WASHBURN, Maine — Mitchell Worcester’s consideration of his college basketball future had the ebb and flow of the most competitive high school tournament contest.
There was the seemingly pragmatic option of enrolling at one of the many Division III schools throughout Maine and beyond that had shown considerable interest in the 2013 Mr. Basketball finalist.
Then there was the chance to pursue the sport at an even higher level with no guarantees.
Worcester this week opted for the latter, deciding to attend the University of Maine next fall with the goal of walking on to the Black Bears’ basketball team.
“It’s always been my dream to play at the Division I level,” said Worcester, a guard who led Washburn to four consecutive Class D postseason appearances.
“I definitely went back and forth with this decision, but what it came down to was this is what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Worcester, who has been accepted into the university’s athletic training studies program, plans to redshirt athletically during his first year on the Orono campus as he works to build up his strength for the physical rigors of Division I basketball.
He’s already working with a physical trainer based at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and is in the second week of a 3,500-calorie-per-day diet in an effort to add 20 to 25 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-3-inch, 165-pound frame.
“One thing I need to do is work on my body more to give myself a chance to play Division I,” said Worcester, “because I’m probably not strong enough yet for the physicality of that level.”
Worcester will bring an impressive athletic resume to coach Ted Woodward’s University of Maine program, ending his high school career as the second-leading boys basketball scorer in state history with 2,297 points — second only to the 2,306 points scored by Vinalhaven’s Raymond Alley during the late 1980s.
“Mitch came into high school at 5-foot-9 and now he’s 6-3, and the great thing about that is that he was a ‘1’ [point guard] player for us at 5-9 and he’s still a ‘1’ at 6-3 even though he had to play all five positions for us this winter because we needed him to do that for us to be successful,” said Washburn coach Randy Norsworthy. “But his height at [point guard] will help him at that level, as will his ability to shoot the perimeter shot.”
Worcester’s offensive success stemmed in part from that long-range shooting accuracy, which enabled him to set Class D tournament records for most 3-pointers in a game (eight) and in a tournament (13) during his sophomore year at Washburn.
Worcester averaged 32.3 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and three steals per game as a senior while leading the Beavers to a 19-2 record and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class D semifinals where they were outlasted in overtime by Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, the eventual regional champion.
“His scoring is a given,” said Norsworthy, “and it’s not just his shooting. He can also penetrate and pull up and he’s quite quick, his foot speed is deceptive.”
The four-year honor roll student also has an extensive AAU basketball background with Black Bear North and the Maine Athletic Club. He played on a Maine state championship team in both 2010 and 2011, and three times his teams advanced to national tournament competition with top-eight finishes in 2010 and 2011.
Worcester said he was encouraged about seeking to compete at the Division I level after conversations he had with Woodward.
“I visited coach Woodward twice and talked to him a few times, and he said he’d love to have me with the team and that he thinks I can make it,” said Worcester. “He likes my height for my position and that I can shoot the basketball.”
Woodward cannot comment on Worcester’s decision to attempt to walk on to the Black Bears’ roster due to NCAA regulations.
Worcester plans to room at UMaine with good friend Garet Beal of Jonesport-Beals, who already has accepted an athletic scholarship to join the Black Bear men’s basketball program this fall.
“We’ll be taking some of the same classes this fall, too,” said Worcester, “so that should help making getting used to college easier for both of us.”
Worcester and Beal will be teammates this weekend at the 12th annual Moosabec Youth Soccer Men’s Basketball Tournament to be held at Jonesport-Beals High School.
Carrington Miller, a 6-3 senior guard from Upper Kennebec Valley High School in Bingham, has committed verbally to continue his basketball career next winter at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.
Miller, a 1,000-point career scorer, averaged 16.5 points a game and 5.8 rebounds per game this winter in leading the Cavaliers to a 17-4 record and a berth in the Western Maine Class D championship game.
He has been recognized as an East-West Conference all-star and a Maine McDonald’s East-West Senior all-star.
“There were many different reasons why I picked CM,” said Miller, who also has participated in varsity baseball, soccer and track at Valley. “For one, I have heard a lot of great things about how well they transfer kids out of CM. I met a lot of people during my visit and they were all generous and willing to help me out. My brother played at CM and I have heard nothing but good things from him about this college. I think this will be a great fit for me.”
Miller also is the valedictorian of his class at Valley and involved in the student senate and National Honor Society.
He joins Katahdin of Stacyville forward Colton Bivighouse as a member of CMCC’s basketball recruiting class.
“We had a targeted list of nine players when the year began, and Carrington was high on that list,” said CMCC men’s basketball coach Dave Gonyea. “He has a huge upside and will develop into a major player for our program. The goal is to prepare him for the next level because that’s where he’s going.”