Article by Phoenix writer Tsassis Angelo ’22:
A few words of advice, should you ever be matched up in a basketball game with Kellenberg senior Nick Spinoso: Do not seek for any post shots. Whether you are back down or face up, his mere presence is enough to ensure that your shot is promptly swatted into the stands. Don’t bother even attempting to guard him in the post, either. His impeccable footwork and creative finishes around the rim make that a terrible idea. Don’t jump with him. His long wingspan and strong hands allow him to pull in every rebound in his vicinity. And whatever you do, do not sag off him on defense. That is unless you plan on allowing him to carve you up with a perfectly timed pass to an open teammate.
Spinoso’s superior passing awareness makes him nearly unguardable for opposing players. His passing IQ and vision are what teammates and coaches say are his best attributes on the court. It gives him an edge that most high school big men don’t have.
“Nick has been a great teammate throughout the years, being one of the best passers on the team. He was always a leader on the floor, leading on both offense and defense. And he always picks up a teammate when they are down,” says fellow senior and captain Jake Cosgrove, who shared the court with Spinoso for 4 years at Kellenberg.
His incredible talent and desire have led Spinoso to his fair share of accolades. Averaging 21 points, 14 boards, 5 assists, and 4 blocks per game throughout his 4-year career, Nick garnered 1st team NSCHSAA All-League and 2nd team all Long Island honors for the 2018-19 season. It’s likely he reaches those heights again this year, based on his exemplary play this season.
Kellenberg’s coach, Mr. McCutcheon, has high praise for his star player. “Nick Spinoso was a 3-year starter for the KMHS varsity basketball team. He was a great leader and mentor towards the younger players on the team. He is without a doubt one of the best big men to play basketball in KMHS history.”
Spinoso’s versatile arsenal of basketball skills took immense time and effort to be mastered. His passion and dedication to the sport are evident every time he steps onto the court. His teammate Cosgrove says, “He also just flat out cares more than most people. Playing late after practice, or going to a gym.”
Spinoso cited his father as the main reason he plays. “He taught me everything I know and I really strive to be just like him,” says Nick. “Also, just my love for it. I never get tired of it and I never want to stop.”
Spinoso displays this tenacity and determination in each and every game he plays. He is an imposing force in the paint on both ends of the hardwood, and his versatile game has no blemishes. He can do anything his coach asks of him on the basketball court, and it leads to substantial totals piling up in the box score. Spinoso is the true definition of a “stat-sheet stuffer”.
“Someone I model my game after is probably Nikola Jokic. A big man who can do a little of it all, and a very good passer.” Jokic is infamous in the NBA for being one of the only players who can shoot, finish, and facilitate the ball at ease. The Denver Nuggets’ superstar center is a fitting comparison for Spinoso’s multifaceted game. One doesn’t have to squint to see the similarities between the two. They share the distinction of being big men whose best asset is their uncanny passing ability.
The zenith of his high school career came on February 11th, 2020. This particular game against St. Dominic High School was Senior Night for Kellenberg. It also happened to be the night when Spinoso would score his 1,000th point as a Firebird. An incredible achievement for an incredible player.
Although his time as a Kellenberg basketball player is over, Spinoso plans to continue his playing career. He’ll be attending Kimball Union Academy, a prestigious prep school in New Hampshire. His story is far from written, and his future is bright. Nick Spinoso; remember the name.