What a Day! EJ receives numerous honors
The conclusion of this year’s men’s basketball season coincided with the end of fifth-year guard EJ Day’s legendary Laser career. He led the nation in scoring for Division III with 25.8 points per game in his final year, and accrued an extensive list of awards and honors; All-Great Northeastern Athletic Conference (GNAC) First Team, GNAC Player of the Year, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division III All-Region First Team for District I, NABC All-America Third Team, finalist for the national Jostens Trophy Award.
“It’s been an honor to coach EJ. He deserves all the recognition he has received,” said head coach Aaron Galetta, who was also an NABC All-American and Jostens finalist when he played at Union College in 2002. “The Jostens Trophy recognizes basketball ability, academics and community service, so for him to be a finalist is something to be really proud of. That award is the true definition of what it means to be a student-athlete.”
Academically, Day finishes his undergraduate, and graduate degree in criminal justice with a 3.3 cumulative GPA, which juxtaposes his beginnings with the program. Galetta said the Lasers recruited Day out of high school. “We loved his game and thought he could help us right away. Unfortunately, and I can tell this story now, he wasn’t accepted to Lasell out of high school.”
Instead, Day played his first collegiate season at Western New England University (WNEU), where he said the program wasn't for him. “There's nothing I could have done or could do about it,” Day said. “It was more so like a system like you're more of a second option third option and I knew I was a better player than that so I just really didn't want to settle for that.”
Galetta said after his freshman season, Day reached back out and was interested in transferring.
“[The WNEU coach] let me go,” said Day, “he woke me up and showed me… what a situation can't be and how a player has to be in the right situation to achieve things and prosper… Once I was free, I just flew. And I think I flew a lot farther than people were expecting. I think I did a lot more than people thought I was going to do.”
Making an immediate impact on the floor upon arrival, Day averaged 25.1 points in his sophomore season. As an underclassman, there were three older players on the roster that Day said helped mentor him— Kevin Nunez (‘22), Kevin Vanderhorst (‘22), and John Friberg (‘22).
“They had the experience, they were a lot more mature than I was… that's really like my biggest growth period was playing with those three guys, on the court and off the court like in life and basketball, they just really taught me a lot to help me grow in life, and then to be the leader,” Day said.
After that year, he didn’t slow down, averaging over 20 points per game each season as a Laser, excluding the 2020-21 pandemic year when the team played just two games.
Galetta said Day is one of the most competitive players he’s ever coached and has “evolved over his career from being a player just looking to score, to someone doing whatever it took to win games.”
This year in particular, according to Galetta, Day stepped up as a leader and elevated his teammates.
While he credited his upperclassmen influences and dedication from coaches for much of his success, Day made sure to also acknowledge his younger teammates for their character and contributions, especially Conan McCusker and Quinton Partee Jr., who played significant minutes for the Lasers all year. “I wouldn't have been able to score 26 points [per game] if it wasn't for them. Because I needed them just as much as they needed me,” said Day.
With Day’s departure, the torch is being passed to returning veteran guard Demerrick Warren. “I'm looking forward to seeing him lead and what he took from me and then what he brings to the guys next year,” said Day.
“I think he always wanted to come here, and I knew EJ would thrive in a community like Lasell,” said Galetta. “I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of really good players here at Lasell and EJ is definitely on that list. He was a special player for us and we always had a chance to win with EJ on the floor. I look forward to continuing our relationship after graduation and following his future successes.”