Kearney, Neb. – Nebraska-Kearney men’s basketball coach Kevin Lofton announced today that New Zealand native Matt Brien will play for the Lopers this season. The 6-4, 200 pound guard is UNK’s fourth recruit to date, joining Wahoo High’s Winston Cook and junior college transfers RJ Pair (Garden City C.C., Kan.) and Jake Walker (Snow College, Utah). Brien has four years of eligibility remaining and will be older than most incoming American freshman. He spent this past season at OnPoint Academy, a prep school in El Reno, Okla. At OnPoint, Brien and the Panthers got to face other prep schools, junior colleges and junior varsity teams from the NAIA ranks. He went for 41 points in a loss to Eastern Oklahoma State in November; EOSC finished up 20-9 and has players going to Division I and Division II schools.
He also had a 42-point effort against the j.v. squad from NAIA Mid-American Christian (Okla.) University. Back home, Brien attended St. Kevin’s College in his hometown of Oamaru before transferring to St. Patrick’s College in the bigger city of Wellington. He helped St. Kevin’s win two New Zealand A titles, was named St. Pat’s Team MVP in 2017 and was twice named MVP of the Secondary School National Tournament. Finally, Brien is believed to be UNK’s first-ever “kiwi” student-athlete and is Loper men’s basketball’s second international player, following Japan’s Kenzo Maeda in the early 2000’s. UNK went 10-18 (5-14) this past season, playing an unprecedented 21 games decided by 10 points or less. Among the returnees in 2019-20 is senior forward Kyle Juhl and 2019 All-MIAA selection AJ Jackson.