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How Dorchester’s Rivaldo Soares made it from O’Bryant to the highest levels of college basketball

O'Bryant grad Rivaldo Soares was the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2020-21.
O'Bryant grad Rivaldo Soares was the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2020-21.Wes Underwood

It was worth the wait for Rivaldo Soares.

The 6-foot-6-inch basketball star from Dorchester began his varsity career as an eighth-grader at O’Bryant, and after graduating in 2019 as one of the first 1,000-point scorers in program history, he continued his journey at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas.

In two years at the community college, Soares averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while leading the program to a 40-11 record. After a shortened 2020-21 season, Soares earned first-team Junior College All-American honors and received the most votes of any player for the first team in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.


Perhaps most importantly, his academics improved to the point where several Division 1 programs from major NCAA conferences came knocking, and on Monday Soares announced his decision to play for Oregon, which has won consecutive Pac-12 regular-season titles and reached the Sweet 16 this past season.

“Over the past few years my dream was to play D1 at a high major,” Soares said in a telephone interview Friday night. “This is one of the biggest reliefs. The whole process has been surreal and I can’t say it was anything other than a grind.”

O’Bryant coach Drew Brock said he got emotional when he heard the news, although it was expected Soares would choose a top program after he announced his final six candidates: Florida, St. John’s, DePaul, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, and Oregon.

For Brock, seeing Soares reach the highest level of college basketball is validation for a talented and versatile player who stuck with O’Bryant for five years and rarely worried about his recruitment status.

“When I found out I got teary-eyed because I love [Soares] like he’s my own kid,” said Brock. “It’s rare for any high school coach to be able to coach a kid for five years. We built a very strong bond and relationship.


“Some inner-city kids deal with more than others, and he didn’t always have an easy road. I’m just proud he stuck with it. A lot of kids could have given up, but he made the most out of his talent and showed everybody how good he is. Whenever I worried about a lack of publicity or recognition, he would just tell me, ‘Don’t worry, Coach, everyone is going to see when I sign with who I sign with.’ ”

When Soares got to South Plains, he made an immediate impression on 21-year coach Steve Green. A 6-6 wing who can rebound and defend like a forward but pass like a point guard, Soares helped the Texans start 17-0 this past season and finish atop the NJCAA national rankings.

“Rivaldo is the story of a guy who did everything you need him to do for the team and himself,” said Green, a three-time NJCAA Coach of the Year and national champion during his tenure. “He’s been the best player I’ve had on two really good teams, and a one of the better guards I’ve had here in 21 years. It’s a good lesson that if you’re coachable, with talent, you’ve got a great future.”

Soares said he had a lot of people to thank for helping him reach his goals, with Brock near the top of that list. His commitment to Oregon follows a connection between the Boston area and the Pac-12 power. Lawrence native L.J. Figueroa capped his college career at Oregon after playing at Odessa College (a rival of South Plains) and St. John’s, and former Ducks star Payton Pritchard was selected by the Celtics in last year’s draft.


Oregon coach Dana Altman said Soares is “a versatile player who will be able to play multiple positions and do a lot for us on both ends of the court.”

Rivaldo Soares was a first-team NJCAA All-American in his second season at South Plains College.
Rivaldo Soares was a first-team NJCAA All-American in his second season at South Plains College.Wes Underwood

In his announcement on social media, Soares dedicated his next season at Oregon to Terrence Clarke, the Boston-born star who died in a car accident in April while in Los Angeles preparing for the NBA Draft.

“Right now it feels like I have a city behind me,” said Soares, who played AAU with Clarke on the Expressions Elite 17U team. “To see a lot of people happy and acknowledging the work I put in, now I have that Boston pride. I want to carry that 617 around and be a figure that someone looks at it and thinks they can reach their goals, too.”

Taking note

▪ At the MIAA soccer committee meeting held virtually Tuesday, members opined that their preference is for no margin of victory be used for tournament rankings (power seedings) when the statewide tournament is implemented this fall. However, should the Tournament Management Committee require a number, a motion to use three goals was approved, 11-0-1.

On Monday, the association’s Board of Directors voted, 10-2, to have the TMC revisit the margin of victory in seeding after receiving a communication of concern from the Hockomock League.


The TMC is scheduled to meet Thursday morning, with postseason formats for track and field and wrestling on the agenda.

▪ The deadline for nominations for both 43rd Shriners All-Star Classic football game and the National Football Foundation’s scholar-athlete award is Saturday. Nomination forms can be found on the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association website, mhsfca.net.

▪ Lynn English stayed within the program to replace Antonio Anderson as boys’ basketball coach, hiring assistant Alvin Abreu, a Lynn Classical Hall of Famer who was a four-year player at the University of New Hampshire before playing professionally in Europe. Anderson, who directed the Bulldogs to a pair of Division 1 state titles, accepted a position at Springfield Commonwealth Academy. Earlier in the week, another English assistant, Corey Bingham, was named head coach at Lynn Tech.

Craig Larson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.