The Layman name is one that has been intertwined in the athletic history of the Lowcountry for the past three decades, and Hilton Head Prep senior Matt Layman has done his part to ensure that trend continued for another generation.
As a three-sport star at Prep, Layman put up prolific passing numbers as the Dolphins' quarterback, he leads Prep's basketball team in scoring with 17.7 points per game, and he's a standout shortstop and pitcher on the baseball team.
In short, the Lowcountry sports fan needs no introduction to Matt Layman.
Layman took a few minutes to talk to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette about helping his coach and godfather secure a career milestone this week, the Dolphins' prospects of playing deep into the SCISAA playoffs, and his future in sports beyond high school.
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Question: As we speak, it's been less than 24 hours since you guys beat rival Hilton Head Christian Academy -- and delivered coach Rich Basirico's 500th career victory in the process. Have you come down off that high yet?
Answer: Not really. It was very exciting for us to finally get his 500th win for him. He says all the time that he never plays, he's never stepped on the court, he hasn't actually won one of those games, but he's a part of every single one of those victories. He's done more than prepare us for every game. He's such an inspiration to all of us. You don't know until you have him (as a coach) how inspirational he is in your life. I'm at a loss for words to say how instrumental he is in all our lives, and he is for all his players.
Q. Coach Basirico is your godfather, your dad was part of his first win back at May River Academy, and your cousin and uncle also played for him, so the Layman roots run deep in his program. What does it mean to you to have been part of this milestone?
A. My dad was part of his first win, my uncle was part of his 200th win, (my cousin) Trey was part of his 300th win, and I was part of his 500th win, so it's very meaningful to my family. I've been around a lot of alumni, and they're all close because of him. They're all best friends. Coach teaches that to us every day in the locker room -- your teammates will be your best friends forever; cherish it.
Q. After a few years of Porter-Gaud and Pinewood Prep dominating SCISAA Class 3-A basketball, things have opened up a little the past two years. In fact, Porter-Gaud is ranked No. 1 in the state right now, and you guys had a seven-point halftime lead against them Friday before losing. How do you like your chances of going deep into the playoffs and maybe competing for a state championship?
A. In the past year, it's kind of weird to say that we beat Porter-Gaud twice last year, and we beat Pinewood on their home court last year, probably one of the only teams in SCISAA to do that in the past couple years.
Playing Porter-Gaud and realizing they're No. 1 in our region and knowing we should've won that game, it's really a boost for us. We were up by seven at half, we only scored six points in the third quarter, and in the second half we just played really bad basketball. But playing hard kept us in the game, so we're really excited about our chances to make it far in the playoffs and maybe win a state championship.
Q. You're also the quarterback of the football team, and you guys had a great season, especially on offense. How are your college prospects looking, as far as football goes?
A. At first I was always looking at the bigger schools and always wanted to play major (NCAA Division I), going to Clemson and stuff like that. This process has made me realize ... I go to a private school on Hilton Head Island, so it's an eye-opener for you.
I go to Pittsburgh this Saturday, going up to Robert Morris -- my dad's home, his side of the family -- so it will be neat to go on an official visit to Robert Morris, and the Steelers play at home. It's going to be freezing up north; not really used to that, but we'll see how it goes. Davidson College is still in it, and if I go to Davidson, hopefully I'll be playing football and baseball.
I have been offered a bunch of walk-on positions at Furman, Coastal Carolina, Liberty and Presbyterian. ... And then a bunch of (NCAA Division II) schools and stuff, so I'm not counting out any of my options.
Q. If it comes down to a decision of playing football at a lower level, or going to a bigger school and just being a student, do you know where you stand on that right now?
A. In the past, I've always said DI or I'm not doing anything. But I've realized that I love sports; sports is my thing; sports is my family's thing. I can't imagine myself not playing college sports, so I'm going to try and pursue my dream somewhere at the next level playing sports, whether it's football or baseball.
Q. You're one of kind of a dying breed in that you've played three sports -- football, basketball and baseball -- throughout your high school career. Do you ever wonder how things might have worked out if you had elected to specialize in one of the sports year-round?
A. Yeah, I always think about that, but to be honest, I couldn't have picked one sport to stay with. I've talked to a bunch of college coaches, and most of them say to play them all. If I had focused on one, it would've taken away most of my high school career, so I'm very glad with my choice of playing all three.