AS Irish basketball begins to tiptoe back to normality, Neptune’s Eli Lenihan has made a huge leap in his own basketball career, committing to Spring Hill College, Alabama.
The move comes on the back of a restricted but successful year at The MacDuffie School in Massachusetts where Lenihan gained the necessary exposure to earn him an NCAA Division 2 scholarship.
“MacDuffie has helped me massively in guiding me towards college basketball.
“We practiced consistently and got in the weight room two or three days a week also.”
However, Lenihan attributes the majority of his development to the standard of players that he was surrounded by day after day.
“Playing and competing against college level athletes daily is the best preparation possible.”
Even during a year hindered by the pandemic, Lenihan managed to attract numerous offers and constant attention from college coaches of all levels.
After weeks of mulling offers and visiting schools, the 6’4” Irish international made his commitment to play for Craig Kennedy in Mobile, Alabama official on social media.
“I’ve been speaking to Coach Kennedy almost every day since I began contacting him a few months ago.
“He has been very helpful and honest in terms of explaining how I should prepare for next year, explaining their system and describing the culture that he has built at Spring Hill College.”
The transition from competing for National Cups here in Ireland to playing regularly against high-calibre college prospects was seamless for Lenihan.
His experience representing Ireland at the FIBA European Championships undoubtedly played a helping hand in coping with elite-level competition.
He hopes that the same experiences which he has gained along the way will allow him to flourish on the college platform.
“I think that I will fit in well at the next level.
“Naturally, it is a massive step up to play at the college level, but I believe that I am adaptable and that I will fit into whatever role that Coach Kennedy asks me to take on.”
Coming up on nearly a year abroad, Lenihan’s development has springboarded him into the college limelight, fulfilling an early childhood dream of his.
Nevertheless, he continues to reflect fondly on his last decade of play in a Neptune jersey.
“I miss Cork Basketball for sure. There is still no place like ‘the Shed’ (Neptune Stadium) or The Parochial Hall on a Tuesday night.
Lenihan joins a growing list of Cork basketball products to take their talents abroad, devoutly proud of his basketball roots in the Rebel county.
“It is amazing how many collegiate players Cork has produced in the last few years. It’s known as the capital of Irish basketball for a reason.”