OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. – After earning a degree in interdisciplinary studies last May, Jon Feiler strongly weighed heading to Italy to play professional basketball.
Instead, with an extra year of eligibility and some convincing from NYIT's incoming head coach Kevin Hamilton, Feiler ultimately chose to remain with the men's basketball team for an additional season while pursuing graduate-level communications coursework.
He has no regrets about his decision.
"I think it was a really good choice," said Feiler, who will be honored along with teammates Henrik Davidsen, Leonard James and Onyekachi Nzerem in a ceremony before Saturday's 3 p.m. Senior Day home finale against Roberts Wesleyan. "Hopefully we finish with a win."
Four games into his would-be final year, Feiler suffered a torn ACL against Concordia on Nov. 21, 2015, when he caught a pass at the three-point line, took a couple of dribbles in, jump-stopped and his right knee "buckled and gave out."
After rehabbing the injury, Feiler had strong summer showcases in Italy and intended to play abroad. However, the medical redshirt afforded Feiler an extra season of college eligibility. And when Hamilton was hired in July, he convinced Feiler an additional season with the Bears would be advantageous.
"We had a strong conversation," Feiler said. "I took some time to think about it. Coach has got a lot of connections. It was a good situation to come back. I went to Italy for a showcase over the summer and did well, and I had a couple of offers. And I was considering going. And then I came and met with Coach Hamilton and we got to talking and decided it would be better for me to come back this year and get my leg stronger and get back in the gym and get used to the swing of things again."
To say Feiler benefited from the additional college season would be an understatement. He leads Division II men's basketball in rebounds per game with 14.6 – pulling down nearly two more per game than any other student-athlete in the nation at that level. He also is averaging 20 points per game.
Hamilton has placed more than 45 players internationally, including Boston College's Uka Agbai, Southern New Hampshire's Miguel Gonzalez, and oldest son Kevin Hamilton Jr., who played at Holy Cross.
Hamilton sees Feiler following a similar path.
"I have experience in placing people internationally and getting them those types of opportunities. And Jon falls very well into that category," he said. The biggest news is that he came back to increase his opportunities to play professionally next year. There's no question in my mind he is a Division II All-American, who is going to have an opportunity. He's very committed, very dedicated.
"What he's done for this program this year to help us has just really been a story in itself."