Stafford In Holding Pattern

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Nick Stafford hasn't missed a class in three years at Worcester Academy. Not one. So Hilltoppers coach Mo Cassara knows the kid is diligent and conscientious about his class work.

On the court, though, the 6-8 PF often seems passive. He's a well-intentioned, soft-spoken kid, but sometimes he appears to lack a certain killer instinct.

"He's just got to want it," Cassara said Tuesday afternoon in his office. "Because he's going to play this year."

And this is his last year -- his last chance -- to impress the college coaches that come through this Central Massachusetts city looking for talent.

UMass, Rhode Island, Maine and Central Connecticut State have come to watch him this fall. LaSalle, Boston University and Hartford are still keeping tabs, too.

"Right now I'm not really thinking about it," Stafford said when asked about his recruitment. "I'll wait probably until the end of the season. I'm just thinking about having fun playing basketball. I've got to be a leader this year."

Last year, on a 27-4 team that featured six Division I-bound seniors, Stafford was something of a role player. But not this time around.

"Me and Stevie (Hailey) and Sam (Kaplan), we're trying to take this team to the next level," he added. "Last year I was trying to play a position. This year I just want to be a player."

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