MANSFIELD, Mass. – Last Saturday, the New England Elite 75 Frosh/Soph edition brought together many of the top talents in the region in the younger high school age groups. The day started with freshmen and some eighth graders in the late morning, then the sophomores took us into the early evening as soon as the freshmen were done.
All told, over 250 kids competed on the day, and one thing seemed clear: the first session had better and deeper talent than the second, something many other observers agreed with. That’s a good sign from the standpoint of the younger group having more to build on with more time left in high school, although it can be taken as a sign that the Class of 2015 might not be so deep in the region at this point. That can change, of course, and we’ll see how this class develops before they become upperclassmen in a year.
With that, we take a look at some of the more noteworthy talent at the event.
Brandon Aughburns (6’8″ So. PF, New Milford (CT) Canterbury School) A long forward who shined at this event last year, his body shows some physical maturity although it’s not done developing. While he had his moments, like when he banked a lefty shot from mid-range, he tried to do a little too much at times and his body language wasn’t always good.
Malik Bangura (6’1″ Fr. PG-SG, Brockton (MA) High) A plus athlete who made the all-star game, he had a good showing and it started right away in the box-out drills. He did well there, getting his share of rebounds even against bigger players, and at the offensive end he effectively drove inside and did something few guards do at these events – feed the post.
Terrell Brown (6’6″ Fr. SF-PF, East Providence (RI) St. Andrew’s School) He might epitomize the term “potential” player, as he wasn’t overly effective but is long and lanky and has a frame that can carry more weight. Getting the ball is never easy for a forward at these events, but he did rebound and that’s certainly a plus.
Steven Daley (6’4″ So. SF, West Roxbury (MA) Roxbury Latin School) An athlete with a good frame, his body isn’t there yet, so there’s more potential to come. He’s trying to change positions, and thus far the progress looks good but there’s more needed.
Keneef Danzy (5’10” Fr. PG, Albany (NY) High) A point guard with a good frame, he was able to drive and dish through the defense, something he should get better with as his body matures.
C.J. Davidson (5’10” So. PG, West Haven (CT) Notre Dame HS) Although he has a slight frame, he had no problem battling inside with the big boys, and showed it all along. First, he got his share of rebounds during the box-out drill, then he drove inside often and even finished with contact.
Perry DeLorenzo (6’3″ Fr. SG, Middlebury (VT) Union HS) A wing with a good frame, he had a quietly solid day all in all. He didn’t leap out at you, but he was a consistent factor including his touch from long range.
Keyshaad Dixon (6’1″ Fr. SG, Braintree (MA) High) A baby physically with a decent frame, he’s a plus athlete who impressed more as the first half of the day went on. He finished with contact in addition to being a constant factor, and as his body matures he should only get better in that respect.
Cam Durley (6’6″ So. PF, Tilton (NH) School) A post player with a big body, he battled with Toriola Moses in one game and acquitted himself well. He ran the floor reasonably well and got a stickback, using his big body as much to his advantage as he could. On the down side, he tended to seal with the arm on the low post multiple times, not always getting away with it.
Kent Ellerston (Fr. PF, Beaver Country Day School) He’s a classic example of someone who doesn’t pass the “look” test but manages to be effective. A baby physically, he competed the entire time and found a way to score.
KeAndre Fair (5’9″ Fr. PG, West Simsbury (CT) Masters School) While his body has a ways to go, he has the look of someone who could thrive playing up-tempo basketball in part because he showed very good speed with the ball. He scored in transition and showed he can pass, so the big thing will be to grow as a halfcourt offense leader.
Aaron Falzon (6’6″ So. SF-PF, Newton (MA) St. Mark’s School) He has a good reputation and it is reasonably well-earned, but there were a couple of disconcerting things about his showing here. For one, he wasn’t the factor he can be at both ends, especially near the basket. Also, he didn’t get back on defense a couple of times, which doesn’t always stand out in an event like this but was notable. The offensive skills are good and need continued development.
Wenyen Gabriel (6’4″ So. SG-SF, Manchester (NH) Central HS) Long wing is a baby physically and an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. He missed one stickback but got another one to go shortly thereafter, and parlayed his play into an all-star game appearance.
