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2010 Spring Recap

July 1, 2010 Columns No Comments

Another spring full of basketball has come to a close, and with it, a few things have happened. Some players have proven once again that they are among the best, while some showed they are well on their way to being good players. Unfortunately, some also didn’t play as well as expected or as well as they played before.

One interesting thing that is much like last year is the difference between rising seniors and underclassmen. A year ago, we noted that there appeared to be a relative wealth of talent in the younger classes compared to the class of 2010. Now, that appears to be the case relative to the class of 2011, aided by a variety of players who re-classified back a year and the best New Englander in the class of 2010 (Shabazz Napier) re-classifying back into 2010 and heading to Connecticut for next season.

As was the case last year, this is a look back at players in several different categories largely from around southern New England since that’s where most of the players I observed enough to have a feel for are from. There will be a little from outside of the region as well. Note that players’ class year is listed as the school year they just completed; after this, they will be listed with the class year they are entering in the fall.

Simply the Best

Andre Drummond (6’10” So. PF-C, Middletown (CT) St. Thomas More) After a school season where he wasn’t the same player thanks in part to a September injury, he steadily improved during the spring to where he looked more and more like the player he was last summer. While he’s not quite at that level, he’s back to looking like one of the best players in the class of 2012 and was a big reason Connecticut Basketball Club had a great spring.

Ricardo Ledo (6’6″ So. SG-SF, Providence (RI) St. Andrew’s School) He wasn’t as good as last spring, but Ledo was again one of the best during these months as he shot the ball well from deep and is starting to harness some of the potential he showed a year ago. He’ll attend South Kent next year, which will be important because he’ll have to be a better teammate than he has been thus far.

Nerlens Noel (6’9″ So. C, Everett (MA) High) Although he basically played on one leg all spring, this long big man was dominant often and also showed nice improvement offensively. Whereas he would knock down the occasional mid-range jumper a year ago, he’s now more aggressive and has shown some signs of post scoring ability. Just imagine what he’ll do when he’s fully healthy. Next year, he will attend the Tilton School and repeat his sophomore year.

Naadir Tharpe (6’0″ Jr. PG, Worcester (MA) Brewster Academy) His play this spring was basically a continuation of what he showed during the school season. It was already clear that he could run a team, but he continued to show improvement as a scoring threat, so he’s harder to guard because defenses can’t back off him like they’re playing four on five. He backed off a commitment to Providence and has no shortage of potential suitors as July beckons.

You Know What You’re Getting

Anthony Barry (6’2″ Jr. SG-SF, Milford (MA) High) Effort is never a question with this athletic wing, and he’ll also defend every possession. The only knock is his lack of skills, although he has shown some improvement but still has a ways to go. He will repeat his junior year next year at the Brooks School, and that should only help.

Phil Gaetano (5’11” Sr. PG, Wallingford (CT) Sheehan HS) With him, you’re getting an unselfish point guard who makes others better. He may not be very physically gifted, but there’s something to be said for how he makes everything easier for his team. A post-graduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall is in the future for this excellent student.

Derrick Gordon (6’4″ Jr. SG, Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick’s HS) Simply put, Gordon does things that win games, and it was evident as his team won a couple of tournaments this spring. He was the MVP in the 17-Under at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions, and the thing about his game is that he simply finds a way to score as he’s not a great shooter, not a great athlete or an overpowering physical specimen. He simply knows how to play and win.

Imoh Silas (6’8″ Jr. PF, Plymouth (NH) Holderness Academy) Progress has come at the offensive end, although he’s still a little mechanical with the ball inside. But Silas still has a good motor and has really become a defensive enforcer inside, and that alone will get him interest at the mid-major level and perhaps a little beyond.

Good Improvement

Tavon Allen (6’7″ Sr. SF, New Haven (CT) Hillhouse HS) There weren’t many who had a better spring in New England than this lanky wing, who will do a post-graduate year at Worcester Academy next year. He’s ambidextrous, often shooting jumpers with his left hand and runners off the dribble with his right, and he made those shots quite consistently this spring. With that, he’s coming out from under the radar and a borderline Atlantic 10/Big East prospect.

Dominique Bull (6’3″ So. SG, Worcester (MA) Cushing Academy) He’s been on the radar for so long now, it can be easy to not have a sense of his progress. This spring, he got his body in better shape and looked more athletic, and he got noticeably better at all of the non-scoring aspects of his game.

Kareem Canty (6’0″ Jr. PG, Brooklyn (NY) Bishop Loughlin HS) One of the big reasons the Long Island Lightning had the kind of spring they did was his emergence. He led them to the Hall of Fame title in May in Springfield, then had a large hand in their championship at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions, out-playing the more highly-touted Shane Larkin in an early playoff game.

Dennis Clifford (6’11” Jr. C, Bridgewater (MA) Milton Academy) In the last year, this big man has come a long way. He always had some skills, although a back-to-the-basket game was a little lacking, and the biggest thing was that nature had to take its course physically. Now a stronger post player, he’s more aggressive and looks like a different player. He’s also still on a good upswing as the summer nears.

Kaleb Tarczewski (6’11” So. C, Claremont (NH) St. Mark’s School) There was a lot to like about him beforehand, and he’s a very similar player. The post scoring ability and the physical play are still very much there, but the big difference is he’s more polished, especially defensively. A year ago, he got in his share of foul trouble, but he’s largely avoided that this spring.

