EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 15, 2012

Sports in a minute

David Willis
dwillis@eagletribune.com

---- — Noah in the lottery?

Haverhill basketball phenom Noah Vonleh may have just committed to the University of Indiana, but one website is already predicting his post-college prospects.

Nbadraft.net has Vonleh projected to be picked No. 3 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. It says he has “NBA All-Star potential” and lists former NBA All-Star Jamal Mashburn as the NBA player he most resembles.

The site also projects the man Vonleh will most likely replace as Indiana’s go-to guy Cody Zeller, to be the top pick in the 2013 draft.

Max runs wild

It’s been a big month for former Salem High football star Max Jacques. The Eagle-Tribune 2010 offensive Player of the Year has scored back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances, recording 128 yards against Valparaiso and 102 against Dayton. He has also hit for touchdown runs of 96 yards and 76 yards.

Jacques, who has 435 rushing yards and five touchdowns, was named CoSIDA/Capital One First Team All-District this week.

It has been a great year for former Salem backs. Jerickson Fedrick, who just finished his season at Choate and was featured in The Eagle-Tribune yesterday, finished the year with 1,268 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns this fall in just nine games.

Gati enjoys life

Speaking of Salem football, recently-retired Blue Devils football coach Jack Gati is enjoying post-football life.

“I, of course, miss the sport like crazy,” said Gati. “But I’ve been doing a lot of great things since I retired. It’s amazing how much time football takes up.”

Gati — who was 121-77 in 18 years at Salem and won titles in 1995 and 2009 — will be back coaching very soon. He is back as head boys spring track coach, and will help the indoor track team.

Cronin makes own name

Molly Cronin, one of the unsung heroes of the Andover volleyball team that advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals this fall, laughed at the mention of being the younger sister of area track legend Moira Cronin.

“Tough is an understatement,”Molly with a chuckle. “It could be really hard being Moira’s younger sister. But I love her and it was great experiencing so much with her.”

Moira, of course, crushed the area record in the high jump (5-10), was a three-time All-Scholastic and five-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star in track and also stood out in volleyball. She is currently jumping for Virginia.

But Molly, a 6-foot-1 senior, carved out her own resume in volleyball this season. She finished the year with 119 kills and 73 blocks.

“It took a lot of work,” said Molly. “But I am very proud of what I accomplished and what the team did this year.”

Dickey amazes

On the baseball surface, R.A. Dickey winning the National League Cy Young Award this year is amazing enough, since he is 38-years-old, was cut two years ago and is the first knuckleballer to win the award.

But that is just the beginning of his truly miraculous story. His autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up” tells the brutally honest story of the horrific abuse he suffered as a child, and how it has influenced the rest of his life and baseball career.

It is a challenging read, due to its content, but a worthwhile and fascinating book.

Good for Bobby V

There’s a lot you can say about he performance of Bobby Valentine in his one rough season as Red Sox manager, but credit the guy for honoring his commitments.

Last Thursday, Valentine made his scheduled speaking appearance in the esteemed Salem State Speakers Series. It would have been easy for Valentine to bail on the appearance — as political commentator Anderson Cooper proved when he canceled twice earlier this year.