Juwan Gooding (6’0″ So. PG-SG, Milton (MA) New Mission School) His body has a ways to go, but he had a very good showing here in large part because he did some things he often doesn’t do enough of. For one, he rebounded well in the box-out drill, and later he made some nice passes when he looked to do so. In the past he’s been a bit of a ball hog, although he will hit a good percentage of his shots, but here he found teammates and a couple of times was robbed of assists, a very good sign for the coming season.
Lavar Harewood (6’3″ So. SG, Andover (MA) Brooks School) Very athletic and well-built wing was one of the pleasant surprises here as he showed very well. He was aggressive, especially on offense, and also showed he could handle the ball a little although that’s clearly not his forte.
Koree Hargraves (5’11” So. PG, Teaneck (NJ) Canterbury School) A playmaking point guard, he had a nice day passing the ball, which in this setting was refreshing considering guards don’t often do that so well in such a setting. His body has a ways to go and his scoring ability needs work, but he appears to be a natural floor leader and will have the opportunity to keep showing it.
Johnny Hilaire (6’7″ So. PF, Lynn (MA) English HS) At first, he might not have leaped out at you, but he had a nice afternoon scoring a lot of close baskets in the flow of the offense and the break. He has a decent frame and needs to get stronger, and if he does that he can become even more of a factor inside.
Brandon Hurst (5’10” Fr. PG-SG, East Hartford (CT) University HS Science/Engineering) Physically gifted, he gets good lift on his jumper and has a good body for his age. If he can show more of the offensive tools he showed here, such as driving for a layup and a mid-range jumper, he’ll be worth keeping a close eye on the next few years.
Keyshaun Jacobs (5’8″ Fr. PG, Chestnut Hill (MA) Beaver Country Day School) Small point guard has a good frame that should carry more weight as his body matures. He got in the lane often, finishing with the left (off) hand, and made a nice pass through the defense for a layup one time.
Zach Jones (6’1″ So. SG, Manchester (NH) West HS) Long guard is a baby physically and lacks strength, which showed on his failure to finish a couple of times. The lefty will get better with that as his body matures, as he has a reputation for scoring, and he showed a little range on his jumper.
Tyrique Jones (6’6″ Fr. PF, Manchester (CT) East Catholic HS) A promising young post player, he has a good frame with some physical maturity and is athletic. He was challenged in the box-out drill but acquitted himself okay, showed some ball skills although he doesn’t look like a future wing at this point, and finished a tough shot on the break one time down.
Roy Kane, Jr. (6’5″ So. SF-PF, Norwalk (CT) High) Long and lanky, he’s an undersized post player although it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him turn into an active, rebounding combo forward down the road. He rebounded well here and showed that he can score inside, but he’ll need to upgrade the ball skills if he hopes to move to the wing even though they’re not bad right now. If he grows more, he could be an even more effective post player.
Greg Kuakumensah (6’3″ Fr. SG, Worcester (MA) St. Peter Marian HS) The younger brother of Brown freshman Cedric, he has some length and showed a touch from long range on his jumper but needs to gain strength as his body develops.
Terance Mann (6’4″ So. SG, Lowell (MA) Tilton School) Long and very athletic, he stood out about as much as anyone on the day with his aggressive drives to the basket. He has a good frame and scored often near the hoop, whether on his drives and dunks or a stickback on one early occasion. His body has a little to go, so there’s a good deal of upside as well.
Colin McManus (6’10” So. C, Bedford (NH) Northfield Mount Hermon) A promising post player with a good body, he showed good fundamentals at both ends with a jump hook to score and being a good presence on the glass. In light of the latter, one wonders how he didn’t do the box-out drill correctly, as he never got in the position to have to box out another player.
Luis Montero (6’7″ So. SF, (Dominican Republic) Wilbraham & Monson Academy) Although he played in the first session due to an academic commitment in the afternoon, his talent was clear. Long and with a good frame, he’s athletic and showed the ability to finish with the left (off) hand and made a nice lead pass one time. If he upgrades the ball skills and acquires a better feel for the game, he’ll move towards a high ceiling.
