WORCESTER, Mass. – Jamie Sullivan has Worcester Academy in a good place these days. The Hilltoppers have long been a steady performer in the world of NEPSAC, and that should remain the case this season just from looking at their personnel as there is talent, depth and some class balance.
This time around, they are more experienced, and Sullivan has another low-maintenance group. There is some length on this squad, as well as a good core group of guards to start with, and there are a number of options in the frontcourt. The team is a bit dinged up right now, but no injuries are serious.
Chief among those frontcourt options will likely be Kevin Marfo (6’8″ Jr. F, Bergen (NJ)) and Nick Pasquale (6’11” Sr. C, Shrewsbury (MA)). The latter returns for his second season at the school, and while he sat out Sunday with a bothersome knee and was hurt several months ago, he has been coming along and looks ready to anchor the post. Marfo will certainly help, as he was one of the best players on the floor on Sunday. He will give them a nice post scoring option, in addition to rebounding and running the floor, and he can pass out of the post.
They are just the beginning, however. James Wells (6’8″ Jr. PF, VT) and Ben Marello (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF, Daytona Beach (FL)) both impressed on Sunday, with Wells running the floor and hitting some jumpers and Marello impressing with how he competed and was in many plays. James Loring (6’8″ Sr. PF, Norton (MA)) also had some good moments on the afternoon, finishing some chances he got near the basket.
Two players who were not there on Sunday but will figure into the mix are on the younger side. Caden Dumas (6’6″ So. SF, Holden (MA)), who is also a tight end on the football team, had another commitment. Jared Whitt (6’8″ Fr. PF-C, Hanover (MA)) is recovering from a shoulder injury.
Options on the wing are plentiful, depending on how big or small Sullivan wants to go. Saul Phiri (6’4″ Jr. SG-SF, Haverhill (MA)) returns for his second season after a nice spring and summer on the travel circuit. He sat out Sunday’s workout after inadvertently taking a knee to his thigh a day earlier, but his talents are known. Greg Kuakumensah (6’5″ So. SF, Worcester (MA)) also sat out while nursing a minor knee injury, but he has had some good workouts of late. Garrett Kasper (6’4″ Jr. SG-SF, Westborough (MA)) is a lefty who can also play at that position.
One key option on the wing will be Quentin Bullen (6’3″ Sr. SG-SF, Exeter (NH)), who returns and will likely play more in the backcourt. He battled on defense and hit some jumpers on the day, and can occasionally handle the ball. One who could see time at both guard spots is Jeff Spellman (6’1″ Sr. PG-SG, West Roxbury (MA)), who has a relatively mature body and hit several jumpers on the afternoon. Emmanuel Anderson (6’2″ Jr. SG, Somerset (NJ)) is an excellent student who just returned from an ankle injury and got better as Sunday’s workout went on. He’s athletic and hit some mid-range jumpers on the afternoon, more in the latter part of the workout than early on. Roman Serov (6’2″ Sr. SG, Moscow (Russia)) has a good body and was active from the wing. Will Parmlee (6’0″ Sr. SG, Bristol (RI)), who is a defensive end and tight end on the football team, has a good body and can also figure into the mix.
The point guard spot will first and foremost be manned by Pat Benzan (6’0″ Sr. PG, Wellesley (MA)), who comes after a big career at Roxbury Latin. The Holy Cross commit has a mature body and looked to pus the pace on Sunday, and was looking to get the ball to any of the many options now at his disposal. Benzan and Bullen have gone at each other often, and Sunday was no different as both showed how competitive they can be. Charlie Clay (5’10” So. PG, Southborough (MA)), who is a baby physically and has a good motor, is the closest thing to a true point guard backing him up.
Asked about the highlights on the schedule, Sullivan is quick to say, “everything.” He’s not kidding. They will play every team from NEPSAC Class AAA, including Northfield Mount Hermon and New Hampton at home. They will compete in an early tournament at Blair Academy, host the Blackburn Tournament, compete in the Basketbull Hoopsfest and St. Andrew’s Holiday Classic all before the calendar turns over to 2015. Once the new year comes, they play in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic, BallasTV Invitational, BABC Prep Classic, National Prep Invitational (including a matchup with Bridgton Academy), Frank Monahan Basketball Showcase (against Brewster Academy) and New Hampton’s tournament along with Tilton, Lee Academy and the hosts.
NEPSAC Class AA is not only very competitive, but also quite even in recent years. The Hilltoppers have about as much talent as anyone there this time around, so this is a team that should expect to be playing as late as any other this season.