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Looking Back at Prep School Open Gyms

October 9, 2010 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops 4 Comments

The fall live period for Division I coaches has come and gone. Along the way, I made a trip to 16 prep schools, twice hitting St. Mark’s since they only have two open gyms that each draw a number of college coaches. It started with an early morning drive to the Tilton School on the ninth anniversary of a day no one in America will forget, and ended with the second trip to St. Mark’s this past Sunday.

A story on each school visited is already here. Now, here’s a look back in light of all that I’ve learned in the last month.

Most talented team: Brewster Academy. South Kent and Notre Dame Prep have very good arguments, with Notre Dame Prep being perhaps the deepest team.

Best workout: Notre Dame Prep. For an hour and a half, this team really got after it and several players had a good workout at both ends of the floor.

Sleeper team: Worcester Academy. The Hilltoppers are now in Class AA after competing in the old Class A for a long time, and they have a team with a couple of capable wings and guards with some potential.

Wild card team: Northfield Mount Hermon. They have the most size, which is well-documented, and that gives them a lot of options as to how they can play. Helping out in that respect is the improving skill level of forwards like Evan Cummins and Tommy Carpenter, who give them nice versatility at their positions to complement the big men.

Who helped their recruitment the most? Without question, Nikolas Stauskas of St. Mark’s gets the nod here. He was the best player on the floor in both of the team’s open gym workouts, can legitimately play all three perimeter positions and also did well covering Alex Murphy at the defensive end despite giving up some size.

Most improved player (same school last year): James Kennedy of Cushing Academy. Arguments can be made for Aaron Cosby (Northfield Mount Hermon) and Kaleb Tarczewski (St. Mark’s), but Cosby is still more of a scorer than a playmaker and Tarczewski was already thought of as a pretty good prospect but now doesn’t get in the foul trouble he used to. Kennedy, on the other hand, looked a bit between positions last year at this time but is now in much better shape physically and the skill package, while still needing work, looks better as well.

Best freshman: Prep schools are known for their veterans, especially post-graduates, but there’s a pretty good crop of true freshmen that I observed in September. Getting the nod here is Kevin Zabo of St. Mark’s, but he had some stiff competition as teammate Jarred Reuter and Cushing Academy’s Idris Taqqee are also players to keep an eye on.

Craziest trip: On one Wednesday, I first drove to the South Kent School, then Northfield Mount Hermon. That was pretty ambitious, but seemed like it could be done. The only problem is that instead of taking the straightforward route I had in mind, I tried an idea a coach had, which was to go north on Route 7 from South Kent to the Mass. Turnpike and go from there. It seemed like a reasonable idea, except for one thing: it took an hour and a half to get to the Mass. Pike! The upshot, I suppose, is that I saw more of the Housatonic River on that one day than I have in my entire life prior to that day.

Easiest trip: This one is a no-brainer – Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy in the same day, with both schools a short drive apart.

Which school did I not get to see and thus will eagerly await a chance to see in the season? Hotchkiss School.

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Great read Phil. While your car may not be thanking you, these trips certainly gave us all a great read for how Prep School ball will look next year.

  2. Mike says:

    You should consider visiting Phillips Academy Andover, Mass. NEPSAC Class A squad. They have 3 prospects listed on the NERR site and the college coaches show up every Thursday afternoon to watch these academic elites play ball. This program is up and coming having won the prestigious Bradner Tournament in the summer defeating varsity squads such as Central Catholic, Lawrence, Andover, North Andover,
    Lynn English, Westford, etc. Check out NERR website to learn more about some of the AAU talented players coming to school from Visionary Basketball Club, New England Storm, Mass & NH Rivals Programs. Phillips Academy Andover also plans a strong schedule playing teams like Worcester Academy, Tilton, Phillips Exeter, and NMH this winter.

  3. funkalot says:


    Very insightful. Can you tell us more about the St. Mark’s kid Stauskas. Was he there last year? If so, he was very non-descript. What is his recruiting like?

    Also, Who is the stud of studs in New England prep ball?

  4. ballnation says:

    Nik Stauskas (Canadian) is playing his first year at St. Mark’s this year. He currently has offers from Butler, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Stanford. There are approximately 25 schools recuiting him.

    There are several videos of him up on YouTube.

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