Toriola Moses (6’10” So. PF-C, Lagos (Nigeria) Kimball Union Academy) A long post player who gets after it on the court, he had quite a battle in one matchup with Cam Durley. He has a good frame and his body has a ways to go, and the best thing he showed is that he has good hands, which with his body can take him a long way.
Ryan Murphy (6’1″ Fr. SG, Fairfield (CT) Prep) Quietly effective on the day, he won’t leap out at you with physical gifts but he found ways to score. At times he did that in traffic and with contact, including stickbacks, as he was quite active.
Tomas Murphy (6’6″ PF, Wakefield (RI) Monsignor Clarke) Talented younger brother of Erik and Alex has a good frame and is probably not done growing yet. Offensively, he has post moves and a touch a little away from the basket, looking like more of a post player. One knock is that he put the ball on the floor in close a little too much, giving smaller players a chance to swipe it away.
Ikenna Ndugba (5’7″ Fr. PG, Andover (MA) Brooks School) His body has a ways to go, but he showed his talent here with plays like a nice pass through the defense to a cutter under the basket and a few pull-up jumpers off the dribble. As his body matures, he should become more effective driving to the basket, especially if he grows as well.
Saul Phiri (6’3″ Fr. SG, Haverhill (MA) High) Athletic guard has a good frame and started out well with the box-out drill, holding his own there. Later, he showed he can lead the break as well as score, and looks like he has some good upside.
J.T. Riddick (6’8″ Fr. SF-PF, Waterbury (CT) Sacred Heart HS) Long and a baby physically, the lefty showed some promise although he’ll be even better once his body matures. He seemed to go in slow motion at times catching and finishing near the basket, but he did knock down a mid-range jumper a rare time he got the ball in the flow of the offense.
Jermaine Samuels (6’3″ SF, Franklin (MA)) One of the most talented players in the first session, this athletic eighth grader has a good body for his age and a good frame. He started out by holding his own in the box-out drill, then when the games got going scored often, whether in transition or driving to the hoop in the halfcourt. He showed he can handle the ball for his size as well, so he’s sure to be on the radar for the next few years with high school still ahead.
Ian Sistare (6’3″ Fr. SG, Dublin (NH) Northfield Mount Hermon) Baby-faced guard has a slight frame and showed himself to be a heady player on the day. Included in that was a nice long lead pass for a layup in the all-star game, and when you add in his shooting ability you have a young man with some potential in the years ahead.
Javon Taylor (6’1″ SG, Cambridge (MA) Beacon Academy) Athletic guard was in a lot of plays, as he stood out in part because of how much he competes. He battled the entire time he was on the court, getting stickbacks and even finishing one time after the play was broken up.
Shyheim Ulrickson (5’9″ Fr. PG, Topsham (ME) Mt. Ararat HS) Well-built guard is a plus athlete who used his body well on drives to the basket. He had a couple of strong driving layups and has the look of a scorer, and while he has an unorthodox release on his jumper he hit some shots. His body still has a good deal of development to go, so there is some upside here.
David Watkins (6’6″ So. SF-PF, West Roxbury (MA) Catholic Memorial HS) Long forward has a decent frame that should fill out well. At the moment, his ball skills aren’t bad but he needs to upgrade them if he is to play on the wing, and he seemed to play there often on the day. His jumper has some range, so he has that going for him to move to the wing.
Other players who caught our attention:
A.J. Brodeur (6’7″ Fr. PF, Southboro (MA) Algonquin School)
Blair Howard (5’9″ So. PG, Hartford (CT) Capital Prep)
Ira Lough (6’4″ So. SG-SF, Warwick (RI) Bishop Hendricken HS)
Jamal Lucas (6’3″ So. SG, New York (NY) Kent School)
William Muller, Jr. (5’10” Fr. PG, Warwick (RI) Bishop Hendricken HS)
Davidson Pacheco (6’5″ Fr. PF, Springfield (MA) New Leadership Charter School)
Tyree Weston (6’1″ So. SG, New Bedford (MA) High)
Jesse Wims (6’7″ So. SF-PF, Belmont (MA) Hill School)