Hardwood homecoming for former Skiers stars
They used to be basketball teammates at Aspen High. Now, four years later, their college squads may end up playing each other at a preseason Division III tournament in Massachusetts.What are the odds?”Pretty slim,” said Nick Farrell, a senior point guard at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, who still holds Aspen’s scoring record. “There’s only three kids – myself included – that I can remember who went on to play college basketball from Aspen.”One of the other two? That’s Moss Schermerhorn, who graduated a year behind Farrell and is now a reserve junior forward at Washington University in Saint Louis.This summer, before they headed back to school, Farrell and Schermerhorn learned of the possibility that their respective teams might meet up at this weekend at a four-team nonconference tournament at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.The catch? Colby and Washington are on opposite sides of the bracket. Both teams have to win or lose today to meet up tomorrow in either the championship or consolation game.On Wednesday, Farrell said he was trying not to get too far ahead of himself. The chance to play against Schermerhorn would make for some good memories – and some friendly bragging rights. But first, there’s the important opening game against host Babson, he said.Schermerhorn, whose parents live in Woody Creek, felt the same way. His team’s opening game is against Vassar College, located in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.”I’m really excited for the opportunity [to play Nick], if it does happen,” he said. “Nick was definitely the best player Aspen has ever had. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again.”Farrell, a four-year starter at point guard for Colby who averaged 12 points last season and was second in the New England Small College Athletic Conference in assists and steals, is the son of former Aspen Superintendent Tom Farrell.While at Aspen, Nick had aspirations of playing college basketball but then had second thoughts when he was lightly recruited.His father – who played college basketball on scholarship for Division I Maine – sent a tape of his son’s games to Colby’s coach, Richard Whitmore, who was an old friend. Farrell’s father wanted Whitmore to watch the tape to assess where his son might be able to play. Whitmore surprised both father and son when he suggested that Farrell should come run the point for him at Colby.”I really wanted to play in college when I was younger, then changed my mind for a bit during my senior year at Aspen,” said Farrell, who is a captain this year. “I wanted to go to CU and hang out with my friends. I figured I could always give Colby a shot, and if I hated it, I could always come back. I ended up loving it.” Farrell’s parents followed him back to Maine, with his father taking over as the superintendent of schools in the area around Kennebunkport, Maine.Farrell still considers Aspen home, however, and has returned the last three summers to live with friends and work in the valley. During the summer, he and Schermerhorn have played a lot of pickup basketball together back at the high school gym.While the two were respective team captains during their senior seasons at AHS, and earned all-league honors and honorable mentions to the all-state team, Schermerhorn notes that he waited for his turn in the spotlight.”He started varsity all four years,” Schermerhorn said. “I started varsity in my junior year, but I wasn’t a key part of the offense.”Schermerhorn’s breakout senior season the next year helped him draw interest from two schools: Trinity College in Texas and Washington University. The latter was the better fit, although like Farrell he applied to CU as a backup plan.Schermerhorn’s father, George, also played college basketball, at Central Connecticut State. More than anyone else, he credits his dad for preparing him for the jump up to the next level. “In Aspen, it’s really hard to find good competition,” he said. “To make it to the next level, it comes down to the amount of time you put in to yourself. It was just about getting in the gym, getting shots up and really knowing what to practice. I got the best teaching ever from my dad. We spent a lot of time just on my court at home, just putting in long hours.”And, while he was a star in high school, Schermerhorn said the experience of being a backup player for a good Division III program has been more rewarding. Last season he appeared in nine games, averaging 1.1 points and 0.9 rebounds. This year the Bears expect to compete for a tournament berth in March.”A lot of players say when you jump up a level, you’re not as good as you thought you were,” he said. “A lot of the kids on my team got recruited by D-I schools. When I showed up, I was at the bottom of the ladder. It’s been an amazing experience. It’s incredibly difficult, but I love it. Just the physicality of the game, and that everyone is strong. You can’t get away with stuff that you did in high school by just being taller. You’re forced to become a better player.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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