.

Rogers added, “And just thinking more outside of basketball. Being a student-athlete.” 

The senior will graduate in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration. Rogers, who specializes in marketing, is a part of Kogod's combined bachelor's/master's program. As part of the five-year program, Rogers will receive a master’s in marketing degree in 2025. Rogers said that he is glad that he can complete both his final year of college basketball and his master’s program at AU next school year. 

The forward joined the team in the 2020-2021 season when the Eagles played only ten games due to COVID-19 protocols. Starting in 2020, many NCAA sports seasons were canceled or reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2020, the NCAA declared that winter sports athletes in the 2020-2021 season would receive an extra year of eligibility. Rogers is using his last year of eligibility at AU.

Jordan Gaitley, AU men’s basketball’s Director of Operations, is happy that Rogers is returning to the team. 

“I think for us, it'll be really important because it's really unique and rare when you look around, especially teams that are at our level when you're able to keep an all-conference guy, the caliber that Matt is,” Gaitley said. “So, having him and having a year under our belt with the team that we have and really the core that we have, it's going to be really important for us to grow and prove the winning part of next year.”

On March 29, the AU men’s basketball team announced on March 29 that senior forward Lincoln Ball and senior guard Colin Smalls would also be returning to AU for their fifth and final years of college basketball. Rogers is excited to play another season with his longtime teammates.  

“It's going to be amazing,” Rogers said. “Just having another year under our belt. We can be more comfortable with the system that coach Simp [Duane Simpkins] has implemented here. I mean, those are my brothers for four years now. So, we know each other, on and off the court very well. ”

Rogers added, “It's going to be exciting to teach the new guys coming in how we do things here and hopefully get to that championship.”

This past season, the Eagles had a record of 16-16. The team lost to Bucknell University 80-57 in the Patriot League tournament quarterfinals. Rogers said that the Eagles went through considerable adversity during the season because of the team's many injuries. Amidst this adversity, Rogers feels that he has become a more vocal leader.

“I've never been through something like this, so learning with them and growing with them off the court, getting these deeper relationships is definitely what I'm most proud of this season,” Rogers said.

This past season, Rogers was also satisfied with the progress that he made as a three-point shooter. Rogers shot 36.8% from three-point range during the 2023-2024 season. The senior made 49 three-pointers, which was 29 more than he made in the 2022-2023 season.

Next season, Rogers wants to build on the improvements that he made as a defender. 

“Defensively, it's just being a leader on the defensive side, being on the back end and being able to guard a little bit more of a three through five instead of just the five,” Rogers said. “I can do that a little bit more than I've done in the past. And that's definitely what I want to work on in the summer. Just being able to guard one through five, so I can be more versatile.”

Rogers is also looking forward to leading the team and guiding the incoming freshmen. Whether it’s teaching them how to balance schoolwork and basketball, or how to adjust to the college game, Rogers said that he will be available to help his new teammates. 

“So, just helping them get through all these adversities and knowing that they can get through it,” Rogers said. “Just like anybody.  Just like me, just like Lincoln [Ball], or Colin [Smalls]. Just knowing that they can get through anything if they just keep their head down and keep working.”

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Ariana Kavoossi. 

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