Basketball superstar

Next Bergen Catholic NJ basketball superstar


All season people watched Bergen Catholic play basketball and whispered, “just think if they had their best player.”

The Crusaders have several bonafide stars, including the program’s all-time leading scorer in Will Richardson, but they enter Tuesday’s Tournament of Champions quarterfinal game without sophomore point guard Elliot Cadeau.

Gift sprained his ankle in a scrimmage against Gill St. Bernard’s in December, tried to come back, but re-injured himself. He will not play this season.

“Now we’re taking it as slowly as possible,” Cadeau said Monday afternoon. “I don’t want this to drag on. I want it done and I don’t want to come back too soon.

The West Orange native was the starting point guard for the Crusaders as a rookie during the shortened COVID season. Its impact was immediate.

“He can do all the things that all the other kids can do that the fans love,” Bergen Catholic coach Billy Armstrong said. “He can score a lot of points. He can bounce back. Last year we beat a real good TPS [The Patrick School] team and he had six points but he dominated the game. He is good at taking orders. It makes everyone’s job easier.

Gift, 17, has started light training and said he might be able to jog by the end of the week. He hopes to be on the summer ball circuit in a few weeks.

In a way, the 6-foot-1 giveaway remains a bit of a mystery in North Jersey. There were no fans allowed at games last season, and he hasn’t played at all this year. But if you google her name, you’ll find stunning clips and charts.

He already has several college offers, including Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, St. John’s, and Seton Hall.

“He plays at a different speed than the other kids,” Armstrong said. “And he is a child of character. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but sometimes I feel like 5 star kids don’t want to be coached. He wants to be trained hard. He asks questions. He makes me a better coach.

Gift likes the Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker, Jahvon Quinerly and De’Aaron Fox; guys who pass more than they shoot but still control the flow of the game.

“People always think shooting is the thing to do,” Cadeau said. “But a crazy pass is better in my opinion.”

Gift is currently ranked by 247Sports as New Jersey’s No. 2 player for the Class of 2024. He was a member of Sweden’s U-18 and U-16 national team – he has dual citizenship through his mother.

The attention can be overwhelming, but Gift is at the stage where it’s all still fun.

“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “I haven’t made any visits or anything, so a decision isn’t close to being made.”

Growing up, Cadeau grew up in an athletic family. Her father is an avid tennis player and her older brother, Justin, plays tennis at Howard. The youngster played many different sports but fell in love with basketball in the third grade. He can almost identify the exact moment when everything fell into place for him. Playing with his friends, helping to make the game easier and making everyone better was his passion. He never looked back.

Being injured was hard. He hated watching the Crusaders win the sectional semi-final against St. Peter’s Prep, because it looked so much fun to play. But Armstrong praises how he has stayed connected to the team.

“It’s not the role he wanted, but he’s been a key part of our success this year,” Armstrong said. “He’s like an assistant coach on the bench. He is the first guy to sing defense; he asks me who he would keep if he was playing.

With any top athlete in high school, a question of commitment has to be asked. Gift says without hesitation that he plans to stay at Bergen Catholic for four years. Essentially missing his first two seasons has made him hungry to show off what he can do.

Gift says he can’t do anything but work hard. He tries to eat well, sleep well and do all the little things to give him an edge.

“I definitely realize from this injury that basketball is my life,” Cadeau said. “I want to play basketball for as long as possible, whether it’s in the NBA or overseas. I want to make a good living and do this for the rest of my life.

Darren Cooper is an avid high school fishing sports columnist for For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get the latest news straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.

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