MILFORD, Del. -- To a certain extent, Steve Hailey (right) has spent some time waiting in the wings at Worcester Academy.
So when the Hilltoppers opened their season on Saturday afternoon at the War on the Shore, Hailey wasted little time in grabbing the spotlight.
Hailey shredded West Nottingham Academy for 10 points, seven assists, two steals and just one turnover in an 83-48 rampage.
No more Jarrett Jack (now at Georgia Tech) or Wes Wardrop (at Loyola Marymount) to share minutes with at the point. The 2002-2003 Worcester team is Hailey's to lead, and lead them he did with great aplomb on Saturday.
"I feel more involved than last year, so it makes a big difference," the wiry built floor general said. "It's my team, so they are looking for me at all times to get the ball to them and get them involved in the flow of the game."
A 6-0 senior with excellent quickness, Hailey signed early with Boston College. West Nottingham couldn't keep Hailey from darting in the lane, and 6-8 senior power forward Nick Stafford was the primary beneficiary of much of Hailey's handiwork.
Getting the ball in a great position consistently down low, the explosive Stafford collected 11 points and 11 rebounds on the day. At least four of Stafford's five buckets on the day were dunks, and many of them came as a direct result of Hailey's penetration skills.
Sam Kaplan, a rugged 6-6 rock of consistency in the paint, also chipped in 14 points from his forward slot in the Hilltoppers' balanced offensive attack.
Sure, Hailey had help from backcourt mates Dwight Brewington (Providence) and Carl Elliott, who pumped in 15 and nine points, respectively on the day.
But there was little mistake who was in charge all day, as Brewington and Elliott played off the ball when Hailey was in the game.
"Last year, I didn't really have the ball in my hands," Hailey said. "So I drifted off to the side."
"This year, I am on the top, and the ball is in my hands all of time," he continued. "So I feel more involved."
Hailey said he learned quite a bit from Jack last season, who pushed him to compete in practice last year and become a better player.
With Troy Bell graduating from Boston College in the spring, Hailey sees a great opportunity next winter in Chestnut Hill.
"I think people are a little concerned about my size, playing in the Big East," said the 6-0, 170 pound point guard. "There are some real good point guards that I will have to play against in that league next year."
And like he learned from Jack last year, he is hoping to take some pointers this year by studying game tapes of Bell, perhaps the top returning guard in the Big East Conference this winter.
"I am working on shooting it off the dribble and utilizing screens," he said. "Watching Troy Bell play, he catches and shoots it off screens a lot."
"I watch him a lot to see what they are going to have me do there," he continued. "So I am learning from him."