Basketball players

Five Central Mass men’s basketball players. that will have an impact this season

The men’s basketball season is underway at Central Mass. Here are some players to watch out for.

Cam Boucher, Northbridge

Boucher entered the starting lineup as a rookie due to injury and solidified his place while setting the school’s single-season scoring record for ninth-graders as the Rams secured a 19-4 record. Since then, he has been the mainstay of the court.

“He’s a four-season varsity player and three-season captain, which is rare,” said coach Aaron Katz with appreciation.

A 5-foot-11 point guard, Boucher averaged 17.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a few steals during his shortened junior season, which ended with his selection to the Super Team. T&G.

So he can do anything, to bring the Rams, who are also returning some three-year-old starters to seniors Nik Hayes and Ryan Boyce, in their offense to extend and finish games to lock in the defense.

“He’s just a serious player,” Katz said. “He’s a strong kid who isn’t afraid to come in and bounce back, protect the best players, protect the big players when needed. He has a really good basketball IQ so he can anticipate and I think that’s how he gets steals, rebounds and assists.

“He knows where people should be and what we’re doing. He has a very good understanding of what we’re trying to do. He’s definitely a leader in the field.

Boucher is a member of the National Honor Society, so he excels in the classroom as well as on the court, and is on track to score his 1,000th career point this winter.

FOLLOWING: Top Boys’ Home Team Basketball Scorers

Oakmont's Jaylen Kirkland scores over Fitchburg's Darnell Thomas in a game last season.

Jaylen Kirkland, Oakmont

Kirkland experienced a strong growth spurt early in his sophomore year, then took a huge leap forward as a junior. Now the Spartans see big things in store for the 6-foot-4 keeper – yes, the keeper – as a senior.

“In my opinion, he looks like a college type player with his size and the way he can reach the edge and play over the edge,” said coach Danny Ortiz. “He moves quite well, has a certain speed for him. He just understands the game and has been around it all his life, so he has a very high basketball IQ.

Basketball is definitely a popular topic of conversation in the Kirkland family, as Jaylen’s father Chris captained UMass as a senior before graduating from the state’s flagship university. in 2000.

Kirkland, who will team up with senior Brandon Hulecki to form one of Central Mass’s most talented fullbacks, averaged 13 points in eight games last season, up from 8.0 the year before. His production reveals a player who can operate behind the arc as well as inside the lane as he has drained 10 3-point shots and made 16 free throws.

“He’s very good at shooting the 3,” Ortiz said, “but he can get up, he can reach for the basket, he can play back to the basket. And he can defend; he’s long. He’s a student of the game. and has all the tools, gets to work Just a great teammate.

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Kyle Monahan of Maynard.

Kyle Monahan, Maynard

Paul Howes has been hearing the same question from his fellow coaches for some time now when it comes to Monahan.

“Most of the coaches here say, ‘My God, when is he going? “Howes said with a laugh.

And the answer, finally, is music to the ears of the opposition as this will be Monahan’s fifth and final season for the Tigers, who will enjoy every moment that the 6-foot, 170-pound goalie is on the field.

“He’s one of those basketball junkies if that’s appropriate,” Howe said. “He really, really lives and dies for basketball, so we’re lucky to have someone like him. And he’s really looking forward to this year.

Monahan, who has only missed one game since entering the starting lineup as a rookie, averaged 20.9 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists last season while being selected for the Super Team. T&G.

He is within 200 points of reaching 1,000, much to the delight of his biggest fan, his grandfather, Jimmy Monahan, who was Captain of the Assumption as a senior in 1965.

“Kyle is very capable of shooting and reaching the 3 point line, he’s really, really well balanced where he’s neither,” Howe said of Monahan, who sparked the interest of people like Worcester State, Wentworth and WPI.

“If you play against him he’s going to hurt you, but if you get up he’s really good at finding his way to the basket. And then, like I said, he figured out how to use his swivel feet once inside. A series of fake balls, he’s going to sort of outsmart this defender.

North High's Oscar Pizarro has adapted for Clifford and Rano in the Kingsway Boys' Summer Basketball League in the offseason.

Oscar Pizarro, North

After a year of citywide gyms shutting down due to the pandemic, basketball is back in Worcester.

And so does Pizarro, who returns for a senior season full of promise both individually and collectively for the talented polar bears.

“Of course losing this junior year kind of hurt him because I thought he would have been pretty good,” longtime bench boss Al Pettway said.

Indeed, as it would have allowed Pizarro, who averaged 12.1 points in second year, to place 21st overall and third among the subclasses of Central Mass. Division 1, another year to develop its game.

As it stands, opposing defenses are wary of Pizarro, a 5-foot-8 guard with a skillful grip and soft kick who scored eight points and orchestrated the offense in an opening victory of the season against Tantasqua Regional.

“He’s a crafty guard,” Pettway said. “He can shoot it. It will go all the way to the edge, and it will shoot if you leave it open. He basically takes what the defense gives him.

“And he’s deceptively fast. He scares you because you think he’s slow, but he’s pretty fast. A good shooter, a good passer, just a good playmaker overall.

Pettway, whose roster also includes the dynamic duo of 6-6 second-year forward Joe Okla and 6-foot first-year goaltender Ty Tabales, also look to Pizarro for his day-to-day leadership.

“He’s one of our leaders,” Pettway said. “All the children admire him. He’s not a very vocal guy, but there will be some stuff left. Children, they respect him.

Doherty's Josh Valentin looks to get around Wachusett's Nick Ciccone in Thursday's game.

Josh Valentin, Doherty

The presence of the versatile Valentin ensures that the backcourt will be at the forefront of the Highlanders’ offense this season.

The 6-foot junior, who undoubtedly would have made college as an underclass last season before he was wiped out in the pandemic, has set up as a shooting guard despite having the ability to play the role.

“Josh Valentin is one of those combo keepers, (although) I think he feels more comfortable playing with the ball because he’s more of a goalscorer,” coach Jermaine Chavis said. . “As you saw (in the first game) he shoots the 3-point shot really well, he’s able to hit the hoop and finish around the rim with the best of them.”

Valentin led the Highlanders with 12 points, draining 3 of 9 and shooting a foul over the arc in a defensive-dominated backhand in the opening season against Wachusett Regional.

“He’s very athletic… so we expect him to be one of our top scorers this year,” Chavis said before bringing the conversation to the other end of the field.

“He’s a good defensive player. When he gives himself 100 percent, he can pretty much lock in on the defensive end. “

Valentin is part of a strong squad that includes senior Zach Taylor, who manages the point, and physical forwards Kofi Asare, Messiah Attakorah, Nazir Jones and Myzel Vilbrun. So when it comes to leading he does it more with his game because of all these veterans being there.

“He more or less lays down and lets the seniors talk, and he just goes in there and performs,” Chavis said.

Contact Rich Garven at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.