NORTHFIELD, Mass. – If you go to Northfield Mount Hermon, you get a sense of why the Ivy and Patriot Leagues are both doing well these days in college basketball. Both leagues have recruited a number of players from the school, which proudly proclaims to be the best combination of athletics and academics in the country. Also, whereas many schools will boast of alumni they have in conferences like the ACC or Big East, Northfield Mount Hermon is happy to tell you about all the alumni they have in the Ivy and Patriot League.
Last season was perhaps the best example yet that John Carroll has built a fine program at his alma mater. Continuing where Bill Batty left off, Carroll has produced a program with a NEPSAC champion in 2012 and a National Prep Champion in 2013. They won 24 games last season and at one time were atop a national prep school poll, all despite heavy personnel losses from the year before that left them with a very young team.
Now much of that team is back, putting this year’s team theoretically in a good place. They are much more experienced, and now their talented young players can come along at a pace instead of needing to contribute right away. And while past teams were noted for this size, this year’s team isn’t loaded on that front, but has many other assets.
The prospect who is highest on most radars is Josh Sharma (6’11” Sr. C, Lexington (MA)), who returns for his third season at the school and has been recruited at the highest level. A nice and thoughtful young man, it’s easy to forget that he’s heading into just his fifth year of organized basketball, and while he shows a world of potential, at times you’re reminded that it is just potential right now. He used his length well to rebound and disrupt on Friday, and you can see growth over his time at the school.
Sharma will be joined inside by Collin McManus (6’10” Sr. C, Bedford (NH)), one of two Penn commits on the team. With a developing body, he looks ready to close out his career on a good note.
The perimeter is well-represented among the other seniors, especially with shooters Aaron Falzon (6’8″ Sr. SF, Auburndale (MA)) and Jackson Donahue (6’1″ Sr. PG-SG, Stonington (CT)). Falzon isn’t very athletic, but has a good frame and can light up an opponent from deep. Donahue is a player you leave open only if you want to give up three points, as the Penn commit can flat-out shoot. Brown commit Chris Sullivan (6’3″ Sr. SG, Wilmette (IL)), who will follow two older brothers at the Providence school next year, returns for his second season and looks like a different player than at this time last year. He’s not a bad athlete and was in a lot of plays on Friday.
Two point guards in their third year at the school round out the senior class. Daquon Ervin (5’11” Sr. PG, Brooklyn (NY)) is the incumbent and has grown nicely during his first two years at the school. Jashanti Allen (5’9″ Sr. PG, Elmont (NY)) is well-built and will see backup duty.
Leading the junior class is the inside-outside tandem of A.J. Brodeur (6’8″ Jr. PF, Northboro (MA)) and Ian Sistare (6’3″ Jr. SG, Dublin (NH)). Brodeur has good offensive abilities but had an off day shooting on Friday, while Sistare looks determined to be this team’s hustle player as he was constantly around plays and also moved very well without the ball. Joining them is Nick Seretta (6’3″ Jr. SG, Greenfield (MA)), who flourished in transition on Friday, and Patrick Racy (6’7″ Jr. PF, Ridgefield (CT)), who looks like a nice stretch power forward as he hit several jumpers from mid-range.
Newcomer Tomas Murphy (6’8″ So. PF, Wakefield (RI)) has been on the radar for a while and for good reason. He has the pedigree, of course, but he’s also quite talented, and his body has a ways to go. Jerome Desrosiers (6’6″ So. SG-SF, St. Hyacinthe (Que.)) looks like a different player than at this time last year. His body has come along and he’s more vocal, and is ready to do more for this team.
The talented freshman class may show some flashes this season, but a big contribution won’t likely be a necessity given the veterans. Chuck Hannah (6’6″ Fr. SF, Brockton (MA)) may have the highest ceiling, as he has a good frame and his body has a ways to go. Calvin Whipple (6’4″ Fr. SG, Leominster (MA)) has a good frame and a good stroke, though he struggled for a stretch on Friday shooting it before hitting a few shots late. Akiel Shakoor (5’9″ Fr. PG, Worcester (MA)) is a baby physically who will get to grow behind seasoned veterans at the point.
High expectations are a prime reason this team will be in some great events this season. They will be in the National Prep Showcase early on, then head to Florida for the prestigious City of Palms Classic in December and also play in the Hoophall Classic in Springfield in January.
Last season’s results came despite some clear growing pains, especially in the leadership department. That can be expected with a team that young. With this season’s group, that should be far less of a concern, and when added to intangibles like the unselfishness that was on display on Friday, there’s every reason to think this season’s ceiling is appreciably higher than last season’s results. It should be the latest sign of what Carroll has built right near where Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire all meet.