There's been a lot of talk about the Pelham High boys basketball team this season, and for good reason. They finished the regular season a perfect 18-0 and head into the state tournament as the hands down favorites to win the Division III title. Senior Ryan Cloutier has been a large part of their success, and he has recently made a commitment to continue his career at Salem State University. Salem State is a Division III program which competes in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC).
"The recruiting process was unfamiliar to me, but I became aware through Rick Gorman of the New England Storm AAU and Coach Regan that certain colleges were interested in me" Cloutier told the NH Notebook. "Salem State was one of the first to come and watch me play and they talked with me and really seemed interested. They attended several of my games, speaking with my parents, and really sharing their interest in me. Some of the other schools that I was considering were UNE, Nichols, Colby-Sawyer, Plymouth State, Bridgewater and Anna-Maria. I simply felt that Salem State was the best fit for me and they made me feel very comfortable. I like the coaches and I felt that it was a place where I could excel both in basketball and academically."
Cloutier is having an excellent senior season for the Pythons. He's a versatile 6-foot-5 wing forward with the ability to shoot the basketball from the outside using a high release or attack off the dribble. With his height and leaping ability Cloutier is a high flyer who can elevate above the rim for rebounds, blocked shots and dunks.
"I see myself as being a wing-man and being able to get up and down the court quickly and their system is my style of basketball" said Cloutier, who should be a first team all-state selection this season, as should his teammate Keith Brown. "I believe that I still have a great deal to learn and that the coaching staff at Salem State will be able to help me improve in all aspects of my game. I think that the Salem State coaches are very aware of what they were looking for in a player and I believe that my style, with the help of their coaching, will translate nicely into their game."
Cloutier has been a strong player while coming up through the ranks in Pelham, but it wasn't until the past couple years when he has emerged as one of the state's top players and a prospect to play at the next level. He is a late bloomer who has worked hard to get his game to where it is today.
"I feel that over the years that my game play has definitely improved with the help of my continuous play with The New England Storm (AAU)" said Cloutier, who plans who plans on studying Sports & Movement Science at Salem State. "Playing teams from all over New England and NY certainly brings in a different style of basketball with each game. Some of the teams that we faced were bigger, faster and in sync with each other more. It made you want to play harder and more aggressive. I think my size today is certainly a bonus and makes me more of a threat on the court. I wasn't always the 'big guy' when I first started playing. I believe that Coach Regan and my team has helped me develop my game to the next level. We work hard together and it helps me want to improve. Attempting the "dunks" certainly has helped my game. The crowd really goes crazy when I do it, and it sometimes stuns the other team!
The decision to commit to Salem State is definitely not one Cloutier took lightly. Now that he's made it he can focus even more on helping Pelham win a state championship.
"Playing on the Pythons in Pelham has been a great experience" Cloutier concluded. "We don't have just one guy that can make the shots or plays. We all do our part together, and step up where it's needed. We also have a great support system with our coaches (Regan and Larson), parents and fans as well. With the Pythons being undefeated right now, if we continue to play as we have been (as a team), I think we have a great chance of bringing the title home to Pelham this year."