Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Daily.
By David Cordova
In an era when many of New York City’s marquee names navigate towards prep school or closer states such as New Jersey and Connecticut, there are many underrated players that still hold down their own in the five boroughs.
Outside of the players that people already know, there are hidden gems in the Big Apple that many do not know about. One player that many may have overlooked in the past, but now know, is Larry Moreno.
The 6-foot guard out of Brooklyn Law & Tech High School has been one of the most consistent scoring threats in the PSAL the last couple of years and has been a force to be reckoned with.
“Well, I started playing basketball when I was little and whenever I played a game, I always took it serious and I hated to lose, so my motivation is the fact that I just don’t want to lose.” said Moreno.
When asked about being from the borough of Brooklyn, he added: “I didn’t really come from a neighborhood that was really tough or something like that, but coming from Brooklyn, you build up a lot of toughness and you build up that attitude, like, ‘I’m not scared of nobody,’ you understand what I mean. It’s like, whoever wants to go at you, you just want to go at them, it don’t matter who it is.”
Moreno hails from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, but also spent time growing up around Bushwick. Another interesting fact is he is also known by some as the Dominican Mamba. He goes by that nickname as a way to pay homage to former NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant and because he is of Dominican descent.
When asked about his overall game, he replied, “My strength, I can shoot. My weakness is, right now, my right hand is not as strong as my left, and I gotta start using my pull-up [jumper] more, decision-making and defense. Mainly defense.”
Unlike many of his peers around the city, Moreno chose to attend a smaller school in Law & Tech, in which he played for veteran coach Kenny Pretlow, a legendary figure in New York City high school & AAU circles, and Michael Levy.
Under Levy and Pretlow, the Jets have been one of the most formidable programs in the PSAL Brooklyn A division, as they have gone 36-0 in the last two seasons. But it was a far cry from where the program first started when Moreno arrived.
When asked about his four years at Law & Tech, Moreno replied, “My four years at Law & Tech was fun. My first year, we ain’t really go nowhere, we ain’t even make the playoffs. That was one of my main motivations, because the fact that we didn’t make the playoffs, I wanted to come out stronger and better, make my team better. So when I was in tenth grade, I became one of the main players on my team and we wound up going to the Elite Eight, then when I was a junior, we we went to the ‘chip, everybody expected us to win and we didn’t do our job in the second half.”
As Law & Tech rose every year, so did his performance. As a junior, he averaged 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, as he led the Jets to a 27-5 record, and a berth in the PSAL A city championship game, where they would lose on a buzzer-beating layup to Walton High School of the Bronx, 58-57.
The loss would bring motivation to Moreno as his senior season rolled around. Throughout his final campaign, he racked up some high-scoring totals in many games this season, including a 51-point game against Automotive High School in a 104-45 win on January 29th.
“I come into every game, like, I understand that teams be game planning for me, but I honestly feel like nobody can really, like, stop me from scoring, especially if my teammates get involved, ’cause then that means there’s one man on me, so I take that personal, when somebody’s on me, cause I feel like they can’t stop me,” said Moreno about his competitive nature.
He also feels like his teammates are also critical to his success on the court. “But I need my teammates to do the job. If my teammates do their job, it makes it easier for me. And that’s the reason why I’ve been able to score a lot.”
Moreno also credits the fiery Pretlow and Levy for helping to keep him grounded, “Kenny Pretlow is like a father to me. And like, he wants the best out of everybody, and he’s going to coach you hard and I really appreciate him for that. I really appreciated the fact that I’m being coached by Coach Kenny and Levy. They were always there for me and they taught me how to play basketball, basically.”
With a player doing what he’s been doing on the court for the Jets, he admits that he was always asked why he didn’t go to a bigger school. “A lot of people look at me and they be like, ‘Why I don’t play for another school,’ and like blah, blah, blah. They don’t understand that I came from Law and Tech and I came from Kenny [Pretlow]. He’s the reason why I’m as good as I am.”
This season, he scored the 2,000th point of his high school career on March 8th in the second round of the PSAL A city playoffs. When asked about that historic moment, Moreno replied, “Now that I look back at it, this is like, huge to me, ’cause that’s a lot of points, but when we was going into the playoffs, they was talking to me about scoring 2,000, but that’s not my main goal right now, but that’s a good accomplishment for me.”
On March 18th, he led the Jets to the school’s first-ever PSAL A city title, winning 83-57, over Theodore Roosevelt Campus of The Bronx, at Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St. John’s University in Queens and a berth in the New York State Federation semifinals, where they would lose to Albany Academy, 83-61, on March 24th, in Glens Falls, New York.
Now that Moreno’s high school career with the Jets has come to a close, he has one thing to look forward to: playing Division I basketball in college. Last October, Moreno committed to St. Francis College in downtown Brooklyn, where he will be playing for head coach Glenn Braica, who just finished his eighth season at the helm. Moreno is the third player from Law & Tech to attain a Division I scholarship. The other two were Matt Scott, who recently finished his senior season at Niagara University and Mikko Johnson, who redshirted this season due to injury at St. Peter’s University and will have four years of eligibility remaining, starting next season.
Moreno’s recruitment was different from others, being that he didn’t have many offers before then. Then the Terriers came in, and made an offer he couldn’t refuse: the chance at a scholarship, which included a free education and the chance to play basketball at a level that many dream of.
“Honestly, whoever offered me first, I was going to take it,” said Moreno about his recruitment. “I wasn’t gonna wait for no other offers. It’s not like, I’m not about to sit here and say I had a lot of offers, like only two schools were looking at me, it was St. Francis and Niagara. I was talking to my mom about it, and Niagara was supposed to come, like the following week or something, but I honestly felt like St. Francis was a school like my school, it’s a small school. Like, all the focus is gonna be on you, and the fact that I’m going to stay home and be around everybody that I love, that’s one of the reasons why I chose to stay home.”
In an illustrious career that brought him 2,124 points at Law & Tech and made him someone worth recognition, here’s how Moreno wants his legacy to be remembered, “I want my legacy to be one of the best players to come out of Law & Tech. There’s players like Mikko Johnson and Matt [Scott], they’re playing D-I basketball, but I feel like, I had the best career at Brooklyn Law & Tech.”
On being the third player from the school to earn a Division I scholarship: “It feels great. I honestly never came into high school like, ‘Oh, I’m going to be a Division I basketball player, but I watched Matt. Matt kind of inspired me to want to be a Division I basketball player, and I feel like I could be just as good, so making it to D-I is actually like an honor to me, especially at my height, it’s not that easy to make it to D-I, ’cause people are more bigger and physical, and it’s just, it’s an honor to me.”
As for what can be expected for him next season with the Terriers, which return rising redshirt senior Glenn Sanabria and rising sophomores Chauncey Hawkins, Josh Nicholas and Jalen Jordan, the Northeast Conference All-Rookie Team selection, here’s Moreno’s take on things, “I’m just hoping to have a great career at St. Francis, and we have a great team over there.”
When he steps on the floor at the Generoso Pope Athletic Complex next season, he won’t be known as the Dominican Mamba, he’ll just be known as Larry Moreno, freshman.
Highlights of Larry Moreno:
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