Feature photo courtesy of Michelle Fyrer.
Monday through Friday of each week, Chad DiCenzo commutes 45 minutes from his home in Andover, Massachusetts to Pingree School, the day school he attends in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. It’s at this school that the junior, slated to graduate in 2017, has played varsity basketball since his freshman year. In the years that have passed since that freshman year, DiCenzo has changed numerous aspects of his life, both on and off the court, with the goal of playing college basketball. While he hasn’t received any offers yet, the 5-foot-11-inch point guard hopes to play at “a high academic school that also competes at a high level for basketball.”
To get there, though, DiCenzo acknowledges that he will have to invest time into improving his game, even if he might not get immediate praise for doing so. He says his best skill is acting as a true point guard, which involves the duties of “being a play-maker, setting my teammates up, just getting the whole team involved.” For inspiration, he looks to Talor Battle, a 6-foot guard who played for Penn State from 2007 until 2011. “He’s not the fastest guard or the tallest, but he really teaches how to choose speed well and use your body well,” DiCenzo said of Battle.
DiCenzo’s trainer, Trey Morin, was the one who told him to watch Battle’s highlights. Morin, himself a former player at Salem State University, has been working with DiCenzo since DiCenzo’s freshman year.
“I would credit a lot of my basketball stuff to him,” DiCenzo said. “He especially likes working with point guards, so this summer I worked out with him all the time.”
One particular feature of DiCenzo’s game that he and Morin have worked to improve is the pick-and-roll. DiCenzo said the way Morin teaches the pick-and-roll, highlighting all of the different offensive options that the play could produce, has taken his game to a new level.
“He’s really good at teaching me that,” he said. “I would say that used to be some sort of like a weakness when I was a freshman in high school because I was a lot smaller, but, now [that] I’ve been working with him with that, I’d say it’s definitely a strength of mine.”
He has been rounding out his offensive abilities by practicing his shooting from deep.
“I’ve definitely been trying to improve my three point [shooting],” he said, “which I think I have, because this weekend [in a game for his AAU team, the Middlesex Magic] I was hitting a lot of threes.”
In addition to working with Morin to enhance his game, DiCenzo has taken steps away from the court to try to gain a leg-up on the competition. Before his sophomore season, he changed up his diet, a decision that came alongside a two-inch growth spurt up to his current height, and what he described as a gain of “20 pounds of muscle.”
“I tried to eat a lot more protein and definitely cut down on junk food and fast food and just eat a lot more vegetables and fruit to stay healthy,” he said. “My sister is a nutritionist and she really helped me.”
Another edge that DiCenzo values is his left-hand dominance. He admitted that there are sometimes advantages to being a lefty, especially early on in games.
“Most defenders are usually used to guarding a righty and playing them more towards the left side,” he explained. “At the beginning of the games, usually people don’t know I’m a lefty so it’s a little easier to go by someone.”
The last two seasons at Pingree proved to be good learning experiences for DiCenzo, as both years his team fell to Connecticut’s Green Farms Academy in the semifinals of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class C championships. This year, he is planning a different ending to the postseason.
“My goal is definitely to win the [NEPSAC] championship,” he said. “Every year we’ve come up short, but I think that we could’ve won it. This year, we have a lot of seniors on the team and I just really want to send them off with a [NEPSAC] championship.”
He knows that, to achieve this dream, he’ll have to put forth all of the advantages he has worked to obtain. For DiCenzo, it’s all about “working on your own and working when no one’s watching.”