Alvin Abreu, one of college basketball’s hidden gems

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Far too often, discussing college athletics centers around the kids that use their scholarship to develop their game for the professional level instead of using their sport to earn themselves an education.

That’s where the attention belongs. Like it or not, the majority of the viewing public is interested in college basketball because they either a) want a chance to catch of glimpse of who their favorite NBA team will be picking in the NBA Draft or b) they have pride (and money) on the line in whatever NCAA tournament pool they enter in. The relevant players, in those two instances, rarely come from the bottom of the Division I level.

But that doesn’t meant there aren’t plenty of terrific stories to be told.

Enter Alvin Abreu.

Abreu is officially a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, a full seven years after he graduated from high school in Lynn, MA. His story is a great one. Abreu didn’t start playing organized basketball until the ninth grade, after he had been cut from his middle school team in both seventh and eighth grade. He graduated at the ripe, young age of 17, which allowed him a chance to attend two different prep schools — The Gunnery in Connecticut and Boys to Men Academy in Chicago — before accepting a scholarship offer to UNH, one of just two he received.

What makes Abreu’s story even more compelling is the amount of off-the-court issues in his life during his time in prep school: his father died when he was 17, he son was born when he was 18 and his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer while he was in Chicago. He also had to overcome a ruptured patella during his junior year in high school.

Abreu came in with a recruiting class of seven kids, and while the Wildcats never turned into a powerhouse program in his tenure, he did average at least 12.7 points every season he was in college, including this past season, despite coming off of a torn ACL that cost him what would have been his senior season in 2010-2011. He injured in the first half of a game against Dartmouth, but returned to the game in the second half to spark a 15-point, come-from-behind win. He was diagnosed with the torn ACL a few days later.

Most impressive? He did it all while performing as an honor student in the classroom and managing to maintain a strong relationship with his son.

He’s an impressive kid. One Bid Wonders put together a terrific, albeit 55 minute long, documentary on Abreu, something I highly recommend you watch in its entirety:

[vimeo 42586952 w=600 h=450]

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.