Postgraduate athletes at Blair Academy: here for sports and recruitment opportunities. It is the same pattern every time. An athlete wants another year to improve upon their already established skills so that they can enhance their game and have a chance to be recruited by a better college. I never quite understood why someone would want to do an extra year of high school just for a slightly better college opportunity until I met David Luberoff.
At six foot ten, David seemed just like any other postgraduate trying to be recruited for college basketball. Tall, athletic, hardworking… all of the same traits I have seen over and over. The problem: he was injured. He had dislocated his shoulder back in April and tore his labrum. David had a choice at that moment: he could either get surgery to repair the ailment and return by Thanksgiving, or he could push through. He pushed through summer training and would try to compete in Blair’s basketball season, resulting in his injury getting worse. Post his September 27th surgery, David learned the recovery process would be a long road ahead of him: two months until he could shoot, three months until he could participate in a team workout, and six months until he is able to play in his contact sport. David will not be able to play basketball for Blair this winter season, so why has he stayed?
Originating from Midland Park High School and Bergen County, David Luberoff’s basketball career was promising. He attended Don Bosco for his freshman year of high school in search of better competition and to try and catch the eye of college basketball coaches. After just one year, David returned to Midland Park. Though he worried about recruitment at his small town public school, his father reminded him, “if you are good enough they will find you”. Midland Park buzzed with the news that “Luberoff was returning,” the same buzz that possibly made David stay.
David’s coach reached out to Joe Mantegna, Blair Academy’s basketball coach, during David’s junior year of high school. The coach believed that David had potential for a better school and needed to get out of his public school environment. Despite his coach’s attempts to reclassify him as a new junior, he never left Midland Park, but eventually arrived at Blair as a postgraduate student.
Third day, first practice… the beginning of the recruitment process for David Luberoff had finally arrived. Unfortunately, this was greeted with his torn labrum injury. Despite this challenge, David decided to stay at Blair Academy. His advisor, Anders Fogel, who first met the postgraduate student when he helped him move his fridge into Mason, observed, “Though he can’t play sports, I think there is also a social aspect to being a PG”. “David’s original plan definitely was to come to Blair for basketball training, but I think he also sees value in everyday life here. I think he sees the school as an opportunity for the classes offered and just the whole boarding school experience”.
Joe Mantegna had known about David Luberoff for years and is finally getting to know him as an athlete, student, and person. After David’s injury took place, Mantegna immediately let the basketball player know that if he wanted to go home he completely understood. However, David was quick to respond that he would stay at the school despite his injury preventing him from playing during the season. “He is all in,” Mantegna reports, adding that the athlete continues to impress him, showing up for every team lift, practice, and discussion. “He has handled his injury with such grace. His attitude has really been to service others during his time here and I have come to admire him”. Mantegna has even gone as far as wanting David to act as an assistant basketball coach during the 2022-2023 winter season, describing him as an “unbelievable kid who we are lucky to have in our community”.
Though David’s role has switched for this upcoming season, he will continue to train in any way he can, first to shoot again, then to join workouts, and finally to reach a state in which he can participate in his beloved sport. David is expected to fully resume training and playing during the spring season. He will continue to work toward recruitment from colleges, as many have already become interested in him as a player.
Blair is a community where each student seems to hold a role or bring something to the school. This ranges anywhere from music to athletics to what they bring as a person. “Every year I ask my players ‘how are you going to add value?’” Mantegna stated, “I’m interested to see how David Luberoff does that.”