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New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 Recruiting No Comments

In the five-plus weeks starting with September 9, I had the chance to visit over 20 prep schools across New England. It started with Putnam Science Academy on the first day that was live for Division I college coaches and ended with Vermont Academy. There was a wide range of talent and depth to be seen in that time, and the open gym workouts varied in terms of how good the action was on each day.

It’s clear that the action on the hardwood will be as competitive as we’ve come to expect this season. Class AAA will be hotly contested, and Class AA is well-known for its relative evenness from top to bottom. There is plenty to watch in all of the enrollment divisions as well. While a few teams repeated as champions last year, that doesn’t seem likely this season at first glance, but nothing is a given in September and October.

Class AAA Outlook

The first detail is how I would handicap Class AAA. I saw every school except Bridgton Academy, and based on what I know about them and saw from the other five schools, if I had to predict the finish it would look something like this:

  1. Brewster Academy
  2. Northfield Mount Hermon
  3. New Hampton School
  4. South Kent School
  5. St. Thomas More
  6. Bridgton Academy

While Brewster Academy is universally acknowledged as being loaded from a talent standpoint – seven players have already committed to high-major schools – they are far from a prohibitive favorite. Northfield Mount Hermon and New Hampton are very capable of beating them, as Northfield Mount Hermon brings back more than any other school from last season and New Hampton has a lot of size and options. I could easily swap those two in this prediction and can’t fault anyone who would pick either ahead of Brewster Academy. South Kent has a lot of size but is also less experienced, so the Cardinals are probably the sleeper team here. St. Thomas More doesn’t have as much talent as last year, but Jere Quinn’s track record is one of great success. Bridgton Academy might not have as much raw talent on paper as others, but Whit Lesure can flat-out coach and most around Class AAA think they have more talent than last season.

Class AA Outlook

Class AA is a lot harder to pick, and I’m not going to go all the way from top to bottom with this one. Instead, some thoughts on how I see things shaking out:

  • Vermont Academy may have the most talent of all the teams
  • Worcester Academy probably has the most depth
  • Tilton might have the most size, and they also have a leader in Terance Mann who is driven to close out his high school career on a good note
  • St. Andrew’s has a potentially good combination of veterans and talented youth to be very dangerous late in the season
  • While it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Cushing Academy wins a third straight title, there’s no reason to predict it as the Penguins have a very young core once again
  • The Master’s School is your sleeper team, as they aren’t deep up front but have good talent and complementary players on the perimeter
  • No one will pick the Holderness School or Marianapolis Prep to win it all, but neither team will be an easy out

Other Notes

  • Class A shapes up to be a great race, as two-time defending champion Phillips Exeter has a good team, but the Kent School, Suffield Academy and Tabor Academy all have potential, as does Choate Rosemary Hall, with new coach Drew Dawson
  • Williston Northampton will be intriguing as Mike Shelton takes over and has quickly recruited more talent than they have had in a long time
  • The Brooks School may be the pick to win Class B, as they are now a very experienced team with ten players returning from last season’s runner-up team; as it is, they are certainly the pick to win the Independent Schools League (ISL)
  • The Rivers School is intriguing in both the ISL and Class B because they have the best individual talent in Jermaine Samuels
  • How Commonwealth Academy develops over the course of this year will be fascinating to watch, as they have plenty of talent and most now have a year of high school under their belt

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