Kaleb Joseph had just realized his life-long dream. He had signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at Syracuse University.

And now he was a little lost.

"He's an incredibly thoughtful kid,'' Barry Connors, Joseph's coach at Cushing Academy, said. "He has a tendency to sometimes over-think things. The day he signed at Syracuse, he had realized his dream. He had wanted to go there since the 6th grade and it happened. I think it freaked him out a little bit.''

Shortly after that feeling of drifting in space, Joseph focused on a new goal.

As a junior, he had helped Cushing Academy, a private school located in Ashburnham, Mass., to the New England Prep School Athletic Conference championship. Now a senior, Joseph wanted to lead the Penguins to a second title.

Last Sunday, Joseph scored 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out seven assists and came up with two steals to lead the Penguins to their second consecutive NEPSAC championship with a 78-70 win over Kimball Union Academy.

"He was absolutely terrific,'' Connors said. "He had one turnover on our first possession. He played the next 31 minutes without a turnover. He played the most complete basketball game he's ever played for me.''

Connors has been coaching Joseph since he arrived at Cushing Academy as a freshman.

"He was 6 feet tall, 150 pounds and had the biggest Coke-bottle glasses you ever saw,'' Connors said. "He just didn't look the part. At one point, they were calling him the Bookworm Assassin.''

In his first meeting with Connors, Joseph had just one question.

"Do you think I'm good enough to play at Syracuse?'' Joseph asked.

"I said 'I think you're good enough, but are you going to do what it takes to get there?''' Connors replied. "For three years, his work-ethic was insatiable. All he did was work and work and work. He had a chip on his shoulder. You know how kids read the internet reports and the rankings. He wanted to prove he was better.''

Joseph, a 6-2 guard, became a Top 50-rated prospect in the Class of 2014. He committed to Syracuse last August and signed with the Orange in November.

After reaching one goal, he established a new one and became Cushing's leader.

"This fall he was the same way, pursuing that goal he had set for himself,'' Connors said. "Just leading the kids.''