As summer homework goes, Saint Mary's College guard Matthew Dellavedova had quite the test to pass this offseason.
Consider it aced.
Fresh off a sophomore season that saw Dellavedova earn All-West Coast Conference honors, the native of Maryborough, Victoria, Australia, returned home to try out for the Boomers, Australia's national team.
Not only did he make the team, he played an integral role.
Dellavedova came back to Moraga as the backcourt leader of a Saint Mary's team that faces its biggest early season test Monday night at 11 against Northern Iowa. The game is part of ESPN's 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon.
And, he takes the court with quite a bit of new experience under his belt. Serving as former Saint Mary's standout Patty Mills' backup, Dellavedova helped the Aussies play well in China, London, Spain and then go on to sweep a three-game series against New Zealand to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
"He's already confident, but he's playing against men. He comes back and his confidence is at a high level," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "Omar (Samhan) kind of did that; he played against a lot of pros the summer before his junior year and senior year and it helped him a lot, playing against NBA guys all the time. Matt did it in a very competitive environment and had success."
This wasn't just any international sojourn. The trip to London included a game against a France team led by San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker. Then, it was off to Spain for two games against a Spanish national team that included established NBA players such as Pau and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
"We went in the day before to practice and I was just sort of peeking through when they were practicing," Dellavedova said of the trip to Spain. "Seeing the Gasols and Ibaka and those kinds of guys, you kind of pinch yourself a little bit. The next night, you're just focused on what you need to do to beat them. It was a really good experience."
Summer success aside, Dellavedova returned to Moraga to prepare for this season as still a bit of an unknown on the national level.
Near the end of the summer, he started popping up on national watch lists and on lists of the top guards in the country. But, he did not make the Wooden Award preseason top 50, and in some respects, relative anonymity might still be a reality.
That first chance comes Monday against a Northern Iowa team that had its breakthrough season at the same time as the Gaels when both reached the Sweet 16 in 2010. After Saint Mary's easy 98-58 win in Friday's opener against Fresno Pacific, Dellavedova, Bennett and the rest of the Gaels know a season with something to prove starts tonight.
"In my opinion he does (get overlooked), but I don't care. He doesn't care," Bennett said. "We'll find out between the lines. We'll get a chance to prove it and he'll get a chance to prove it."
Northern Iowa (1-0) at Saint Mary's (1-0), 11 p.m.