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Wilbraham & Monson Might Have Most Talent Yet

September 30, 2010 Columns 1 Comment

WILBRAHAM, Mass. – The small town of Wilbraham is most famous for a company headquartered there. Drive west on the Mass. Turnpike, and as you enter the town you’re immediately greeted on the eastbound side by a note that it is home to Friendly’s Ice Cream. But these days, that’s not all that’s going on there.

It hasn’t taken Chris Sparks long to build up Wilbraham & Monson Academy. In short order, the former Penn assistant coach has made the program a good destination, and this season he’ll have his most talented team yet.

There are plenty of riches in the backcourt, and that was evident even without a couple of players from that unit present on Monday night. Kamali Bey (6’3″ So. SG, Springfield (MA)) is still out for about another month after breaking his leg several months ago, and still had a noticeable limp while walking around. Jaylen Brantley (5’10” So. PG, Springfield (MA)) had a terrific spring and summer, and had to go home on Monday night instead of staying to work out with the team.

The best player on the floor Monday night was Andrej Pajovic (6’1″ Sr. PG, Podgorica (Montenegro)), who did it at both ends. On several occasions, he picked his man’s pocket and turned it into a fast break layup opportunity, cashing in most of them. But he didn’t stop there, as he shot the ball well from long range and finished once while he was grabbed as he went up.

Another guard who will figure heavily into the mix is Jules Tavares (6’3″ Jr. SG, Wareham (MA)), a very athletic guard who can defend well. While he drove well for layups, including one time where he darted right through the defense, and backed his man in for a short jumper on the box, where he really shined was with his passing. That’s long been an underrated aspect of his game, and with all the options on this team he should thrive in that respect. His jumper was off on the evening, and that’s an area he hasn’t excelled in recently.

Mike Mendes (6’2″ Jr. SG, Wilbraham (MA)) was the victim of many of Pajovic’s steals, but he did hit some mid-range jump shots off the dribble. Scott Watson (6’2″ Sr. SG, Kellyville (Australia)) will also be in the mix in the backcourt.

The frontcourt isn’t lacking in riches as well, starting with Braeden Anderson (6’9″ Sr. SF-PF, Calgary (Alberta)). An athletic forward, he has a good body and showed some good offensive ability, including a mid-range jumper and going by his man for a layup with one dribble.

Helping out will be Austin Pinckney (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF, Philadelphia (PA)), Xavier Branham (6’5″ Sr. SF-PF, Newberry (FL)) and Adam Shrecengost (6’6″ Sr. PF-C, Avon (CT)). Pinckney is well-built but needs to improve the skill package, and a couple of times he turned the ball over by putting it on the floor unnecessarily near the basket. Branham was active and in a lot of plays, is a plus athlete, and the lefty looks like more of an undersized power forward than a wing. His three-point shots generally missed badly, but he did get a nice post basket. Shrecengost is an undersized post player with a mature body.

Two players who will also see time on the wings are among the younger players in the program. K.J. Baptiste (6’4″ So. SF-PF, East Wareham (MA)) returns for his second season and is working on his game away from the basket. The well-built forward showed some better ball skills, although he still has a good deal of work to do in that area. Joe O’Connell (6’5″ So. SF, Hatfield (MA)) will also be in the mix.

Wilbraham & Monson figures to be more than just a competitive team in the new Class AA in NEPSAC this season. They have good size in the frontcourt and plenty of good options in the backcourt, the latter of which normally can go a long way at this level of basketball.

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Another great read Phil! Keep up the hard work.

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