MARION, Mass. – There’s a feeling of newness at Tabor Academy, a school that once upon a time was among the best in New England. It was only a decade ago that they were winning NEPSAC championships back in the days of Jermaine Watson and Torin Francis, along with a host of good supporting players. The landscape is very different, with Tabor now being in the new Class A, but thoughts of contending for a championship are very much there for Chris Millette’s team.
Part of the newness is obvious once you step onto the court. The floor is new, and there is new lighting in the building. It was done this past off-season in addition to work done on the athletic fields right behind the facility, so there is something of a new lease on life at the school right by the water near Cape Cod.
Another part of the newness is in the personnel, and that starts with the big off-season addition in Jarred Reuter (6’8″ Fr. PF, Rochester (MA)). The big and skilled forward spent last season at St. Mark’s, but is now commuting to school a short drive from his hometown, which means he’s with his family and reunited with his long-time best friend. He can be a nice stretch power forward in addition to posting up, and he’s a fine passer who can occasionally score like he did with a pump fake and drive for a layup. While he can handle the ball better than your average post player, he has no speed with the ball and a long release on his jumper, although he shot the ball well.
The next biggest name on the team is Dimitry Coronel (6’5″ Sr. SF, East Boston (MA)), an excellent student who also has Division I potential. While talented and very athletic, Coronel has never had a very good feel for the game and at times his body language is nonchalant. His body is relatively mature, although it can still get better, but because of his athleticism his strength is being a scorer. When he went to the basket on Sunday, he was unstoppable, as he finished well including with the left hand, including one time when he did that right over Reuter. While he can make a jumper, he tends to settle for those shots instead of taking them in the flow of the offense.
Josh Downes (6’4″ Sr. SF) figures to be another key frontcourt player, and he shined on Sunday. Constantly battling, his motor never stops running and he moves very well without the ball, and he’s a fine complement for this team. He has some offensive skills and can finish in close, but hasn’t been much of a shooter, altough he hit a few from long range later.
Tevin Montgomery (6’4″ Jr. SF-PF), who plays on the defensive line for the football team, did not work out but was in the gym for some of the workout. He and Thomas Tarrant, a junior forward with some size, will also get minutes in the frontcourt.
Floor leader Chris Mendes (5’10” Sr. PG) was the team captain last year and will be again this year. He struggled to score early in Sunday’s workout, but had a late three-pointer that helped him end on a good note. One other senior is also a point guard, Oscar Wang (5’9″ Sr. PG), who did not work out on Sunday.
Among those who will play off the ball is C.J. Ward (5’10” Jr. PG-SG), a lefty who can shoot out to three-point range. While he looked good shooting in early drills, he struggled with his jumper during a good deal of the game action. A.J. Maestas (6’0″ So. PG-SG) is Reuter’s long-time friend and a complementary player on the perimeter, and after being the seventh man last year should have a significant role this year. He made a couple of nice touch passes on the fast break and was generally very good in transition. Morgan Dawicki, a skinny and baby-faced sophomore guard, is also in the mix.
Tabor Academy doesn’t have quite the talent it had about a decade ago, when they would send 3-4 players to Division I including a couple of high-major talents. But as Millette noted, they don’t need quite that level of talent to win where they are, and it’s realistic to think this team can contend. With the new additions to the program of late, it’s clearly headed in the right direction, and contending may not be far away.