CHARLESTOWN, Mass. – While many prep schools hold regular workouts for college coaches at this time of the year, public schools in these parts tend to be a little quiet on that front. But Charlestown High School brought all three of its teams (varsity, junior varsity and freshman) together on Saturday afternoon for coaches to get a look at its players.
Head coach Edson Cardoso, now in his fourth year at the school, organized it for his players who often can’t afford to go to multiple showcases that dot the landscape in the fall. The school has annually been one of the best in the city for over a decade and has sent several players to Division I in that time. This year’s squad is younger, but they aren’t lacking talent and will be able to run with many other schools.
Six seniors are gone from last season’s team and only two regular contributors from last season return. A couple of new additions will help, and a big key will be the emergence of leadership.
“We need more leadership,” said Cardoso. “You’ve got to go hard, sacrifice and do things you wouldn’t normally do.”
They will need it in part because in addition to the usually competitive Boston City League schedule, their non-league slate includes matchups with BC High, St. John’s Prep, Springfield Cathedral, St. Peter Marian and Hope High School (Providence, R.I.). In the city, they are in the same division as the powerful Brighton, East Boston and New Mission squads.
One addition who could certainly be this team’s best player is Alijiah Robinson (6’7″ Sr. SF-PF), who has bounced around prior to this season. Robinson has been a good student through all the changes in his life and has been on and off the radar because he is talented and full of potential. Long and a plus athlete, he ran the floor very well on Saturday and had a number of transition opportunities as a result. His body still has to mature, but the skill package is good and should help draw some Division I schools.
Another newcomer to watch is Freddy Oliveira (6’5″ Jr. SF-PF), who has always had the talent to be a star but has lacked the consistency. He wasn’t quite himself on Saturday as he had been hospitalized for a minor illness recently, but the lefty had some good moments as he drove the baseline for a reverse layup one time and got a couple of dunks in transition. If he gets it together, he is a scholarship player and can be a very good student as well.
“We challenged Freddie from day one, said it’s time to grow up,” said Cardoso. “I told him, you have to decide how bad you want this.”
Taris Wilson (6’3″ Jr. SG) is one of the two holdovers from last season and must take on a bigger role this time around. The well-built and athletic guard hit a couple of mid-range jumpers and also had a nice finish with the left (off) hand. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he leads the team in scoring this season.
The starting point guard will likely be SaQuan Hinds-Taylor (6’0″ Jr. PG), who is the other significant holdover. He won’t leap out at you physically or with a particular skill, but on Saturday he was in a lot of plays and hustled the entire time he was out there. In addition, he had a nice drive and finish on one play and several good passes as well.
Jon Grullan (7’0″ Sr. C) is back after a left knee injury kept him out a year ago, and the effects are still noticeable as he has five screws in the knee. His mobility is still limited and he’s a project big man, but he did have a nice outlet pass and has some length as he can grab the rim flat-footed.
Kevin Williams (6’3″ So. SG) looks ready to get good minutes this year. A baby physically with a slight frame, he shot the ball well out to long range and hit a nice floater one time as well, and handled the ball passably for the off-guard spot. Jimmy Edwards (6’2″ Jr. PG) will also be in the mix as he has some good ball skills to go along with being a plus athlete. Ryan Gunter (6’2″ Jr. SG) drove in against the big men a few times and can finish against them, and he’ll compete while on the floor. Jeff Ramos (6’1″ Jr. SG) can score but his body has a ways to go.
Charles Valbrun (6’5″ So. PF) has some potential inside, as he has a good body and effort isn’t a question mark. He’s not the most fluid athlete, but he makes up for it in part by being a live body and running the floor well. Joining Valbrun among the role players up front will be the likes of Tyrell Williams (6’5″ Jr. PF) and Chris Conway (6’3″ So. SF-PF). Williams is well-built and not the most skilled forward, but he can rebound. The left-handed Conway has a man’s body and on one play made a nice bounce pass for a fast break layup.
The Townies have some younger talent in the program that will be worth keeping an eye on down the road. The freshman they are highest on is Jovani Harper-Lopez (6’3″ Fr. SG), whose body has some physical maturity and can still mature more. He needs to get some lift on his jumper, but he showed he can make shots and has a decent skill set for his age. Alonzo Foster (6’3″ Fr. SF-PF) has a good frame and looks intriguing, though the skill set has a ways to go. Jacob Moses (5’9″ Fr. PG-SG) is a baby physically and with a game that has as far to go as his body, but had some good moments. Jerry Gray (6’0″ Fr. PG-SG) is a baby physically who has a good motor.
The Townies figure to be among the best teams in the city once again, but who will lead them there is the question. There’s enough returning talent with Wilson and Hinds-Taylor and they should get a good boost from Robinson and Oliveira, especially if the latter plays with the sense of urgency he needs to in order to develop some consistency. If they get support from those behind them, the Townies should go a long way again this season.