Feature photo courtesy of Raul Fonts. Andrew Fonts (left) and teammate Seamus Oconnor (right) pose for a photo on the court.
After last year’s basketball season ended, Andrew Fonts’ teammates elected the guard to be a captain. In the time that has passed since that election, Fonts has worked hard to fully embrace that title.
Fonts, now a junior, is a third-year player for Portsmouth Abbey School, a boarding school located in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Fonts’ mother works at the school, so Fonts, a “faculty child,” has lived there for six years. “The Abbey,” as Fonts calls it, has helped shaped the 6-foot-1-inch athlete into the player he is today, but Fonts put in a lot of his own effort as well.
Between seventh and ninth grade, Fonts grew eight inches, eventually reaching his current height. Just as he was experiencing that growth spurt, he began to change other aspects of his game. While Fonts remembers his middle school self mainly as a passer who came off the bench, he worked to completely redefine his role by the time he made it to high school.
The summer before ninth grade, Fonts remembers Portsmouth Abbey coach Clarence Chenoweth telling him he needed to step up his game. “We need a scorer, and you’re going to be that,” Fonts said his coach told him. Fonts took the message to heart. “That was the hardest summer I’ve ever worked,” he said. “I was in the gym getting jump shots up every day.”
After coming off the bench the first two games of his freshman season, Fonts started every game. Though that first season was not overly successful – “it was definitely a transition year” – his sophomore campaign saw a much different outcome. The team finished 10-10 overall, an accomplishment Fonts said was “huge for our school and our program.” He hopes for the same type of season this year, and has taken it upon himself to try to make it happen. “Once I got voted as junior captain at the end of last season, [the] next day I was in the gym,” he said. “I try getting to the gym every day. The gym is a five minute walk so there’s no excuse not to be in the gym.”
Working with Chenoweth, Portsmouth basketball alumnus Brian Doyle, and Dan Weidmann, a trainer and assistant coach at Roger Williams University, the summer before this season, Fonts aimed to improve his shooting. Though he used to run the point, Fonts says he is gaining confidence and becoming more of a shooting guard. “Freshman and sophomore year, I was averaging like 10 [points] a game,” he said. “Last summer I had a big summer [with AAU team Middlesex Magic], and now I’m up to like 20 [or] 23 a game to start this season.”
Fonts compares his game to that of the NBA’s Russell Westbrook, citing the guard’s shooting ability and explosiveness in getting to the basket as similarities. Fonts continues to work on his shooting, with some help from his father. “To get to the next level you’ve got to be able to score the ball,” Fonts said his dad told him. “Your defense is great, your passing is great, your dribbling is great. You need to score.”
Fonts credits his dad with being his biggest motivation, noting “he’s always got my back.” The elder Fonts works as the dean of admission and financial aid at Providence College, a position that has inspired the younger Fonts from a basketball standpoint. “Growing up, always going to PC games, watching the Friars play, that’s always been the dream to go play at PC,” he said.
Fonts has not received any Division I offers, but he is interested in Division III schools, specifically those in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). “The key thing here is academics,” he said in regards to what he is considering in a college. “My parents both work at schools, so academics have always been a big thing in my life.” He hopes a breakout season this year will pique the interest of some of those NESCAC schools.
His team’s record currently stands at 2-4, and while Fonts said the first six games of the season have been great, he acknowledged that there is also room for improvement.
“A big emphasis [for the team] is scoring the ball,” he said. “My school has a bunch of athletes, but kind of our hardest thing to do is actually just score the ball…we’re just trying to be, overall, a better offensive team because on the defensive side we’re pretty solid.”
In terms of his own game, the situation is reversed. “My defense needs to get better,” he said. “As an athlete overall, if you want to get to the next level, it starts on defense and then scoring comes later.”
On top of bettering his own game, Fonts also works with the school’s jayvee team. Knowing that the varsity squad will soon lose several seniors to graduation, he aims to improve younger players’ games as much as he can. Jayvee athletes, he said, “need to realize the game is just a lot faster [on varsity], and you need to be able to think and make one move [to] get to the basket. You have to know what you’re doing.”
“I try to just give them confidence with their game,” he continued. “Let them play up with the seniors and the juniors and get their confidence going. If they can do it with us, they can do it in the jayvee level and just kill it.” Fonts said the leadership he needs when working with the jayvee team and the responsibilities he has as a junior captain both contribute to his approach to the game. Using these characteristics, he aims to lead his team to another successful season.