Hopkins Academy’s Andrew Ciaglo matured from 3-point shooter to floor general

  • Hopkins Academy’s Andrew Ciaglo has become much more than a shooter throughout his career for the Golden Hawks. FILE PHOTO

  • Hopkins Academy’s Andrew Ciaglo has become much more than a shooter throughout his career for the Golden Hawks. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hopkins Academy’s Andrew Ciaglo has become much more than a shooter throughout his career for the Golden Hawks. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 2/10/2022 8:33:18 PM
Modified: 2/10/2022 8:31:36 PM

HADLEY – Andrew Ciaglo could always score.

Former Hopkins Academy boys basketball coach Angelo Thomas saw flashes of it when he took over the Golden Hawks program in 2013 and Ciaglo was nine years old. 

“He was a shooter. He was a scorer,” Thomas said. “He was a little guy that could score.”

Now as a senior, he’s a bigger guy that can score, pass, defend and run his team. Ciaglo is still averaging 18.3 points per game, consistent with most of his career. He reached the 1,000-point milestone last year as a junior. Marry that with a willingness to pass, 10 pounds of muscle added to his frame, a basketball IQ that has only improved, increased defensive emphasis and the purpose of leadership and you have a complete point guard.

“He’s not just a scorer, he can run a team. He could be a good point guard for a college team,” said Thomas, who played at Maine and New Haven and is currently the Greenfield High School boys basketball coach. “I think he’s matured a lot these past couple years and taken his game from being a scorer to being able to run a team, and those are two different things.”

The Golden Hawks are 11-3 despite Ciaglo missing three games with a wrist injury. They’re the No. 6 team in the state’s Division 5 Power Rankings.

“I had to take on a bigger role. I couldn't really do that (just score) being a captain and everything,” Ciaglo said. “So I'm just trying to do my part and I know everyone will come along with me.”

Ciaglo’s scoring talent put him on junior varsity as a seventh grader. He was called up the varsity roster for the postseason and made a 3-pointer against Saint Joseph’s (the Pittsfield school that closed in June of 2017) during the Western Mass quarterfinals.

That shooting stroke helped him float between JV and varsity as an eighth grader the next season under Thomas. He made varsity as a freshman when former UMass assistant Andrew Ginsburg took the reins from Thomas, who had left for Greenfield, his alma mater.

“He went from a deep 3-point shooter, offensive minded guy to a complete player on both sides of the ball,” Ginsburg said. “He really became in tune with making the right play.”

Ginsburg, now an assistant at NYU, saw a lot of that development behind largely closed doors last season. Hopkins Academy only played eight games amidst pandemic related alterations. But Ciaglo honed his craft in empty gyms for both practices and games, as the Golden Hawks won their last seven games.

“Andrew started out as obviously a really talented offensive player and totally grew into a floor leader where his communication skills improved. He always had a great understanding of the game but now he could verbalize what others needed to do,” Ginsburg said. “Last year, he really started to defend. That made his words matter even more to his teammates because they could see he could help us defensively also, which earlier in his career when you’re as good offensively, it’s not something you’re demanded to do.”

His development pushed even further last spring and over the summer. Ciaglo played his AAU season with the Middlesex Magic program that has produced NBA players like Pat Connaughton and Duncan Robinson. Four members of its Class of 2022 have made Division I commitments, and 17 players will participate at the collegiate level.

Ciaglo also attended open gyms at AIC twice a week from August until the beginning of this basketball season running with some of the city and area’s best on a regular basis.

“That level of play that I played was at a much higher pace,” Ciaglo said. “It really slows the game down out here for me, and I think I can read a lot of things quicker.”

Jim Hart, who is coaching Hopkins Academy this season after nearly a decade at Wilbraham & Monson and Williston, noticed the jump. He recruited locally and nationally for those prep schools and was familiar with Ciaglo’s game. Or what Ciaglo’s game used to be.

“He's got really good core IQ, and what he's doing this year, I haven't seen,” Hart said.

His biggest leap this season came in his passing and how he runs the team. Ciaglo has played with most of the Golden Hawks since fourth grade.

“Our chemistry is really tight. We love each other. We know we got each other's backs,” Ciaglo said. “That's how we're gonna come out on top.”

Fellow senior Colin Earle – Ciaglo’s cousin – has played with him for even longer. He’s experienced Ciaglo’s growth as a player firsthand.

“I've loved watching him play. Every game is just a new game with him whether he's on or off,” Earle said. “Even when he's off, he’s taking it to the hoop. He controls the ball all the time for us. He just knows how to handle it. He knows how to get us, his teammates, the shots and it works.”

What about when he’s on?

“When he's hot. He's hot,” Earle said. “We get him the ball, put it in his hand, and he hits the shot. He's clutch.”

That’s a lot of problems for opposing coaches. They’re problems Thomas has to try and find solutions for coaching the Green Wave, who face Hopkins Academy regularly in the Hampshire League. The Golden Hawks prevailed the first three times they faced their old coach until he finally led Greenfield to a 66-62 victory on Jan. 11.

“He’s definitely a kid that you’ve got to game plan for and most of your game plan is centered around him,” Thomas said. “It’s always weird going to Hopkins and playing them or them coming and playing us. You circle those games on the schedule when it comes out because those are ones you want to get.”

But as long as Ciaglo isn’t suited up opposite the Green Wave, Thomas is pulling for him. He attended Hopkins Academy’s Division 4 baseball state championship game wearing a Golden Hawks pullover to support Ciaglo and other players he coached in Hadley.

“Andrew’s a super respectful kid, very nice kid, fierce competitor. He’s not somebody I would ever root against. I would always root for because he’s such a good kid,” Thomas said. “I know the work that he’s put into it.”

Thomas regularly shows his son Grayson, a sixth grader, film of Ciaglo to help him develop.

“My kid likes to shoot just the way Andrew likes to shoot,” Thomas said.

Not a bad blueprint to try and follow.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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