FITCHBURG, Mass. – As is often the case, depth will not be a problem for Notre Dame Prep this season. Head coach Ryan Hurd basically has two teams and the option to play a couple of styles. He has a pretty good idea what he’ll do with this team, though, and it’s push the pace since he has plenty of guards.
There is plenty of depth at the point, but manning the spot the most will likely be Jaylen Brantley (5’10″ Sr. PG, Springfield (MA)) and Jarvis Garrett (5’11″ Sr. PG, West Allis (WI)). Brantley has a more mature body and was more aggressive trying to drive than he usually is, and the results were excellent. He finished well and still found teammates, and remains deadly if left open from long range. Garrett has a good body and the confidence a good floor leader needs.
The rest of the depth begins with Jordan Washington (5’11″ Sr. PG, Dallas (TX)), who doesn’t pass the look test and could stand to lose a little weight but was effective on the afternoon. There is also Curtis Mack (5’10″ Sr. PG, Chester (PA)), who has some range on his jumper, Jermaine Chisholm (5’11″ Sr. PG, Toronto (Ont.)) and Ulrich Kontchon (6’0″ Sr. PG-SG, Cameroon) in the mix. Kontchon is in just his second year of playing organized basketball.
The wing has no shortage of candidates for playing time. A’Jen English (6’1″ Sr. PG-SG, Middletown (DE)) has an older brother who played at St. Thomas More last season and has quickly made an impression in Fitchburg. The lefty has a good frame and was around the ball often, and he looked like he might occasionally bring the ball up. The one knock on him was a few questionable shots he took, but in all he looks like he’ll be an integral part of what they do.
Kevin “K.J.” Pritchard (6’5″ Sr. SG-SF, Lawrence (KS)) is the son of Indiana Pacers General Manager Kevin Pritchard and plays like someone who’s been around the game a lot. He was active and showed a little touch shooting the ball. Donnell Munda (6’4″ Sr. SF, Toronto (Ont.)) has a good frame and showed a good shooting touch out to long range as well, including a jumper off the dribble. An intriguing prospect on the wing is Haboubacar Mutumbo (6’5″ Sr. SG-SF, Toronto (Ont.)), the nephew of former NBA big man Dikembe Mutombo. He has a relatively mature body and shot the ball well from long range during the workout.
Austin Lebo (6’2″ Sr. SG, Syosset (NY)) and Alex Akpo (6’2″ Sr. SG, Vancouver (B.C.)) are also available at shooting guard.
The frontcourt doesn’t have a lot of post bodies, but there is some talent there. It starts with Jamel Artis (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF, Baltimore (MD)), who has a solid upper body among his physical gifts. He wasn’t the biggest factor on this day, but he’s shown himself to be a high-major talent. Roger Mbah a Moute (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF, Cameroon) is the younger brother of former UCLA forward Luc Richard and plays like his brother. His feel for the game is excellent, he rebounded well and will guard his man. When his body matures, he’ll be that much better, although his lack of strength didn’t hurt him on Tuesday.
A pair of New Yorkers are also in the frontcourt, with Travis Charles (6’6″ Sr. PF, Brooklyn (NY)) playing more on the post and Jarrel Marshall (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF, Mount Vernon (NY)) likely to play some of both forward spots. Charles has a good frame and a mature body, and while he’ll probably play more inside he did have a nice drive he finished while fouled. Marshall is lanky and athletic and needs to get stronger, but he’s capable of scoring from within about 15 feet.
Tyree Robinson (6’3″ So. SF-PF, Fall River (MA)) wasn’t a big factor on the day and needs to transition his game to be more of a wing. Jaquel Taft (6’4″ Sr. SG-SF, Greenville (NC)) has a good frame and had some good moments at the offensive end.
Anchoring the inside will be another Canadian, Matthew Atewe (6’9″ Sr. PF-C, Toronto (Ont.)), a well-built post player and a plus athlete. Although he hit a long jumper facing the hoop, he lacks the ball skills to play the wing. Hurd said if Atewe keeps things simple, he can very good inside.
Notre Dame Prep will soon finalize their schedule, which will once again be a busy one as they are an independent. There will be plenty of minutes to go around, but managing this many players will still be a challenge. As Hurd knows what he wants to do with them, it will likely be a pleasant challenge to try to tackle.