How much can one high school basketball player improve over the course of one summer? Well, just ask Tom Nason. Nason didn't even make honorable mention this past winter in Division IV, and his Nute varsity team missed the D-IV playoffs. Yet after spending the summer working out with Noah LaRoche and the rest of the Integrity Hoops staff, he is now one of New Hampshire's highest rated prospects.
"Tom showed some of the most improvement in an 8 week span that I have ever seen" said Laroche, an Exeter native who has trained NBA, college and high school players over the years. "The credit goes to Tom and his dedication this summer."
Now that he has taken his game to a new level, Nason is headed to prep school. The 6'10" big man is officially transferring from Nute High School to Berwick Academy, a prep school located in South Berwick, Maine. He is reclassifying to the Class of 2013.
Nason is from Milton, NH. He had a breakout performance at the Integrity Hoops College Showcase just a few weeks ago. He moves well for a kid his size, has improved footwork and post moves and a soft shooting touch around the basket. Nason possesses a devastating running hook shot, which he not only makes most of the time but with his size he can get the shot off over virtually any defender. He can block shots and also step out and hit the mid-range jumper.
Like all players, the decision to go to from the NHIAA to prep school wasn't an easy one. But for Nason, it's a decision that made a lot of sense.
"I chose to reclassify so that I would have two more years to improve my game" explained Nason. "After working with Noah I realized that I had not been pushing myself to be the best that I can be. He helped me realize my potential and I'm fully committed to reaching it. I feel as though Berwick will help me improve myself as a person and reach my dream of playing college basketball at a high level."
In addition to the basketball aspect, academics also played a factor in Nason's decision.
"One of the biggest reasons for me going prep is because I don't know what I want to do for a career in the future" Nason went on. "So I'm hoping that it will challenge me and maybe help me figure out what I'd like to do. Not only is Berwick only about 30 minutes from my house, but it's an amazing school and I'm glad to be a part of it."
To say Nason was a 'project' player when the summer began would be an understatement.
"I had no clue who Tom was until the first day of our 8 week summer training program" said LaRoche, the owner of Integrity Hoops. "We were getting ready to start our first HS/College workout and Marcus O'Neil (Tilton School head basketball coach) and Simon McCormack (Senior Captain at American University) came over to me and were like ' who the heck is the 6'10" kid?' That's when I looked over and saw Tom. I'm not going to lie, after the first day I wasn't sure he would come back."
From that point on however, Nason just kept coming and coming to LaRoche's workouts. Yes, it helps to be 6'10", but you still need to put in the work to become a skilled, coordinated basketball player. And that's exactly what Nason did.
"From day one Tom worked his butt off" LaRoche continued. "Our program allowed a player to skill train Monday - Saturday if they wanted and strength train 4 times a week. Tom only missed one workout in 8 weeks, and that was on a day he went to visit a prep school in Massachusetts. Our theme to all of our players this summer was 'just show up' and 'just listen and trust our staff'. He consistently did both."
Nason goes from playing in the NHIAA's Division IV to the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC), which is the most competitive prep school conference in the country. At Berwick Academy, he will team up with 5'11" guard Harry Rafferty (Durham, NH), a sharpshooter who has already scored 1,000 points in his career.
"There's also some credit that is due to our other players in the program" said LaRoche. "Harry Rafferty, Kamahl Walker (Portsmouth HS) and Matt Barr (Exeter HS) were side by side working every day which helped motivate Tom and keep him pushing through on a daily basis."
Although Nason credits Coach LaRoche with helping him get to the next level, the whole Integrity Hoops staff deserves credit for the way Nason's game has developed this summer.
"Marcus O'Neil worked with us this summer and he really helped Tom get to the next level. Marcus works with top players in the country every year and he knows how to develop big guys. Alex Orhiaki, Georges Niang, Nerlens Noel and Goodluck Okonoboh have all developed into some of the premier big men in the country at their respective level and Marcus has his fingerprints all over it. Also, our strength coach John Travis did a great job helping Tom get bigger, stronger, and more explosive. Tom gained 8 pounds this summer and 5 inches on his vertical leap. Lastly, Georges Niang (committed to Iowa State) deserves a lot of the credit as well. He was here all summer when he wasn't traveling with BABC, and he kicked Tom's butt every day and made him a lot better."
Nason has improved so much this summer, and he is certainly a player to watch going forward. Now that the word is out about him you can expect his recruitment to really pick up now.
"Tom still has a long way to go, but the kid has the characteristics of someone who can maximize his potential" said LaRoche. "He loves the game, handles adversity well and is humble. Berwick really lucked out with him because he will not only help them contend in the NEPSAC Class C, but he's a great kid who will add a lot to the student body and the entire Berwick Academy community."
The summer is now over, the school year is officially here. Nute High's loss is Beriwck Academy's gain. And Tom Nason couldn't be happier.
"I can't wait to start school and get back on the basketball court with Noah" Nason concluded. "I'm going to make the best of this life changing opportunity that I've been given!"