City of New Bedford photo.

New Bedford park’s basketball court dedicated to one of the greatest basketball players in NBHS history


“NEW BEDFORD – Tom Barao grew up on Borden Street, and on most days, headed to Ashley Park to play basketball.

All those days dribbling, shooting, and playing pick-up games paid off as Barao went on to become one of the best basketball players in New Bedford High School history.

The basketball court at Ashley Park was dedicated to Barao on Friday morning as Mayor Jon Mitchell joined family and friends to officially name it the Thomas W. Barao Memorial Basketball Court.

“Tom Barao was a basketball legend in Greater New Bedford, and universally admired on and off the court,” Mayor Mitchell said. “He spent countless hours honing his craft at Ashley Park. That same court fittingly will forever honor his name.”

City of New Bedford photo.

Barao, a 6-foot-3 lefty, scored a then-record 1,544 points in his three varsity seasons from 1965-1968, leading New Bedford High School to back-to-back Greater Boston League Championships in his junior and senior years while being named league MVP both seasons. He went on to play basketball at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Rhode Island before embarking in a career with executive searching firms, including starting his own firm in the 1990s.

After years of coaching his children’s basketball, baseball, and soccer teams, Barao passed away on March 30, 2017.

“Many people in the City and beyond have reached out to me to explain the importance of recognizing Tom Barao at the Ashley Park basketball courts,” City Director of Parks, Recreation and Beaches Mary Rapoza said. “We were pleased to work with Tom’s friends, family, and many admirers to put this memorial in place.”

Plans are being discussed to resurface the court over the next few years, the latest in a line of recent investments in the Goulart Square neighborhood. Earlier this week, Mayor Mitchell cut the ribbon to officially mark the completion of the year-long, $1.7 million renovation of the park with new green space, pathways, lighting, and benches. NorthStar Learning Center is opening a new early education facility nearby with construction visible from Rivet Street, and a new elementary school will be built in the next few years to replace the Congdon and DeValles schools.”-City of New Bedford.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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