CRANBERRY TWP — His family's coaching tree helped land Isaac DeGregorio a basketball opportunity at the University of Kentucky.
Now he wants to extend it.
DeGregorio, the stellar point guard at North Catholic and son of Trojans varsity head coach Dave DeGregorio, is continuing his academic and basketball career as a preferred walk-on at Kentucky.
“That basically means he's got a spot on the roster,” Coach DeGregorio said.
DeGregorio is averaging nearly 20 points and 6.5 assists per game this season. The Trojans (26-2) are riding a 20-game winning streak and won the WPIAL Class 3A championship.
A 1,500-point scorer in high school, DeGregorio was offered a scholarship by Georgian Court, a Division II school in New Jersey. A number of Division III schools offered him playing opportunities as well.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was a point guard a Clarion University, where he played for Isaac's grandfather, Joe DeGregorio.
“Growing up in the gym, basketball has been my whole life,” Isaac said. “I want to go into coaching and Kentucky's the perfect place to go.
“Of course, I still want to play. I know the odds are against me there. I'll be competing with some of the best players in the country just to get on the floor, but I'll take on that challenge.”
DeGregorio is one of five preferred walk-ons recruited by Kentucky this season. He has been a productive 3-point shooter the past two years and is considered one of the top players in WPIAL 3A.
North Catholic led all of the WPIAL in scoring this season, averaging 79 points per game.
“I know Isaac wants to follow in our footsteps,” Dave DeGregorio said, referencing himself and his father. “He's going to be playing for a Hall of Fame coach for four years. He'll be going to the NCAA Tournament.
“He's going to learn a different system, new terminology, training and conditioning. The experience will be tremendous for him. This is a great opportunity.”
Joe DeGregorio was 159-67 as Clarion University basketball coach from 1974-82. His teams finished first in the PSAC West five times.
A member of the Clarion University Athletic Hall of Fame, he also served as an assistant coach under Dr. Roy Chipman at Pitt and was head coach at Upper St. Clair High School.
Dave DeGregorio is 47-8 in two years at North Catholic. He's also been a head coach at South Allegheny, Pine-Richland and North Allegheny.
“I'd prefer to coach in college, but I'd take high school, anything ... as long as I can make a living at it,” Isaac said.
He is undecided on his major. He is very decided about wanting to resume his high school playing career as North Catholic is a quarterfinalist in the presently shut down PIAA tournament.
“Of course I want to finish this out,” he said of the tournament. “Having already played your last high school game — without knowing it was your last game at the time — would be the worst way for a senior to go out.
“I'm willing to wait as long as it takes. We all are.”
Kentucky has won eight NCAA championships, the most recent in 2012. The Wildcats are 2,293-706-1 all-time, including 594-69 in 43 years at Rupp Arena.
“The kid loves the game. He wants to make a career of it,” Isaac's father said. “I certainly can't blame him for that. It runs in the family.”