AP NEWS

Rivera Leaving UML

April 6, 2019

LOWELL -- Lowell native Alex Rivera is leaving the UMass Lowell men’s basketball program.

The freshman guard, who is Lowell High School’s all-time leading boys’ scorer and was a two-time Sun Player of the Year, said he finalized his decision on Friday after a couple weeks of discussions about his future with UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette and his staff. It’s undoubtedly a surprising turn of events, after the 2018 LHS grad opted to decline other D-1 scholarship offers in favor of playing his college ball in his hometown.

Rivera said he hopes to transfer to another Division 1 program, preferably a mid-major, but doesn’t have any definitive plans yet.

The 6-foot-1 Rivera appeared in 30 of the 32 games this past season for UMass Lowell (15-17). He averaged 9.2 points (fourth on the team) and 3.4 rebounds in 24.9 minutes (fourth on the team), while shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point land.

He burst onto the scene for UML by averaging 13.9 points through his first 11 games. He shot 52.9 percent from the floor during that span and 43.3 percent from 3-point land, and had a 19-point outburst against Duquesne. But in 16 America East Conference games to close the season, Rivera averaged just 6.6 points.

“I just felt like coming (to UMass Lowell) I was going to be more than what I was,” said Rivera. “It was just a lack of touches. I thought the way I played through the first seven or eight games would get me a bigger role, but it never came to that.

“I want to be better than what I am. I think I’ve shown that I’m good enough to play and I would like that chance to play against high-major athletes. I just want to find a good place that I can trust will be best for me. There’s still that friendship at UMass Lowell. Coach Duquette told me the truth and to do what’s best for me. It’s nothing but love.”

Rivera thanked the UMass Lowell coaches and his teammates for supporting his decision.

“He’s a good kid, I wish him the best,” said Duquette via text message.

Rivera also said that he feels the time is right for him to leave his beloved Lowell, a city where he has become something of a local legend. He has many dedicated family members and friends who hardly ever miss watching him play.

“It was a dream of mine to play in Lowell. I grew up here and I always wanted to come (to UMass Lowell),” Rivera said. “But I didn’t think about my decision as much as I should’ve at the time.

“My family just wants me to be happy and to do what works best for me.”

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone