by Austin Chen, Sports Editor & Zach Rhein, Sports Reporter
photo contributed by Owen Holland
Only 12 people in South basketball history have scored 1,000 points, and senior Max Aicardi looks to become the 13th member of that exclusive club this season. In his first three years with the team, Aicardi played 65 games and scored 719 total points, which means that he needs just 281 more to reach the milestone of 1,000. Given the reduced schedule of this modified season, Max would need to score about 25 points per game to reach his goal.
If you ask Steven Aicardi, Max’s father, that achievement will come from the most vital parts of Max’s character: his work ethic and determination.
“He’s a kid who gets up at 6:30 in the morning to go to Newton South to shoot shots,” he said. “He comes home, and he thinks about it. He writes inspirational stuff on his wall and on his shoes, so he’s very goal-oriented. That really separates him, and he takes it very seriously.”
Max said his father was vital in developing his love for the game.
“I started playing when I was really young because my dad got me into it,” Max said. “And then pretty much since the first time I played, I fell in love with it.”
As a junior, Max was named a team captin, a rare honor that came with the new challenge of leading his peers. Boys varsity basketball head coach Steve Matthews said that Max handled the task with poise and confidence.
“Over the time that he’s been with me, he’s just evolved as a leader, and he’s a guy that guys on the team look to. He works the hardest in practice and sets a really good example for everybody else,” Matthews said. “He’s the type of kid that always does what’s right even when people aren’t looking, and a lot of guys on our team try to emulate it.”
Senior teammate Sam Prudovsky said Max emphasized the importance of always looking to improve something.
“He’s got a really good work ethic,” Prudovsky said. “He’s always pushing everyone to get better, and he said that the goal for the whole team is to always strive to make the people around them better.”
In the highly cerebral game of basketball, one of the most important skills for a player is being aware of the other nine people on the court. Matthews said Aicardi has this down.
“His game is definitely going to translate very well to the next level. The way he can shoot the ball, his high IQ, basketball IQ as well as high IQ in general, is going to make him a very good college player,” Matthews said. “In general, whatever he decides to do after college, he’s going to be extremely successful. I can tell you that he’s just a really good kid and a really hard worker.”
Max, however, said he’s surprised that he is this close to reaching 1,000 points.
“It’s surreal. My freshman year, I didn’t really have that many points, I had like 90 points, and we had a rocky year as a team overall,” he said. “My sophomore year I scored around 300. And then I realized: ‘I can actually hit 1,000.’ Coming into high school, I just wanted to be on the team and be successful as a team; I wasn’t really thinking about scoring 1,000.”
Prudovsky said he supported Max’s goal, but worried if a season shortened by the Coronavirus pandemic could potentially preclude the milestone.
“I definitely think Max deserves it,” he said. “If we had a full season, I think he would definitely reach it. I still think he has a chance now, but … the season is short.”
Regardless of whether Max reaches 1,000 points or not, he will face the question of what he plans to do next. Luckily for Max, he said he doesn’t have to face that question alone.
“I have a bunch of good people around me, and people who have gone to that next level, so they’re giving me their advice on what they did,” he said.
While Max’s story is decidedly unfinished, he said he’s eternally thankful for his time representing South on the court.
“Just the other day I was a freshman on the team. It was crazy to think that I’m a couple weeks away from my senior season,” he said. “It’s really important to appreciate everything you have, both in terms of the basketball season and in general.”