WALLINGFORD — Jack McDonnell went with his parents Heather and Patrick to visit Suffolk University earlier this month, not necessarily ready to make up his mind.
Yet the Sheehan senior was so impressed with the Boston school, he told his parents that's where he wanted to spend his next four years.
He won’t just be studying at Suffolk. He’ll be playing Division III basketball.
McDonnell has been a star player for the Titans throughout his high school tenure. He amassed 905 points in his first three years and will enter his senior season, should it come to pass, as a second-year captain.
“It’s a huge honor,” McDonnell said of playing college basketball. “It’s a dream come true. The school is in the heart of Boston. Best I could ask for. Basketball and academically, it couldn't be a better fit. It’s an honor and a dream come true.”
McDonnell averaged 15.3 points as a junior and eclipsed 20 points on six occasions. The 6-foot-2 forward was a catalyst at the both ends of the floor, supplementing his scoring with a a team-high 7.1 rebounds a game. He was also good for three assists and steals a game.
With a full final season, McDonnell would have had a shot at Sheehan’s all-time scoring list. The 2020-21 season, however, has been cut to 15 games maximum due to a delayed start forced by the pandemic.
“I think it’s a great choice for Jack,” Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano said. “The school has the major he wants and, basketball-wise, its a great fit. He’s a great player and a quality person. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve coached.
“He’s a gym rat,” Gaetano added. “Him playing in college is a no brainer. He’s an asset to any program as a player and as a person.”
McDonnell will study political science and plans on becoming a lawyer.
The senior is optimistic basketball will be played this winter. At this point, the CIAC has pushed the start date back to January 19, at the earliest.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better three years so far,” McDonnell said. “I hope to finish it off this year and score my 1,000th point. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to play with the last three years. My teammates and coaches have always pushed me to be the best I could be. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
McDonnell played on his AAU team this fall after spending much of the spring and summer playing at a neighborhood park. He and the Titans had just advanced to the second round of the Class M state tournament when last winter’s postseason was cancelled by the CIAC.
In suiting up for the Titans, McDonnell has been carrying on a family legacy. His grandfather William Fritz and mother Heather are both in the Sheehan Hall of Fame.
“My grandfather always talked about how much he loved Sheehan,” McDonnell said. “I was his first grandson to go to Sheehan and I know that meant a lot to him.
“My mom was an athlete for all seasons and always reminds me that she was the only one in the family to score a touchdown. She scored one in Powerpuff to beat Lyman Hall. I want to carry on the family legacy. It’s very important to me.”
McDonnell said he’s a more mature player as a senior.
“I’ve taken my game to a different level mentally,” McDonnell said. “Physically, I’m always getting better. I need to be a leader this year and not lose my cool. I’m more focused and more driven than I was last season.”
McDonnell also plays trumpet and is the drum major for the Sheehan High School band. Last year, he led the band in the National Anthem in his basketball uniform prior to the start of a game.
As a leader in the music room and the basketball court, Gaetano said McDonnell will be a success on or off the basketball court.
“He’s all about winning,” Gaetano said. “He’s such a quality individual and he doesn’t care about points and rebounds, although most nights he gets a double-double every night. He’s just a hard-nosed competitor.”