THOMPSON, Conn. – Let’s put one thing out there right away: Marianapolis Prep appeared to be in a state of flux regarding basketball when this fall rolled around. That’s the big reason this profile has come out well after the visit to the school for an open gym. Marianapolis debated a move out of Class AA of NEPSAC, and as is always the case when a transition is considered, there is much more than just basketball involved. But they will remain a Class AA school and field a competitive team this season.
Andrew Vitale’s teams in recent years have done well to reach the Class AA Tournament several times since NEPSAC realigned, and the school has a history of postseason success. They were the seventh seed last year and fifth seed a couple of years ago. During the last days of the old alignment, they lost in the Class B final two years in a row during Tilton’s great run, and lost to them again in the first year of the new alignment.
This year’s team will have to fight to repeat last year’s accomplishments, but that’s what Vitale’s teams have done. The track record suggests they will do all they can in that regard.
This year’s team will have Ryan Bernstein (5’10” Sr. PG-SG, Bronx (NY)) as the clear leader. The lefty can really shoot, especially if he gets even a little space to get his shot off, and he was very vocal on the day of the visit. Tom Horvat (6’1″ Sr. PG, Cranston (RI)), who had a soccer game that day and also plays another sport, could start alongside Bernstein in the backcourt.
Adrian LaFleur (6’2″ Sr. SG, Providence (RI)), the son of Providence associate head coach and Northeastern legend Andre LaFleur, is also likely to play a big role on the perimeter. The lefty shot the ball well from long range and he can drive to his right a little, and he can complement Bernstein’s shooting.
Sebastian Ntansah (So. PG, Cranston (RI)) is a small point guard whose body has a ways to go, but he should get minutes as the backup. Tyler Burton (Fr. PG, Uxbridge (MA)) is a baby physically and baby-faced, and while his body isn’t ready for the rigors of NEPSAC play right now he has a future if he can shoot like he did later in the workout and can give them something in a more limited role this year. Henry Xiao (Fr. SG, Hong Kong), who has a slight frame but was active, will also be in the mix.
The frontcourt will be led by Dominique Senat (6’6″ Jr. SF-PF, Elmont (NY)), who has a good body and some range on his jumper. He showed a hint of post moves and got stickbacks, and he’ll have to be a factor inside as he’s their tallest player.
Nick Richter (6’4″ Jr. SF-PF, Queens (NY)) could be the X-factor for them, as the lefty has more length than you might think from first looking at him. As the day went on, he shot the mid-range jumper better and was a factor on the offensive glass.
Outside of their Class AA games, Marianapolis will play a competitive schedule. In-season events include the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic (against defending Class B champ Cheshire Academy and defending Class AA champ Cushing Academy), defending Class D champ Boston Trinity Academy at the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic, the BABC Prep Classic and the National Prep Invitational, where they will take on CB Academy from the Czech Republic. They also host Bridgton Academy and will travel to play Navy Prep.
Marianapolis has never been loaded with talent, but they always have enough to be a factor. This team has a little less of that than a couple of recent teams, but Vitale will coach them up and get the most out of this group. Bernstein’s shooting can open things up for the frontcourt players, and LaFleur has plenty of experience as well. Those are good places to start.