With John Calipari in the house, Kentucky commit Boogie Fland erupts on Senior Night | Zagsblog
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Monday / April 22.
  • With John Calipari in the house, Kentucky commit Boogie Fland erupts on Senior Night

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    By ZACH SMART

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — John Calipari arrived well prior to tip-off at Stepinac High School alongside Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua on Wednesday night, taking in the Senior Night ceremony as 2024 Kentucky signee Boogie Fland was honored.

    A 6-foot-3 point guard, Fland has been the central figure of a deep Stepinac team (21-3, 15-0 CHSAA “AA”) and its national ascension.

    He is known for a deadly 3-level scoring aptitude, a cerebral facilitating skill set, a knack for producing during heightened pressure moments. And, Fland is buoyed by a confrontational style which has made him the defensive anchor for head coach Pat Massaroni.

    In a 73-63 victory over St. Francis Prep during the final regular season home game of Fland’s storied four-year career at Stepinac, the Bronx native relished the atmosphere.

    Fland buried his first four 3-pointers in the first quarter, engineered a personal 8-0 run to start the game and scored Stepinac’s first 16 points. He decimated St. Francis Prep’s defense to the tune of a 29-point onslaught.

    Fland, who has piled up 1,000+ career points despite a Covid-truncated 2020-2021 season in which only a few official games were played, added eight rebounds and two steals.

    Calipari’s trip to Stepinac seemed to be an 11th hour decision.

    “I get the text in in the morning (that Coach Calipari) is coming to my game,” Fland said.

    “Put a smile on my face. Right in class. I’m in the middle of doing work. I get the text…I’m like ‘Ok…Showtime.’ I had to put on a show.”

    A McDonald’s All American, a player of Fland’s talent comes around about as often as an 82-degree day in New York during the winter.

    At least at 98 percent of programs in the country that is.

    Stepinac, however, has produced RJ Davis (North Carolina) and AJ Griffin (Duke/Atlanta Hawks) in recent memory.

    Fland is ready-made to follow a similar career trajectory, as his name is embedded alongside Davis and Griffin in Stepinac lore.

    Calipari has recruited Fland thoroughly ever since April of 2022, when he saw Fland at the Nike EYBL Session I in Orlando, Fla. Fland played his AAU ball under coach Terrance “Munch” Williams with the PSA Cardinals.

    While Stepinac has eaten up the conference schedule in shark-sized bites, Fland has been an extension of Massaroni in guiding his teammates while simultaneously preparing for the opponent.

    He’s lasered in during pre-game warmups, with nary a tinge of distraction.

    Several minutes before tip-off, after being introduced to an uproarious applause from the crowd with his parents beside him, the gravity of the moment finally hit Fland.

    He’s always been one to downplay the unique subplot of a game. He’s always been one keep his mind on the task at hand.

    Yet, as he stood for the national anthem, tears were suddenly cascading down Fland’s eyes and cheek bones.

    “There’s a lot of emotions going through your brain as you walk into senior night,” Fland said.

    “At first, I was fine. When I hit the court, it was like the emotions were running high. I caught a few tears. I’m just happy it happened. Happy with tears. We’re far from done.”

    Stepinac held a 38-29 halftime lead behind 18 points from Fland.

    Class of 2025 point guard Danny Carbuccia erupted at the start of the third quarter.

    Widely recognized for his spurt-ability and vaunted first step, Carbuccia catalyzed the Crusaders during the fourth quarter of a wild 68-67 victory over Iona Prep at Iona University on Friday.

    It was de ja vu all over again.

    Carbuccia snaked to the rim and drew a foul, hitting both free throws less than 30 seconds into the quarter.

    With 6:17 remaining, Carbuccia turned in a pretty looking Eurostep, extending the lead to 43-31.

    Stepinac senior Jordan Gabriel, a 6-foot-7 man-child, got free in transition for a monster dunk that pushed Stepinac’s lead to 45-31.

    Carbuccia came up with a steal and went end to end for a layup, as Stepinac seized a 49-33 bulge with 5:11 remaining.

    Class of 2026 guard Jasiah Jervis bucketed a corner 3-pointer with 4:29 remaining in the half, as Stepinac’s lead ballooned to 52-37.

    “At halftime, we said they were hugging Boogie, they were going to be aggressive,” Massaroni explained.

    “We told Danny he had to get to the rim. Create opportunities for himself, create opportunities for his teammates. He did a really good job of attacking, getting to that free throw line, making plays. Getting guys open shots. And that’s what Danny continues to do, night in and night out.”

    Carbuccia wound up with 12 points. Braylan Ritvo, a 6-foot-7 wing who recently committed to Quinnipiac University, added 10 points and seven rebounds.

    St. Francis Prep was paced by 16 points from multi-positional 6-foot-7 Class of 2026 Oesoemano Sacko and Nigel Moore. They were bolstered by the play of 2026 Ethan Butler, who got them jump-started offensively with a long 3-pointer, a drive, and an interior feed to Sacko, who converted the layup.

    The Terriers showed resilience in staging a late fourth quarter rally.

    Sacko hit a deep 3-pointer, and the 6-foot-1 Class of 2025 guard Moore stuck back to back 3-pointers in the final three minutes.

    Moore’s trifecta with two minutes and three seconds remaining cut the deficit to 10, 68-58. Troy Faison Jr.’s 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining sliced a once seemingly insurmountable lead down to seven, 68-61.

    Stepinac, however, would regroup.

    Fland blurred in for an open court layup to make it 71-61. Then, Ritvo sank a pair of free throws.

    Holding court before a sea of onlookers, penning autographs for young kids and taking an assortment of pictures after the game, Fland spoke with Antigua for about five minutes. Then, while being showered with cheers as fans jockeyed for position to shake his hand, Fland retreated to the locker room.

    When he committed to Kentucky in October, Fland was intrigued by the fact that nothing was guaranteed.

    Everything he wanted, Fland would have to grind for and take. The idea of having to prove himself and demand the respect resonated with him.

    He was equally impressed with the fact that Kentucky would ultimately give him the freedom to play his game.

    Plus, the system Calipari runs could possibly give Fland a green light with his deep 3-point range.

    “Going in there (to Kentucky), and being me,” Fland said, when asked about what he’s most excited about for next year.

    “Nothing is going to be promised. You have to go in there and take everything you want. College basketball, very different from high school. Different pace. Different game all the way around. You gotta work for it.”

    Calipari certainly showed loyalty to his incoming recruit–flying all the way from Lexington, Ky., to Westchester County to support Fland on his senior night.

    “(Kentucky) has shown what they mean to (Boogie), and what he means to them,” Massaroni said.

    “Understanding that in the middle of their SEC season, right after a big win (over Ole Miss) last night, they get on a plane to come out here today and see him. Coach Cal uses the term “La familia” a lot. That’s really what he is showing there to Boogie. And–Big Blue nation is getting a special player.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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