Andover's Palermo picks prep route: Warriors starheading to St. Mark's

Apr. 18—For Andover High's Luca Palermo, the conundrum was brutal — dream or team?

"My goal is to play D1 (college) basketball, hopefully at a high level, and from there play professionally somewhere," said the Andover High sophomore, who this past winter earned Merrimack Valley Conference co-MVP in leading the Warriors to the MVC boys hoop title.

In the end, Palermo's dream won out. The two-time all-conference forward has chosen to transfer to St. Mark's School in Southborough.

He will re-classify into the Class of 2027 and repeat his sophomore year.

"St. Mark's is pretty exciting. I feel like it's going to be a good opportunity for me," said Palermo, who was contacted on Thursday night in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he is playing in an AAU tourney with the Mass. Rivals.

"Really, seeing the competition and a lot of good players in the MIAA transferring out to the NEPSAC. I want to see that kind of competition every day.

"I know this is the best thing for my future. I think it offers way more exposure, more opportunity. Being able to live there will help me a lot outside of basketball to grow up and be independent. It's also a different experience, having access to the gym almost 24/7."

The opportunity, of course, comes at a price.

It will be impossible for Palermo to replicate the kind of winter he just went through at Andover.

At just 16 years old, he knows that. Palermo is wise beyond his years in that case.

No more packed houses at Dunn Gym. No more "AHS Jungle," loaded with longtime friends and classmates.

"It was a great time at Andover. I wouldn't have it any other way. I loved playing for Faz and with the guys there," said Palermo. "We knew we were going to surprise a lot of people this winter, they were going to underestimate us.

"It definitely made the winter go faster. We felt so much more like a team. The leaders were great. We all had such a good time this year."

Warrior coach David Fazio will certainly miss the 6-foot-6 power forward. He is the first impact Andover player to leave the program for prep school in his 30-plus years on the bench.

The Vetranos both stayed for all four years. So did the McLaughlins, Joe Bramanti and Aidan Cammann.

But Fazio handled the move with the class you might expect.

"I talked to coach Fazio after the season," said Palermo. "He didn't want me to stay at Andover just for him. He wanted what is best for me."