WOLFEBORO, N.H. – When you head to Brewster Academy these days, you know what to expect. In short, you expect to see a great collection of talent, likely the best NEPSAC Class AAA has to offer, and a group that will likewise provide a different challenge for head coach Jason Smith and his staff.
This year’s trip up didn’t disappoint. And while having all of this talent is a pleasant problem to have, Smith and his staff don’t simply roll out the balls and win games. That isn’t how they’ve won four NEPSAC titles and three national titles in the last seven years. They hold players accountable and get them to understand that everyone wants to knock them off. There is a target on this team’s back, and that presents a challenge all its own.
The Bobcats will attempt to meet the challenge starting with a terrific backcourt, one that has a number of interchangeable parts. The top candidates for the point guard spot are already committed to high-major schools. There’s Connecticut commit Jalen Adams (6’2″ Sr. PG-SG, Roxbury (MA)), Arizona commit Justin Simon (6’5″ Sr. PG, Temecula (CA)), and Washington commit David Crisp (6’0″ Sr. PG, Lakewood (WA)). Adams has made his mark very much off the ball, but he’s been working to become more of a facilitator and should have more of a chance this season. He played a vital role on the last two NEPSAC Class AA champions at Cushing Academy. Crisp is a well-built left-hander who had some good moments driving and scoring. Don’t be surprised if Simon plays alongside one of them often given his size. He got better as Tuesday’s workout went on, and his body can still get better.
There is also Kamali Chambers (5’11” Sr. PG, Golden Valley (MN)), the younger brother of Harvard junior Siyani. Smith said Chambers has been the most pleasant surprise thus far, a very good student who shot the ball well on Tuesday. Devin Williams (6’1″ Sr. PG-SG, Sharon (MA)) has played the point plenty, but shoots it so well – and Tuesday was no exception – and is alongside so many other good options that it’s reasonable to figure he’ll play off the ball much more than on the ball this season.
Donovan Mitchell (6’3″ Sr. SG, Greenwich (CT)) leads the group of options off the ball. The recent Louisville commit had a terrific summer, as he has a good body and is athletic. He didn’t have his best day on Tuesday, but he’s had too many good ones to make much of this. Jamani Spencer (6’0″ Sr. SG, Porter Ranch (CA)), an athletic guard who impressed, and Joseph Worku (6’2″ Sr. SG, Antioch (CA)), another athletic guard whose body has a ways to go, will also play and help this team. Sam Kiley (6’3″ Sr. SG, Wolfeboro (NH)) will get minutes as a designated shooter.
Up front, there are sure to be some workout and practice battles with the two main post players. Georgetown commit Marcus Derrickson (6’8″ Sr. PF) and Virginia commit Jarred Reuter (6’8″ Sr. PF, Marion (MA)) are both similar players who have big bodies but are also skilled enough to operate facing the basket. Derrickson has gotten into better shape in recent months and can improve more in that regard, and he showed off his three-point touch on Tuesday. Reuter looks much better than when he first arrive on campus a year ago, as he looks to be in better shape and his offense looks even more polished.
Alex Illikkainen (6’8″ Sr. PF, Grand Rapids (MN)) will get plenty of minutes as well, and while not as big and strong as Derrickson or Reuter, he can operate inside and will help them.
Also in the picture up front will be Joseph Sherburne (6’6″ Sr. SF, Whitefish Bay (WI)) and Michael Karnes (6’8″ Jr. PF, Houston (TX)), the latter of whom still has a ways to go physically. The wing will include Tyler Colon (6’6″ Sr. SF, Palos Verdes Peninsula (CA)), who is athletic and has a good body but is a bit limited right now as he is coming off an injury.
The Class AAA schedule will be plenty challenging, and that’s not all that’s in store for the Bobcats. They will play in the National Prep Showcase in November, the New Hampshire Prep Showcase, and host two events, the Trey Whitfield Invitational and the Brewster Academy Showcase.
The challenge with a group this talented and versatile is always about intangibles – leadership, respecting opponents and never letting your guard down. Smith has been down this road before and knows how to navigate it, and he knows the rest of Class AAA isn’t letting up. That means they can’t let up, either, and the experience of this cast along with the staff leaves no reason to believe they will.