After season lost to injury, former Dallastown girls' basketball standout opts to transfer

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
Aniya Matthews, left, is seen here during her playing days at Dallastown High School.
  • Aniya Matthews recently decided to transfer from Temple to Delaware.
  • Matthews is a former Dallastown High School girls' basketball standout.
  • Matthews missed her freshman season at Temple in 2020-2021 with an Achilles tendon injury.

There was a lot of excitement when Aniya Matthews committed to play NCAA Division I college basketball at Temple.

A first-team York-Adams League Division I all-star, the 6-foot, 3-inch standout had high expectations for herself.

An Achilles tendon injury last October, however, derailed much of those plans, as well as all of Matthews’ initial college season.

During a difficult rehabilitation process, the Dallastown High School graduate had time to reflect on her place at Temple.

While it wasn’t easy, the former Wildcats standout concluded that she would be a better fit elsewhere. Taking advantage of the NCAA’s relaxed transfer process, Matthews entered the portal to seek out a fresh start.

Dallastown wins a second consecutive York-Adams League girls' basketball championship

That process concluded recently, with Matthews officially announcing her plan to transfer to Delaware, another NCAA D-I program, for the start of the 2021-22 season. Under a new NCAA rule, she won't have to sit out a season.

“I started thinking about this in March after the season was over,” Matthews said. “And I just decided (leaving Temple) would be the best for me at that time.”

The injury that Matthews suffered during preseason workouts in October certainly didn’t help matters. Instead of fighting for a spot in Temple’s starting lineup, Matthews instead focused entirely on recovering from the debilitating injury.

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During that time, Matthews was able to assess if Temple was actually the right fit for her. With the help of her family, as well as her former club coach, Kevin Glover, Matthews reached her decision.

“I just wanted to be somewhere I felt comfortable,” she said. “Somewhere I felt like I was appreciated.”

Finding a new home in Delaware: Delaware was one of the schools that recruited Matthews during her successful high school career. At the time, Matthews didn’t give much thought to the Delaware campus, which is located just 75 minutes from York County. However, she certainly took notice when the Blue Hens contacted her shortly after she entered the transfer portal.

“They reached out and expressed that they were still interested,” Matthews said. “I had a good relationship with their coaches, and I got to know coach (Natasha) Adair better, so I just felt like that was the right place.”

The Blue Hens advanced to the semifinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in March, something that drew the attention of Matthews.

“They had a great season this past year,” she said. “Made it to the Final Four in the WNIT. And the environment there was just really positive, from the head coach to the very last player on the roster.”

Delaware finished the season at 24-5 overall, with a 16-2 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association. Both of those records were better than Temple produced last season. The Owls were 11-11 overall and 11-7 in the American Athletic Conference.

The Blue Hens have also recently produced one of the best female post players in the world — 6-foot, 5-inch Elena Delle Donne, a two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player.

While Matthews isn’t guaranteed anything with the Hens at this time, she will again tower over the rest of her teammates. Only three others on the roster are over 6-feet tall, which could give Matthews an edge as the team’s primary post player.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.