Brian Sullivan: Bryce Daley happy to take his game on the road
The kid had it all figured out. The homework, he said, could be done in the car while traveling to and from Albany, N.Y., where he was a new member of the AAU Albany City Rocks basketball program. Bryce Daley may not miss many hardwood jump shots, but he misfired on this idea.
Said his father, Rocky Daley: "I won't forget that first day he took out a school book and started to read. His face started to get real white. It turns out that reading while driving made him car sick."
Bryce Daley continues to trust his instincts, and that intuitive nature has rarely let him down ever since. And that's good, because the Pittsfield teen -- he turns 16 in September -- is living a life not shared by many his age. During this particular AAU season, Daley has bussed to Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New York City. A trip to Arkansas is on the horizon.
He passed on a visit to Nashville, Tenn., where he was invited to attend an elite national age-group camp, so that he could play for the City Rocks in a tournament in Boston.
Said Rocky Daley, "At that same age, the biggest decision I had each day was whether to ride my bicycle to baseball practice or get a ride with my mother. It's buses this year and it could be airports next year. But the City Rocks are like a second family, and Bryce is very comfortable now packing his suitcase and getting on a bus or staying with teammates in the Albany area.
"He's been associating with highly motivated and disciplined kids for quite a while now. One of his teammates took the train from Buffalo by himself so that he could get on the team bus in Albany for a tournament in New York."
It's always been about pushing the limits for the youngster, who earned All-North honors from the county's coaches following his freshman year at Pittsfield High School.
But it's not as easy as it looks. Daley's PHS team was loaded with upperclassmen, who had earned both minutes on the court and shot attempts. Daley, as a freshman, did what freshmen do. He passed often, although he did have a quartet of game-winning baskets.
"I admit that I did ease myself into the season," the younger Daley said.
With the City Rocks, he's a starter and has flourished accordingly. But the AAU tournaments are bunched with both prep school and college coaches and scouts, and Daley plays side by side with athletes his age who are already in New England and New York prep schools.
He knows that to get better it's a path he may ultimately have to consider. He's loyal to Pittsfield High School -- his goal is to win a Division II state title this year for coach Steve Ray and the Generals -- but won't rest until he looks over the mountaintop of his own ability. Only then will Bryce Daley relax. His AAU coach, Ralph Tucker, said that Daley's top-tier age 15 team could defeat 85 percent of the public high schools in the Capitol District.
At 6 feet, Daley is hoping his lean frame will stretch a little taller and become a little stronger in the upcoming couple of years. He is starting to visualize a future that perhaps once seemed elusive.
Bryce Daley is 15 with concrete dreams. Who would walk him off the path he's on? Who would tell him no? Compete against the best you can find, be the best you can be. Be Bryce Daley, because at age 15 -- going on 30 -- you have earned the right to call your own plays.
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