Basketball remained important for Thomas Huerter.
But as he looked for his next school after announcing in March that he’d transfer from Siena College, finding the right spot for him became more about academics.
“I knew that with this year that I wanted to play one more year, but after being able to graduate from Siena this summer, I wanted to get something out of this year in the classroom, too,” Huerter said Thursday. “I didn’t want to go somewhere just to play.”
After playing three years for Siena following a high school career at Shenendehowa that included winning a state championship, Huerter tweeted out Thursday that he had transferred to Catholic University. Huerter started his classwork at Catholic late last month, but officially received Thursday his needed NCAA waiver to play this upcoming basketball season. While Huerter was a graduate transfer, he needed a waiver to play for the 2019-20 season because of his shift from the Division I level to Division III.
“Basketball, to be honest, the level wasn’t a consideration for me,” said Huerter, who said he received interest from programs at the Division I, II and III levels after announcing he’d leave Siena. “I wanted to go into a good situation and go to a school where I could play a lot and contribute a lot.”
Huerter joins a Catholic program coming off a 10-15 season. In April, the program hired new head coach Aaron Kelly, who had recruited Huerter and his brother Kevin Huerter — now with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks — when the coach was an assistant at Bucknell and the brothers were at Shenendehowa.
“So we had some history there,” said Thomas Huerter, whose father Tom Huerter played four seasons at Siena from 1987 to 1991. “A bunch of things came together.”
At the Division III level, Catholic won a national championship in 2001 and last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2016. Notably, its program’s alumni includes former Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos, who Huerter played for as a freshman and sophomore.
During his three seasons at Siena, the 22-year-old Thomas Huerter averaged 1.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 60 appearances. He earned an undergraduate degree in management from Siena and will pursue a master’s in business at Catholic, a university Huerter said appealed to him because of its academics and location in Washington, D.C.
If the waiver allowing him to play had not been granted, Huerter said he would have stayed at Catholic, anyway.
“But it’s definitely a sigh of relief I can play,” Huerter said.
In making the move from Division I to Division III, Huerter said the most significant adjustment at this point has been the lack of formal workouts he’s able to have with the team’s coaching staff until official practice starts. He’s excited, though, for a new opportunity to close out his college career.
“Nothing has been promised,” Huerter said. “But [Coach] has said I have a great opportunity to earn minutes and a role on the team.”