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NORWALK — On the basketball court, Norwalk’s Roy Kane Jr. has nothing left to prove to his hometown.
He was a four-year starter at Norwalk High School and wrapped up his career more than a year ago as the city’s second all-time leading scorer, behind only Basketball Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy.
Kane, however, can still teach the next generation of basketball players in his hometown a lot.
On Thursday night at the Carver Center — the place where he grew up as both a young boy and as a young basketball player — Kane showed that dreams do come true as he signed an official letter of intent to take his skills to the University of New Haven on a full athletic scholarship.
Kane, flanked by his parents Roy Sr. and Josephine, and brother Xavier, signed the letter in front of nearly three-dozen members of the Carver-based TMT AAU basketball program, as well as other family and friends.
“I’m happy with where I am going. It’s the best fit and a good situation,” Kane Jr. said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to step in right away and contribute.”
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Kane, who spent last winter at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., was a highly touted FCIAC player who had a number of Division 1 offers under his belt.
The 18-year-old — who will turn 19 in December — was young for his graduating class and opted to spend a year at prep school to mature his game, his body and his educational prowess, as well.
The decision paid off as New Haven is getting a vastly different player from the one who scored 1,590 points to go along with 1,039 rebounds at Norwalk High.
“I’ve seen the change,” said Norwalk boys basketball coach Tom Keyes. “First thing that’s noticeable is he’s added 10 pounds and has a college-ready body now. In his game, I’m seeing a lot more perimeter skills, which will translate well to college. And, as a person, he’s definitely grown up. He’s a young man now. I think he’s ready to go.”
The University of New Haven program has been on a rollercoaster ride since the turn of the century.
After six straight losing seasons, the Chargers turned things around from 2012-2015, posting four straight winning seasons under head coach Ted Hotaling. Two of those seasons included 20-win seasons that saw the Chargers advance to NCAA tournament play.
This most recent winter, though, New Haven was rebuilding and finished 8-18.
During Kane’s junior and senior year, the Chargers were always interested in the swingman, but like most people, the school’s coaching staff thought he would end up a Division 1 program somewhere.
“They came in and recruited me hard. I think they recruited me the longest,” Kane said. “Other schools came and went, but they were always there.”
After he went to Notre Dame Prep, New Haven turned up the heat on its interest.
“When he was in Fitchburg, they were talking to me a lot and they made it clear that Roy Kane was their priority,” Keyes said. “They were hoping he would slip through the Division 1 cracks. Whether it’s Division 1 or Division 2, at the end of the day the tuition is still zero.”
Under NCAA regulations, Hotaling is not allowed to comment on recruits until after the school receives the athlete’s signed Letter of Intent.
Signing at the Carver Center, where Kane once played for TMT and in countless after-school pick-up games, sent a message to the future of the sport in the city.
“I’ve been around here my whole life,” Kane said. “I think it’s a big. A lot of kids know me, so signing in front of them just shows if you work hard you can go to school for free. I really wanted them to see that.”
It was at the Carver Center where Keyes first saw Kane, who as an eighth grader sported a Mohawk hairstyle and Kareem-like eye goggles.
“He was big and he stood out,” Keyes said. “But he was also a great player and a great kid. Tonight is just the culmination of all the hard work by Roy, by his parents, all the people here at the Carver Center. It’s really exciting for him. It’s not the end for him. It’s just the beginning.”
Carver is the Place To Be