Bristol Press Athletes of the Week are St. Paul's Jade Udoh and Bristol Eastern's Carter Dziedzic

Published on Monday, 17 December 2018 20:07


Two of the more productive basketball players from the area share “Athlete of the Week”  recognition.

They are St. Paul’s Jade Udoh, the daughter of Bevin and Unwana Udoh, and Bristol Eastern’s Carter Dziedzic, the grandson of Raymonde Pelletier, each from Bristol.

Udoh, a six-foot center for coach Joe Mone’s team, unbeaten after winning three games last week, was a stalwart in the victories along with junior classmate Janessa Gonzalez. Udoh scored 13, 19 and 11 points in respective victories, Tuesday’s 57-54 edging of host Holy Cross, a 52-25 win over host Woodland in Beacon Falls on Thursday and a 41-21 win over Derby at home the following day.

Mone speaks well of his center, whose family he has known since Udoh was a youngster.

“Jade worked extremely hard in the offseason to make herself stronger in her skills and strength and it has really showcased so far this season,”  Mone said. “More important, her leadership skills are an asset to our team. She’s very good with our younger players and is a great role model for them.”

Last year, Udoh averaged 12 points with just under eight boards an outing. This year, the team goal is to go all the way.

“I feel like we are getting back into the swing of things,” Udoh said. “We’re still a new team … it’ll take us some time to mesh as a team. The team goal is to play for the [state] championship. It’s the ‘Run to the Sun,’ as they say,” with the state finals played at Mohegan Sun Arena.

As far as the NVL goes, she wants to win back-to-back titles before graduating. St. Paul won when she was a freshman, so that would make a possible three for her scholastic career.

Udoh, who concentrates on basketball year-round, likes the sport because it’s “an escape from reality.”

“To clock out of school and relationships and just concentrate on basketball,” Udoh said. “When I step onto the court, it’s all gone. I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old.”

At St. Paul with Mone, it’s all about family and preparing for both the next game and life.

“I’ve known him almost my entire life,” Udoh said. “It’s like family. If I called him and needed something, he’d be there for me. He coached as an assistant at Bristol Eastern for coach [Tony] Floyd when my mother [then Unwana Shappy] played.”

Dziedzic, a forward for coach Bunty Ray, stood out in his team’s season-opening game on Saturday, a 59-42 loss to visiting RHAM. He scored a game-high 26 points, which amounted to 62 percent of Eastern’s total.

Dziedzic, a starter since his freshman year after Tyler Arbuckle had gone down to injury, only played two games last season before being taken out of competition with a torn left labrum. His return enlightens the Lancer lineup.

“Carter is a great leader that is asked to do a lot on and off the court,” Ray said. “I know coming off the injury from last year he wants to do well and he has tremendous passion for basketball. He is a positive role model for the team and must lead a group that is extremely young and inexperienced.

“I have coached a lot of players in 20 years across three sports and can say without a doubt he is one of the best when it comes to working every day with great effort and enthusiasm and caring about his teammates.”

Dziedzic talked about his team’s goal.

“This year we want to make it to the state tournament and make a run, because we haven’t in the previous years I’ve played,” Dziedzic said. “I think with this team we have the tools.”

The opening game loss was not a good start, but the senior leader said that’s all been figured out.

“We came out expecting to win the game,” Dziedzic said. “Our confidence was a little high and we came in unprepared. But, that only gives us room to improve in our future games. To be successful, we just have to put the parts together.

“Our style is being adapted to coach Ray’s style of play,” Dziedzic said. “I think he’s doing a great job with the people we have this year. He’s been practicing us much harder, which I think is good for the team.”

His plans for next year include college, but he’s unsure what he wants to focus on for studies at this time, as well as if he will play basketball at that level. He’s searching for the right school in the meantime. He said he might also go back to high school baseball this coming spring.

“If my [college] sports plans don’t work out, I will attend CCSU for a liberal arts program,” Dziedzic said.

Contact Bob Montgomery at The Bristol Press, 188 Main St.; or by calling 860-973-1808.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Athletes of the Week, Bristol Eastern, St. Paul on Monday, 17 December 2018 20:07. Updated: Monday, 17 December 2018 20:10.