HOUSTON — Matt Kronenberg had a men’s league game to get to on Thursday evening in New York City.

The former Wilton Higher All-Stater nonetheless loves to hoop anytime he can.

“Gotta scratch that itch somehow,” he mentioned.

Kronenberg’s former AAU teammate, Joey Calcaterra, had a slightly larger game to prepare for.

Calcaterra, a.k.a. Joey California, will be playing the Final 4 on Saturday, when the the UConn men’s basketball group faces Miami at NRG Stadium (eight:49 p.m., CBS).

No doubt, Kronenberg and Calcaterra have taken divergent paths from when they have been teammates on the MVP Flight Elite group from fifth via seventh grade out in California’s Bay Region. Somehow, these paths have converged in Connecticut.

Kronenberg, 24, and his loved ones moved from Moraga, Calif. to Wilton back in 2012 right after his father John’s firm moved from San Francisco to Stamford. Kronenberg earned initial-group All-FICAC and second-group All-State honors for the Wilton Higher basketball group. A five-foot-9 point guard, he could have played Division III basketball, but “went the academic route” alternatively, in the end earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Michigan. He now functions in digital marketing in Manhattan.

Calcaterra spent 4 years playing at San Diego just before transferring this season the UConn men’s basketball group, exactly where he’s develop into a veritable folk hero, replete with a “Joey California” line of apparel.

“It is amazing to see him show out. It is insane,” Kronenberg mentioned. “Seeing it from afar, it is definitely extraordinary. He was normally one particular of the far better players (in AAU), and he turned out to be possibly the greatest player of all of us.”

Certainly, Calcaterra led Group MVP Elite to a number of AAU tournament titles up and down the West Coast, such as the Nike Health club Rats tournament and the California State Games.

“Joey’s had a very good attitude,” Kronenberg’s mother, Charissa, recalled. “He was normally challenging-functioning.”

When the Kronenbergs moved to Wilton, they largely lost touch with the Calcaterra loved ones, save for an occasional Christmas card. But it hasn’t prevented a virtual Six Degrees of Joey Calcaterra with the Kronenberg loved ones.

Right after graduating from Wilton  in 2017, Matt initial went out to attend Santa Clara University. His freshman year roommate went to higher college with Calcaterra.

When San Diego came up to play Santa Clara in a West Coast Conference game, Kronenberg went to see his former AAU teammate play. Alas, Calcaterra was redshirting as a freshman and did not play.

Final spring, Matt Kronenberg was perusing Instagram when he saw a surprising post from Calcaterra.

“Mom, you will never ever think this: Joey’s gonna play at UConn!”

“My jaw dropped,” Charissa recalled.

The Kronenbergs weren’t capable to get to a UConn game throughout the normal season, but watched each and every game intently.

“We have been glued to that Television,” Charissa reported. “Each time Joey came off the bench, we have been crossing our fingers: ‘Hit that three!.'”

Calcaterra leads the Huskies in three-point shooting this season at 43.9 %.

The Kronenbergs lastly got to reunite with the Calcaterras at the Massive East tournament a handful of weeks ago. They intended to head up to UConn’s initial and second round games up in Albany, N.Y. but, ironically, have been out to California alternatively.

Nevertheless, they watched the games and rooted for Calcaterra and the Huskies — sort of. The Kronenbergs applied to reside about a mile from Saint Mary’s College, UConn’s second-round opponent. Matt’s uncle attended the college.

On top rated of that, Saint Mary’s assistant coach Justin Joyner coached the Kronenberg’s younger son, Nick, in AAU.

“I was conflicted,” Charissa admitted.

UConn rolled more than Saint Mary’s by 15, then faced Arkansas in a Sweet 16 bout in Las Vegas. Arkansas coach Eric Musselman’s son, Matt, was Nick’s teammate on that very same AAU group.

“Smaller planet,” Charissa mentioned, just before noting UConn’s 23-point victory. “I guess Eric can retain his shirt on this year.”

The Kronenbergs went out to Dallas for the 2014 Final 4, but will not make it out to Houston this year. John Kronenberg will be at the Masters. Charissa will be watching on Television, probably bedecked in “Joey California” gear, rooting from Wilton for some three-pointers off the bench from Matt’s former AAU teammate from California.

Smaller planet, certainly. But it is also Joey California’s planet, and we’re all just living in it.

david.borges@hearstmediact.com @DaveBorges

By Editor

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