Vince Van Nes (6’11” Jr. C, Dorset (England) Northfield Mount Hermon) Back in the fall, it wasn’t clear he would be much of a factor on his deep school team. This spring, he’s become very much a factor, showing the skills he has and also becoming more physical and thus a factor defensively as well as offensively. That will make him one to keep an eye on this summer.

The Jury is Out

Zach Auguste (6’9″ Jr. SF-PF, Marlboro (MA) High) He had his growth spurt, and showed signs of progress all along. While he dominated at times with his school team this year, at other times he got into foul trouble. At the moment he seems a bit in between positions, although the potential is there. This summer will give some indication of whether or not he’ll fulfill the potential one would expect of someone who had a sudden growth spurt. In the fall, he will be at New Hampton Prep, repeating his junior year.

Lutheurson Bonheur (6’0″ Jr. PG, Dorchester (MA) Boston Trinity Academy) There’s always been a lot to like about him, especially his toughness and ability to handle a press. He’s even shown some pretty good athleticism. But his jumper hasn’t improved, limiting his scoring ability, and as such he has plateaued a bit.

Akosa Maduegbunam (6’3″ So. SG, Charlestown (MA) High) There’s no question the potential is there, and he’s shown it at times with a couple of big scoring games. He can shoot, which will grab the interest of college coaches. But the consistency has been severely lacking, which isn’t entirely surprising but can be a bit maddening when knowing what he is capable of.

Quietly Solid

Pat Connaughton (6’4″ Jr. SG-SF, Arlington (MA) St. John’s Prep) He doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but he can flat-out play the game and is capable of filling a stat sheet. Although he can put up a lot of points, he’s far from selfish and has shown he can win games.

Shaquille Jones (6’4″ So. SG-SF, Providence (RI) Hope HS) In some respects, he’s the quintessential BABC player right now in that he plays very well within the team concept and by himself might not stand out at first. He’s an above-average athlete, isn’t spectacular and doesn’t have one thing he does that he hangs his hat on, but he does a lot of things well and shines on his team.

Georges Niang (6’7″ So. PF, Methuen (MA) Tilton School) The reason he has emerged is simple: he knows what he is. He finds the ball at both ends and puts up good scoring and rebounding numbers as a result. Add in an improved touch from mid-range when he gets shots, and he’s looking like a better prospect, especially if he can continue to improve his conditioning.

Jules Tavares (6’2″ Jr. SG, Wareham (MA) High) This spring, he emerged as one of the better defenders in the region, as he often guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player and had his share of success. His offense is still improving as well and he’s the same unselfish player he was, and he’ll try to continue the improvement next year at Wilbraham & Monson.

Leaving Something to be Desired

Michael Carter-Williams (6’3″ Jr. SG, Hamilton (MA) St. Andrew’s School) While he has improved his in-between game and handles the ball better, it appears that he’s done that at the expense of his shooting, which was what first got him noticed. Lately, he hasn’t shot the ball as well as he once did, although he’s had a few good games. If he can regain a consistent touch to go with his other improvements, he’ll look like a nice get for Syracuse, where he committed.

Trey Jones (5’9″ Jr. PG, Mattapan (MA) Reading Memorial HS) This spring was to be his chance to break out from under the radar, playing with a new team. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite so well, as he wasn’t the pass-first point guard he needs to be, forced up shots and has a shot release that at his size will lead to jumpers getting swatted by good defenders.

Chris Sherwood (6’3″ Jr. SG-SF, Sharon (MA) Brimmer & May School) A year ago, he had a big spring and came a long way. That, and the fact that he’s a great kid, makes it tough to put him here. But this time around, it wasn’t nearly as good, as he had his moments but didn’t have same kind of progress.

Future Stars

Kuran Iverson (6’8″ Fr. SF-PF, Hartford (CT) Northwest Catholic HS) When he figures out the game, he’s going to be a special player. The tools are already there for it to happen: athleticism, scoring off the dribble, long range shooting, and he can own the boards when he wants to. Right now, though, he doesn’t know the game yet, so he tends to settle for jumpers too often, but once he figures that out he’ll be tough to stop.

Kaleb Joseph (6’1″ Fr. PG, Nashua (NH) South HS) Still a baby physically, he’s almost too unselfish at times, especially when he’s making shots like he was at a recent tournament. His passing ability along with his physical gifts make him a solid prospect, but if he develops a consistent jump shot – and he’s a very coachable kid so there’s reason to believe he will – he’ll be very tough to guard.

Jeremy Miller (6’8″ Fr. C, Milton (MA) High) The young big man has a lot of length he will bring to Milton High in the fall, and right now he can use it to block shots and clean up the glass. The biggest thing he’ll need to do to harness the potential he’s shown is get the motor going consistently, as he doesn’t seem to have a great one but can dominate defensively when he wants to.

Ike Ngwudo (6’5″ Fr. SF-PF, Milton (MA) Academy) An intriguing prospect, right now he looks like a combo forward, but he could become much more. If he grows, he could play both spots, but he’s athletic and has some length, along with some decent ball skills, to make one think he could one day be a good small forward.

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