Al Frederick was a Forward for the UConn Huskies from 1983 - 1985. In
October of 2004, I had the opportunity to talk to Al about his time at
UConn and his European basketball experiences.
When Al was eight years old, his grandmother bought him a red, white and
blue basketball for Christmas, and he’s been playing basketball ever
since. He played in youth leagues, played in junior high school, and went
to West Hill High School in Stamford, CT. He played on the junior varsity
team as a junior, and was also on the varsity team, but didn’t play much.
During his junior year the team lost in the semi finals of the state
championship. It was their year to win but the other team threw up a shot
at the buzzer that went in, and Al’s team lost. While in his senior year,
Al played on the varsity team, and that is when he really became a star,
averaging 30 points a game, making All State and All City teams. The team
won the City Championship but again didn’t win the State Championship that
While in high school, Al was recruited mostly by Division II colleges. “I
really wanted to play Division I, and in the Big East which was one of the
best conferences to play in. I thought I had the skills to play Division I
so I decided to go to Mattatuck Junior College in Waterbury, CT for two
years.” Al’s most memorable games at Mattatuck were the games they lost
because they didn’t lose that many. One loss was a game that if they had
won they could have gone to the regionals of the Junior College
Championship Tournament. In two seasons with Mattatuck, Al scored over
1,200 points in fewer than 50 games for a 25-point average. He led the
school to an overall 47-2 record and pulled down an average nine rebounds,
and had four assists per game.
Al was playing very well at Mattatuck, and UConn became interested in him
as a Junior College Transfer. His coach at Mattatuck, Bob Ruderman,
thought it would be good for Al to stay in-state so his family could watch
him play, and Al’s former high school coach, Lou Orlando, was a former
UConn basketball player so he had positive things to say about UConn. Al
decided to take a recruiting visit to UConn which would be his first time
visiting the school. He enjoyed his visit, and with the people surrounding
Al suggesting he go to UConn, he chose it.
It was a big transition going from the Junior College to UConn. The focus
was no longer only on Al. There were a lot of good players at UConn, and
Al had to earn his reputation. “I enjoyed it. I made good friends, I did
my best, and I did what the coach asked me to do.” Al’s most memorable
game while at UConn was a game against Villanova when he scored a career
high 24 points. Al enjoyed playing at UConn. “It was like a family.
Everybody was together. Coach Perno (former head basketball coach) was a
very caring coach. He was well-liked and respected.”
After Uconn, Al played in the United States Basketball League, a summer
league for three seasons, and went to Europe to play for 14 years. He
played in Argentina for three years, Chile for four years, and Brazil for
seven years. While in Europe, Al’s teams won State Championships but
winning the nationals was difficult. When he first arrived in Europe it
wasn’t easy. He didn’t know another language, and didn’t quite know what
he was getting himself in to, however once he started playing basketball
he met up with players he knew from the United States, and the situation
became easier. While in Europe, Al enjoyed one game where he scored 49
points. He averaged 23-24 points, and eight rebounds per game. While in
Brazil his team won the Brazilian National League Championship in 1994.
“We really didn’t have stars; we just had a team that played together. We
surprised everybody winning the whole thing.” His last year playing, his
team went pretty far nationally but lost in the semi finals.
After 14 years in Europe, Al made a family decision to come back to the
United States to join his wife and daughter. It was time to hang up his
basketball sneakers, and begin working on the next phase of his life.
He came back, and for the past four years he’s worked as a detention
officer in the Bridgeport Police Department. Al still plays basketball in
pick up games, and still averages 15-16 points per game.
When asked if he still follows UConn basketball Al responded, “Oh yes, I
do. They are doing a great job. Their program went from being mediocre to
being one of the best in the country.” He was surprised that UConn won the
NCAA this year. He thought they could go all the way, they had the talent
to win it but he wasn’t sure they were going to take it all.
Al’s thoughts on the new season are that it will be a little different
learning process without any seniors but they are still going to be
Looking back at his UConn experiences, Al regrets not taking advantage of
the academic opportunity he had at UConn. He didn’t realize the importance
of a college education. Al hopes that kids today understand the
significance of having a career path and what they need to accomplish
while in school.
Al currently lives in Norwalk, CT with his wife, Monique, of ten years.
They have two daughters, Alexis, 10, and Ashley, 6. His daughters are not
interested in sports yet, but they are very academically talented. He said
that maybe they’ll be models because they are gorgeous girls.
Al ended our conversation by saying, “I loved my experience at UConn. If I
had to do it all over again, I would go to UConn again.”