Santavenere Realizes Division I Dream

New England Recruiting Report | Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Santavenere Realizes Division I Dream

Middletown, Connecticut native P.J. Santavenere finally realized his lifelong dream recently when he signed scholarship papers at St. Francis College in New York. 

Santavenere took the road less traveled to get to this point, but was ultimately able to realize his goal through years of hard work and perseverance.   

He bounced around during the course of his high school career, starting at Xavier before transferring to Wethersfield and ultimately graduating from Middletown. 

He spent a post-graduate year at Rise Academy during the 2009-2010 season, before enrolling this year at St. Francis College as a prop 48 candidate. 

Due to NCAA rules, he wasn’t permitted to take part in any official team activity but continued to work out on his own and take part in open gyms during the off-season. 

“I had to pay my own way this year,” he said, “and I wasn’t allowed to do anything with the team but I still kept working.” 

St. Francis head coach Glenn Braica noticed Santavenere’s hard work and told him that if a scholarship came open the following season, and he was in good academic standing at the school, he would receive the full ride. 

That came to pass last week when Santavenere signed his long awaited scholarship papers. 

A product of the Connecticut Select program, Santavenere first got the news from former AAU coach Wayne Simone. 

“They called Wayne first and then Wayne told me,” Santavenere told the New England Recruiting Report.  “Once I talked to Coach Braica he told me I work hard and I’m a tough kid and he needed somebody to motor up to play.” 

Santavenere’s scholarship is a consequence of hard work in the classroom as well as on the basketball court.  He’s a far different player than the one who earned NWC all-conference honors two years ago. 

“I’m doing things in a different way than I did back then,” he said.  “I would say I’m much stronger now and more athletic than when I was a senior.  My game’s more based on my athleticism and how I run.” 

In addition to his quick bounce to play above the rim, Santavenere also boasts extremely long arms, consistent three-point range on his jumper, and an aggressive dribble drive game. 

His talents are no secret at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am, where he proved himself against top notch competition on a consistent basis last summer, topping the 25 point plateau on a number of different occasions. 

With his scholarship now in hand, he’ll look to prove himself on a bigger stage as he sets his sights on carving out a role for himself in the Northeast Conference next season.