Since coming to Andover as a new Lower, Co-Captain Matteo Whelton ’20 has brought experience from the U18 Switzerland National Team to make himself an integral part of Andover Boys Basketball. According to Whelton, his enthusiasm for basketball stems from the freedom to play however he wants.
“My favorite part about basketball is how it’s a way to express yourself. Different players have different styles of how they play basketball, and I think it’s just a way for people to express themselves in how they play and show how they are as a person on the court,” said Whelton.
Following his parents who were both skilled basketball players, Whelton found a love for the sport at a young age.
Whelton said, “I’ve been playing basketball ever since I could walk. My mom and my dad both played, my mom played professionally and then my dad became a professional basketball coach. I think just following my dad’s team around when I was younger and just always being in a gym contributed to me starting to play basketball.”
With his unwavering commitment and competitive spirit, Whelton leads the team with his determination, according to Head Coach Terrell Ivory ’00.
Coach Ivory said, “Matteo has earned the position of Co-Captain because he’s a really good leader. He leads by example, and the kids respect him. It’s great how hard he works and how he loves being in the gym. He’s a fierce competitor, and he can tell that if there’s something that needs to be done, like if we need him to make a play, he loves stepping up and doing everything he can to help the team.”
Playing point guard, Whelton uses his versatility and court awareness to pose as an offensive threat, according to Co-Captain Dallion Johnson ’20 and Marcus Filien PG’19.
Johnson said, “On the court, I have learned that he has unlimited range. He can pull up and shoot from anywhere. When he dribbles past half court, you better put a hand in his face, or else that’s three points for us and your coach is subbing you out of the game.”
In an email to The Phillipian, Filien wrote, “Matteo is a very skilled and versatile basketball player. He shoots the heck out of the ball, and his court vision is remarkable. He also knows what his teammates’ strengths and weaknesses are on the court, and then puts them in the best position to help the team win.”
Whelton’s vision on the court helps him to lead and adapt, according to Coach Ivory.
“As a point guard, he’s an extension of the coach on the floor. I can’t see what he can see because he’s out there on the court. His awareness and how he is about giving me feedback and making adjustments has been really helpful for me,” said Ivory.
As a Co-Captain, Whelton has tried to mold to his team, working off of his teammates strengths and bringing them into his play.
Whelton said, “I hope to bring constant leadership and a voice in the locker room and on the court, and just a positive reinforcement for everyone during games. Being on this team I noticed how hard everybody works on and off the court, and I think I’ve tried to take bits of everyone’s work habits and tried to incorporate it into my own life and the way I lead others.”
According to teammates Ray Shoemaker ’20 and Jack Penney ’21, Whelton’s vocal presence brings energy and helps to holds his team accountable during practices and games.
Shoemaker said, “As a captain he’s very outgoing in practice and has a great vocal stance which provides motivation to the team. I think his talent of motivating the team his best talent just because it shows how much of a team player he is. During practices, Matteo makes sure that we pick up the energy and makes sure that we give nothing but our best as a team, which is why I consider him a great leader.”
Penney said, “Matteo is always vocal, and his passion and attitude leads our team. His vocal presence and his determination spreads throughout all of us, and it motivates us and gives us energy on the court in practice and in games.”
Whelton’s steady faith in his teammates, regardless of the situation, reverberates throughout the team, according to Nick Thomas ’21 and Penney.
Thomas said, “Matteo, as everyone knows, is a great player. But what people don’t know is that he is a genuine, caring captain. He is always keeping his head up even in the worst conditions. He brings us up and doesn’t let us put our heads down.”
Penney said, “He’s always there for us and makes it known he will do anything for us. He is always talking about the next play no matter what has happened before, and he never gets caught up in his own mistakes before he helps a teammate out.”
Looking forward, Whelton has his sights set on the league title.
Whelton said, “The goal for our team always is to win a championship. We work hard every day in practice and in games to reach that goal and hopefully at the end of the year we can win a championship.”