MARION, Mass. – Before the season begins, when every team is undefeated but also winless, every coach is optimistic about their team. Every coach feels good about who they have, even if they can see a potentially weak area. Chris Millette is one of those coaches, and he’s more than optimistic about his team for good reason.
Millette thinks he has as deep a team as he’s had during his tenure at the school. He’s had talent, and still does this season, but now he has more behind his top players. And as has been the case in recent years, frontcourt players will headline this team.
They start with Fordham commit Jesse Bunting (6’7″ Sr. PF, Plymouth (MA)), who will also help lead a younger player through the ropes. Bunting will throw his weight around inside and has some tools away from the basket, though he’s much better inside. He will be the clear base of the offense, as they will surely force teams to decide how they will deal with him in relation to his teammates.
Bunting’s main help will be someone who will need a little time to develop, newcomer Akim Sanni (6’6″ So. PF, Benin). Sanni has not been playing the game for long, and it shows, but he has undeniable potential. This season will probably be like Sunday’s workout was: he’ll have moments when his potential is clear and moments where it will be easy to remember that he hasn’t been playing the game long.
After that is a long list of perimeter players they will rely on. The chief shooter will likely be Andrew Jacob (6’2″ Sr. SG, Needham (MA)), a lefty who showed off his stroke on Sunday and should do a lot to keep defenses honest if they want to key on Bunting inside. One possibility alongside him will be Chris DiClemente (6’1″ Jr. SG, Narragansett (RI)), who sat out Sunday’s workout due to a right knee injury and also plays football. Jason Bird (6’3″ Jr. SG, Raynham (MA)) did work out and had some good moments, including one play when he managed to sneak behind the defense and get a layup.
The X-factor on the wing is likely to be Brandon Beloti (Jr. SG-SF, Apex (NC)). While not the most skilled player, he’s athletic, his body can develop and he has a good motor that helps him to be effective. Angel Santiago (5’10” Fr. PG-SG, Plymouth (MA)), who plays several positions on the football team, sat out Sunday’s workout but could be a nice backcourt reserve. Drew Jones (6’2″ Sr. SG, Philadelphia (PA)), who is a lineman on the football team, and Matt Duffy (6’1″ Jr. SG, Warwick (RI)) will also be in the mix and did not work out on Sunday morning.
The leading candidate for the point guard spot might be Jeremiah Adams (6’0″ Jr. PG, Mattapoisett (MA)), a big-time baseball prospect who missed Sunday’s workout due to a baseball event in Florida. His intangibles are a big reason why he could get the nod here, and that’s not a surprise considering he plays shortstop and catcher – the two most demanding defensive positions on the diamond. Santiago is likely to be one backup there, along with Matt General (Sr. PG, Dartmouth (MA)), who returns and loves the game.
The schedule features several in-season events along with some of the usual games against Class AA teams. They will play in the Scholar Roundball Classic, co-host a holiday Class A event with Phillips Exeter in December, then play in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic and a tournament with Belmont Hill and Roxbury Latin. They also have dates with Worcester Academy and St. Andrew’s on the slate.
The pieces appear to be in place for contention in Class A this season. Bunting will lead the way up front, and the perimeter players surrounding him are a capable unit. If the depth is what Millette thinks it will be, they have a chance to get a higher seed than the number five that they have landed recently, then to do a little more in the tournament.