Scoring points, ✓. Getting rebounds, ✓. Blocking shots, ✓.
That is just a short list of some of the many things Andrea Iavarone can do with ease on the basketball court. The Miller Place native, a four-year starter for St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, has been a dominant player across all of Division III athletics.
During her career, the 6-foot center earned weekly accolades by D3Hoops.com, Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Division II-III, and went on to win the Skyline Conference Player of the Year this past season.
Her relentless style of play also molded her into one of the best Golden Eagle player ever.
“You can talk about rebounds, you can talk about blocked shots, she is our best defender,” said St. Joseph’s head coach, Kelley Watts. “And on top of that, she is our best scorer.”
Her consistency mixed with her versatility, made for a perfect recipe to break almost every noteworthy school record during her career.
Iavarone is now St. Joseph’s all-time leading scorer (1,510), second all-time leading rebounder (1,112), and the single-season leader in blocks (60). On top of that, she also holds the record of highest percentages for field goals (53.9 percent) and free throws (80.4 percent), among other feats.
“All that hard work paid off,” Iavarone told GreaterPortJeff, referring to her individual accomplishments.
But, it didn’t come easy, she says.
“If I told my [high school] self about my college career, she would laugh,” said Iavarone.
Back at Miller Place High School, Iavarone was far from the team’s best player.
“I wasn’t a star player,” she explained. “I was more of a role player.”
Even though she wasn’t a sought-after prospect, Iavarone searched to find a school where she could pursue the sport she grew up loving.
But there was a contingency: it had to be the right fit academically, too.
That’s when she landed on St. Joseph’s College.
“It had the major that I wanted… and my high school coach knew the former coach of St. Joe’s,” she said. “So it was a perfect choice.”
As a freshman, Iavarone continued to develop as a player, and wound up becoming a Day 1 starter for her team.
But it wasn’t without some anxiousness, she admits.
“My first year I was nervous,” she said. “But, [my teammates and coaches] pushed me to be better as a player.”
And over her career, SJC’s head coach Watts — who took over the team Iavarone’s sophomore year — witnessed her blossom into an elite talent.
“I’ve coached for 33 years on every level, and coached players who are in the WNBA,” said Watts. “I feel as far as work ethic and heart, there is no one like her.”
That tremendous work ethic was on full display following her junior season.
After playing 17 games that year, she tore her ACL.
The serious knee injury — which can sideline an athlete for up to nine months or more — didn’t stop Iavarone.
Just three months later she was in the pools doing rehabilitation. Four months after that, she was back on the court — and playing her best basketball, too.
In Iavarone’s senior season, the gritty forward averaged 20.8 points per game and 16.8 rebounds a game — both career highs.
Although her team never captured a championship, Iavarone says she’s so grateful for all the opportunities she had and relationships she’s made along the way.
“Being a part of a team like that is one-in-a-million feeling,” said Iavarone.
Now, as she finishes up her degree in business this May, Iavarone has her eyes set on playing professional basketball.
“I am going to do everything in my power to get her to play [professionally] overseas,” said Watts.
“And I don’t think it is going to be a problem, I really don’t.”
Top: Andrea Iavarone in action for St. Joseph’s College women’s basketball team.
(Photo courtesy of the St. Joseph’s College sports information department)