Athlete of the Month: Tom Doran ’18

photo by Aaron Wu

For many top athletes, technical ability is something that comes naturally. However, other players reach that level through dedication and training habits. Being cut from the John Witherspoon Middle School basketball team had placed Tom Doran ’18 in the latter category.

“After being cut in eighth grade, I worked really hard on my game until I ended up making the freshman team,” Doran said. “I learned how to turn failure into something positive, which really helped me improve.”

Since making the freshman team in 2014, Doran has shown a level of commitment to the sport that has allowed him to reach his full potential, according to teammate Sam Tarter ’18.

“I’ve been playing with Tom since fifth grade when we played on the same club team,” Tarter said. “Many of the other kids that played with us have since dropped basketball [entirely], but Tom has always been 100 percent, and that’s made him one of our top guards.”

That attitude has been reinforced by the coaching style of Doran’s former coach Clarence White, which emphasized a combination of hard work and intelligence.

“Coach White has had a really big impact on my development, [and instilled] the importance of defense and basketball IQ [in me],” said Doran. “Now, shooting three-pointers and playing defense are two of my specialties. People sometimes call me a ‘three-and-d’ player because of that.”

Doran’s most pivotal season came during his sophomore year, as he won the Most Improved Player award for JV and swung up for the varsity team’s post-season tournaments. It was his last year playing for Princeton Basketball Club, which only has programs up until age 16. Using what he had learned from middle school, Doran accepted and took advantage of his circumstances.

“Even though PBC ended, it meant that I could spend time with the older guys who also couldn’t play club,” said Doran. “For example, I looked up to and learned a lot from Matt Hart ’16 when I swung up to varsity and he showed me the importance of being a complete player. ”

Doran’s highlight of last season came when he sunk 15 points in the fourth quarter of a Christmas tournament game against Bridgewater High School, all of which were three-pointers. He ended the season with a total of 48 points to his name, 39 of them coming from outside the arc.

Looking toward the upcoming season, Doran is particularly optimistic about the team’s chemistry as well as the opportunity to be a mentor.

“Playing with guys like Sam, Isaac [Webb ’19], and Michael [Frost ’18] in past years helps build a lot of trust. We know how to read each other’s next moves and play to each other’s strengths, which always helps,” Doran said. “It’s also a lot about earning the trust of the younger guys so that I can make them better every day by helping them develop in the same way former varsity members did for me.”

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