You have to wonder if Northeastern mens basketball coach Bill Coen understands how fortunate he really is.
Or at least how lucky he could be.
Thanks to NU’s Torch Scholars program, Coen will most likely be hosting one of New England’s most intriguing hoop walk-ons next season, Brooks School’s David Berroa.
Of course, Berroa is the true beneficiary of the entire process. Recently, the senior from Lowell earned one of eight “Torch” scholarships to NU, a complete, five-year free ride designed to give deserving inner city students a fair shot at a top level education.
To Berroa, who will study architecture at NU, the entire package will be worth well over a quarter of a million dollars.
“I feel completely blessed,” said Berroa, who was one of nearly 500 nominees, who then were pared down to 50 finalists. “When I went in for interviews with the finalists, I heard a lot of amazing stories. I just feel totally fortunate to be one of the winners.”
Northeastern was one of Berroa’s top two academic choices, but his regular application to the school had been deferred.
When they heard about the Torch Scholars, he and Brooks coach John McVeigh pounced on the chance.
McVeigh was Berroa’s “mentor” through the interview process with all the finalists. Going through the process was a day he won’t soon forget.
“It’s just an amazing group of kids and an incredible opportunity for David — he is beyond excited,” said McVeigh. “I’m obviously really, really proud of him.”
Having played at such a top level of hoop — and succeeding — the last three seasons at Brooks, Berroa becomes at least an intriguing prospect for Coen and the Huskies.
“We’ll see what happens; I would love to have the chance to try out,” said Berroa. “I love the game of basketball. I would do anything to stay around it. I know I’ve played against some of the best players out there. Every day in practice, I go against a Division 1 player in (UMass Lowell-bound) Jayde Dawson.”
You don’t have to ask McVeigh twice about his point guard’s credentials.
For evidence, he points to the 43-3 mark with Berroa in the lineup and the 15-13 mark when he missed time with a broken leg.
McVeigh also noted that in the New England Prep quarterfinal win, he put up 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists against Beaver Country Day junior Jeff Spellman.
He also held Spellman, a point guard with multiple Division 1 offers, to only three points.
Basketball or not, Berroa is on the fast track with a bright future.