“This whole year, I’ve been trending upward,” says Matt Ryan. That qualifies as an understatement on the Cortlandt Manor native’s fast-rising trajectory in the high-stakes, fiercely competitive world of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The 6’7”, 215-pound forward spent 2021 grinding it out in the NBA’s farm system for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets.
In February 2022, Ryan, 24, made a strong impression as the second highest scorer on Team USA, the Men’s World Cup Qualifying squad in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
“It was a crazy couple of weeks in Washington, D.C.,” Ryan recalls. “We had two very important games to win, and I was lucky enough to play a big role in those wins. I had a few NBA teams calling and Boston was the first to make an offer.”
Ryan is what’s known in the NBA as a two-way player, additions to the 15-player roster who are available to play both for a franchise’s (minor league) G League team and its NBA team. After getting his sea legs with the Celtics’ Maine team, Ryan was scheduled to join the Boston squad for the last week and a half of the regular season, and then remain with them for the NBA’s post-season playoffs, which begin April 16.
“It’s a good sign they wanted to sign me for the rest of the season now,” Ryan says, clearly pumped about donning the jersey of one of the hottest and most storied teams in the league. “My first year playing professionally will go a long way to re-signing with Boston in the off-season or if other teams want to sign me.”
He acknowledges that, as a two-way player, “I don’t expect to touch the court at all during the playoffs. I will be ready but it’s unlikely. There’s a good chance I’ll see the court during the end of the regular season, which I’m excited about.”
After attending Blue Mountain Middle School (across the street from his family home), Ryan switched to Iona Prep for his high school years. He played baseball until sixth grade for Cortlandt American Little League. “My last year, I pitched in the championship game, which we won.”
Ryan says if it wasn’t for “my dad driving me up to Brewster Sports Center for six years [to play AAU and CYO club basketball) and Franco Foti coaching me as he did, I don’t know what my life would look like. I might have been a football player instead.”
Ryan’s dad Richard recently retired after 35 years at Indian Point. Mom Laurie is a math teacher in Elmsford. Older sister Mikela is studying Law at Marquette, and younger brother Mike is a senior at Iona Prep who plays football and runs track. “He’s probably a much better athlete than I was at his age,” says Matt with brotherly pride.