Six-foot floor general Jared Berry enjoyed his best high school campaign to date as a junior for the Danvers Falcons this past winter.
The shifty scorer averaged a North Shore best 22.4 points per game while swallowing up seven rebounds and dishing out three assists a night to boot.
But with the lack of overall experience and depth that Danvers had to offer, coupled with his well documented offensive prowess, Berry often faced double-teams and traps as he looked to produce buckets for his team. That reality somewhat hindered his growth as a player, although head coach Chris Timson did admit he came a long way in the leadership department.
"His maturity has certainly grown, and I saw him become more of a leader with his teammates," said Timson. "He was more vocal and grew leaps and bounds in terms of communicating with his teammates and getting them to work harder. He leads by example; always in the gym doing the little things that you need to do to improve and he really set a good tone that if you work hard good things will come for you."
Having scored over 800 points in his three-year run at Danvers, Berry was well on his way to becoming just the fifth player in school history to surpass the 1,000 career point mark. But this is a player that wanted to challenge himself at the highest of levels, working to improve his game in every facet and carry that growth into the college level down the line.
Now, he'll get the chance to do that without having to face the constant box-and-one and triangle-and-two defensive schemes used against him so often in the Northeastern Conference.
Berry recently announced that he will be transferring to Vermont Academy in Saxtons River and will reclassify as a junior in order to get two solid prep years in.
"It was always a goal of mine to play a high level of high school basketball," said Berry. "Vermont Academy is one of the best prep schools in all of New England so to get to play with and against top players in the country and get more exposure is awesome. I'm really going to miss Danvers; I had a lot of fun there. But now I'm looking ahead and will be ready to do whatever the team wants from me."
During the offseason, Berry competes for the AAU program MCW Starz, founded by former Hamilton-Wenham standout and current NBA player Michael Carter Williams' parents, Mandy Carter-Zegarowski and Zach Zegarowski. It was there that he garnered a connection to Vermont Academy, showing off his skillset against solid competition and earning a partial scholarship to his new school in the process.
So what is Berry's initial goal when he arrives at Vermont late this summer? Shooting.
"I think shooting for sure, and doing so more efficiently," Berry said. "Not even just taking better shots but shooting at a higher percentage. I always felt like I could somewhat shoot from the outside but I want to develop to be able to shoot from further out and be more consistent because kids there are going to be 6-foot-8, 6-10 even 7-feet and it's going to be a lot harder to get my shot off."
A score-first point guard at Danvers, Berry hopes to blossom into a more well-rounded facilitator as well. In addition, he focuses a lot of his energy on the defensive end, which he said "is most important in my mind", and will welcome the challenge of guarding the opponents' best players when given the opportunity.
Berry plans to get plenty of reps in this summer working with trainer Tony Gallo as well as continuing his play with the MCW Starz. He'll also compete with his AAU teammates on the ever-growing 'Props 2 Pops' summer hoops league in Salem.
Vermont Academy has yet to release a winter schedule due to the ongoing restrictions surrounding the pandemic, but Berry plans to arrive to campus sometime in late August/early September and go from there.
"I'm doing some traveling for AAU, going to New York for a tournament and Florida for another one," said Berry. "Then I'll be doing the P2P league that should take me into August, and then it's just getting a lot of work in with Tony Gallo and just working on shooting every single day."
"His confidence will grow because it will be a different system and different style that I think will really benefit his game," added Timson. "Everything he's doing is right. I would have gone the same route eventually if I was in his position. Obviously we don't want to lose him but we support it and think he's making the right decision so we're extremely happy for him."