Matt Lentz was able to celebrate with his family and coaches.

Durant basketball forward Matt Lentz has become the first Cougar to sign to play college basketball at the Division I level since Andre Nation (James Madison University) in 2011. The 6’6” senior signed to play for Jacksonville University in November.

Lentz wasn’t initially planning on signing during the early signing period, but felt that it was the right time to do it, with the uncertainty of the pandemic. He and his family usually have a socially distant dinner at his aunt and uncle’s 12-acre property on Tuesdays, and they decided to have a last-second signing party amongst his family, friends and coaches to celebrate this milestone.

“It was really exciting, and kind of, in a way, a relief,” said Lentz. “You do all this work, you get up early, you don’t go out when other people go out, instead you go to the gym and you are constantly asking yourself if it’s all worth it—am I going to make my dream a reality? Until that moment when you get the offer, commit and sign, you really don’t know 100 percent that it’s going to happen. It’s a relief to know that all the hard work paid off in the end.”

Lentz, who had two other college offers, felt that Jacksonville was the right fit for him because the coaching staff wants to help him develop as a player and become the best that he can be. He also made an official visit to the school and became immediately comfortable on campus. He liked that the school also offers him a chance to get his master’s degree in four years.

Durant Head Coach Sean Hayes is impressed with Lentz’s work ethic, coachability and his leadership by example. Hayes, who is in his third season as head coach, believes that Lentz has helped build a successful foundation for his program to succeed for many years. He said that Lentz spends a lot of time in the weight room as well as the gym to improve his shot.

“He’s bought into everything that we’ve done. He gets to the gym early and sweeps the floor, he’s that kind of kid,” said Hayes. “It’s been awesome to have him around, I think the younger guys really look up to him.”

Lentz has come a long way since he began playing basketball just six years ago. He started playing for Durant as a sophomore after previously being homeschooled the year before. The 6’6” forward is very versatile on the floor, playing both inside and out. He is also a great student and works hard in the classroom.

Lentz wants to help lead Durant to a district and state title before he moves on to the next level. He also wants to continue to develop his skills as a basketball player and a leader. Lentz hopes to play pro basketball and eventually become a coach when his career is over.

Hayes believes that Lentz’s basketball future is limitless, and that he will be a great college basketball player and have a chance to play pro basketball as well.

“We are extremely excited for him,” said Hayes. “It’s been a long process.”

Previous articleEye On Business; Valrico, December 2020
Next articlePlant City Photo Archives And History Center Features Veterans Exhibit
Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.