Irvington’s Nick Brennen took the long way home, but hopes it will pay off in the end.
The 2017 graduate of Iona Prep in New Rochelle opted for a post-grad year at Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy before heading down to Bryn Mawr, just outside of Philadelphia, for two more seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) at Harcum Junior College.
Now, the 6-foot-5, 21-year-old guard is set to play Division 1 basketball at Manhattan College in Riverdale.
“I needed to get a better SAT score and better GPA,” Brennen said of his decision to forgo playing in Division 1 immediately after leaving Iona. “And it was an opportunity to get a lot of exposure at one of the best prep schools in the country.”
Sidelined during his time at Putnam Science, Brennen didn’t draw the attention from college programs he was hoping to attract.
“I chose Harcum because I did not get the looks I wanted,” he said.
In 31 games at Harcum this past season, Brennen averaged 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per outing on a team that went 26-5. He shot 39.5% from behind the three-point arc, which registered with D-1 coaches. In addition to Manhattan, Brennen was recruited by Fairleigh Dickinson, Rider, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“Because of Covid-19, I never officially visited the [Manhattan] campus and school, but I have been there before and have always liked it,” Brennen said. “Some deciding factors were the fact that it is close to home — my family will be able to come to most of my games. Also having a good relationship with the coaches made me comfortable with choosing Manhattan.”
Brennen was also impressed with Manhattan’s Steve Masiello, who is entering his 10th season as the Jaspers’ head coach.
“He’s a straight shooter, he’s going to tell me how it is,” Brennen said. “He cares about his players aside from basketball, which I immediately noticed after the first time speaking with him.
“I think I am an all-around player and can do a little bit of everything,” Brennen continued. “Some things I can bring to Manhattan basketball are my ability to shoot, my IQ and, being an older guy, I think I can bring experience and leadership.”
During the lockdown because of the pandemic, Brennen has worked to remain in basketball shape.
“I have been lucky enough to be able to get in the gym just about every day for basketball and weight [training],” he said. “And days I’m not able to, I’ll go to the track by my house.”
Brennen joins a Manhattan program that finished last season at 13-18, losing in the second round of the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. The Jaspers last qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2015 when they lost a first-round game to Hampton.
“I’m looking forward to getting on the court as soon as possible with my teammates and winning games,” Brennen said.