MILTON, Mass. – As Lamar Reddicks enters his fifth season at Milton Academy, the thinking among his team is a NEPSAC Class A championship. Some key pieces from last season’s team, which went 19-6 overall and 13-2 in Independent School League (ISL) play, are back for another run at it in what figures to be an even more competitive Class A this time around.
The key is likely to be on the perimeter, which is true for many teams but perhaps more so for this group. Their strength is up front, so the guards will need to control the game, hit open shots and get the ball to the players up front.
The elder statesman up front is Ike Ngwudo (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF, Baldwin (NY)), who is still recuperating from a foot injury that kept him out of July. One of the best kids you’ll meet, he worked out on the side on Sunday and is eager to return. His leadership will be a key in addition to the production he can give them, and after not playing in July in front of college coaches he’ll be a little more motivated during the season.
The best player will probably be Alec Brennan (6’10” Jr. PF, Weston (MA)), who had a big month of July and looks ready to really come into his own. His skill package was never really in question, but he was always the classic “too nice a kid” on the court and thus didn’t play as well as he could have. Now he’s playing with an edge to him and that seemed to be the case on Sunday. He continues to grow physically as well, and his length is perhaps a bit underrated. If he continues what he did in July, he could be the top player in Class A this season.
Nick Bland (6’4″ Sr. SF, Milton (MA)), who also plays football, did not work out on the day, nor did Nick Pagliuca (6’3″ Jr. SG-SF, Weston (MA)), the son of Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca. Both were key contributors last season, and Bland could start or be the first forward off the bench. Jack Urquhart (6’2″ Jr. SG-SF, Bridgewater (MA)) could also see time there if they go small.
The perimeter unit will be led by Max Motroni (5’10” Sr. PG, West Warwick (RI)), who basically ran Sunday’s workout. He has a mature body and knows the game well, and he’s a capable shooter although that won’t be the first thing they ask him to do. The most important things for him to do will be run the show and be a leader.
Jack Karle (6’0″ Jr. SG, Milton (MA)) was the only other regular who worked out on Sunday, and he was vocal and shot the ball reasonably well, although his dribble could stand some improvement.
Ryan Rizzo (5’10” Sr. PG, Needham (MA)), who plays football and did not work out on Sunday, may be the backup point guard. The X-factor in the backcourt could be Johnny Blaze (6’0″ Fr. PG, Milton (MA)), who was not at Sunday’s workout. Freshmen in NEPSAC are difficult to project, but he will probably at least be in the mix for some minutes.
Last season, Milton Academy had a tough stretch for much of December, losing six of seven into early January before they put together a nine-game winning streak starting near the end of January. In Class A, the likes of Phillips Exeter, Kent School, Choate Rosemary Hall and Tabor Academy all look formidable at first glance, and it figures to be a competitive group. Milton Academy could be in the mix with all of those teams if the backcourt does its job to help the frontcourt players do what they’re capable of.