HILLSIDE, NJ — By the time West Orange native Kyrie Irving graduated the legendary St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth in 2010, he was the top-ranked basketball player in the country, and has since become one of the best guards in National Basketball Association (NBA) history. Elliot Cadeau, a rising eighth-grade guard also from West Orange, is following in Irving's footsteps.
In addition to hailing from the same town, the two now have something else in common: they are both Celtics.
Cadeau has been accepted into the New Jersey Basketball Academy at Irving’s alma mater, The Patrick School (formerly St. Patrick), where he will be a student and train year-round in the Celtics’ revolutionary program. Basketball Spotlight currenly ranks Cadeau as the No. 19 player of his age in the country—seven spots below LeBron James, Jr.—and Cadeua believes the Hillside-based program will turn him into one of the best.
“I think this will be better than anything I’ve ever done,” said Cadeau. “It makes me trust The Patrick School (TPS), knowing that NBA players have gone through there. I look up to Kyrie. I want to take the path that he’s taken.”
Irving’s influence extends far beyond coincidence. The fact that his path was strikingly similar makes Cadeau’s basketball dreams much more realistic, knowing that someone once in his shoes made it.
“Honestly, for him, it makes it, like, ‘we can do this’,” said Elliot’s mother, Michelle, who works at TPS. “It makes it tangible; it’s not just a dream.”
In order to enter the first-year program, Cadeau, who attended TPS as a seventh grader, first had to be accepted. He joined hundreds of other applicants in writing essays and being interviewed by head coach Chris Chavannes.
“I learned a lot from the interviews,” said Cadeau. “Coach Chavannes taught me a few things, and I learned that I can really be great here.”
Given the school’s rich legacy, Cadeau has a strong chance of fulfilling that dream.
TPS basketball, previously coached by Kevin Boyle and Mike Rice, is the one of the most successful high school programs in the world, having won seven NJSIAA Tournament of Champions and consistently residing high in the national rankings.
This year, the Hillside school is out to change the game with this academy, where Cadeau will be one of 30 selected student-athletes to be enrolled.
The students will take four core courses—math, science, English and social studies—as well as two sports-centric electives during the academic day before training for several hours in the same building. Renowned basketball trainers such as D.J. Sackmann and Delson Training will run the basketball side, which has players working on all facets of the game: shooting, defense, handles, strength and conditioning, film study, etc.
“I’ve trained with Delson Training this whole year—he does a lot with handles, and I think my handles got a lot better,” said Cadeau. “DJ Sackmann will train with shooting, footwork; it will be really good.”
The system prepares kids for the higher levels of school ball and college, which requires a balance between sports and class. In addition to the core courses, the kids will also take classes in fitness and nutrition to enhance their athletic knowledge. They will also learn how to write their own scouting reports from the film studies.
The schedule is made to resemble that of a college program. For middle schoolers, there isn’t an academy like it in the country.
“They’re going to spend time in the fitness room everyday with two of the trainers we have here; they are going to be on the court, and are also going to learn the game situations,” his mother said. “They are going to train like a college kid trains.”
During the AAU season, Cadeau plays on the Under Armour circuit for acclaimed Sports U/Team IZOD. That program’s pedigree further displays that Cadeau's career could be very special.
The organization out of Northern New Jersey has recently produced extreme talent. Take for example “The Fab 5” of Naz Reid (LSU), Jahvon Quinerly (Villanova), Louis King (Oregon), Luther Muhammad (Ohio State) and Atiba Taylor (Youngstown State). Then there is the pair of Karl Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) and DeAndre Bembrey (Atlanta Hawks).
Between the training Cadeau will receive at TPS and the competition he will face at Sports U, Cadeau will compete at the highest level of basketball that an eighth grader possibly can.
“Between [Sports U] and TPS, I believe it will make me a really great player,” he said. “If I stay with TPS in high school, I think that will make me a Division I college player.”
Like many elite players his age, Cadeau’s decision has non-basketball effects, such spending less time wih his West Orange friends, and he will learn adjust to a new, more demanding lifestyle.
But, according to Cadeau, sacrifices have to be made in pursuit of one's dreams.
“[Leaving West Orange] was a hard decision, because I had to leave a lot of my friends,” he said. “But I have to make sacrifices in order to be the best in the country.”