DORCHESTER, Mass. – The 2015 Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams a chance for a couple of early games. Teams from three states as well as Quebec competed at UMass-Boston in an event that ultimately isn’t as much about wins and losses as it is getting better and figuring things out. Over a dozen college coaches also came by to see the talent on hand.
With football and other fall sports in full swing, most teams didn’t have their full squad, but found value in the matchups and in some players getting to start towards earning expanded roles. Coaches got to see some things with their team right now with or without certain players, helping them prepare for the season in a couple of months.
Brighton may have had the best day of anyone, winning both games against a good Foxboro team and a Windsor (CT) team that has a legendary coach. The Bengals have plenty of talent on the perimeter, from steadily improving Jordan Galloway (5’10” Jr. PG) to bruiser Tyrone Perry (6’1″ Jr. SG) and Jonathan Casseus (6’0″ Jr. SG), but also have an inside presence led by Devin Curtis (Sr. PF), who used his body to his advantage on the post.
Speaking of Foxboro, they dropped both games but got two big tests. They gave St. John’s Prep all they could handle in the opener before the loss to Brighton, but they’ll be a team to watch in the Hockomock League and in Division II. Alex DuBrow (5’11” Sr. PG) showed off his passing ability all day, while Robby Lowey (Sr. PF) gives them a nice inside presence.
St. John’s Prep, meanwhile, looks like they can go far this season in Division I. John Dullea’s team has a lot of size and good backcourt talent, and they should also battle Catholic Memorial for the Catholic Conference crown. Harry O’Neil (6’6″ Sr. PF-C, Lexington (MA)) anchors that front line along with younger brother Tommy O’Neil (6’8″ So. PF-C, Lexington (MA)), who looks ready to make a nice jump as he was very active on Sunday. Captain Spencer Danforth (6’1″ Sr. SG) leads the perimeter unit, while Al Buresh (Sr. SG) had a clutch jumper in their first game on Sunday and has a tendency to come up big. Justin Connolly (6’5″ Jr. SG-SF) will also play a key role on the wing.
St. John’s Prep got a good test in their second game as they took on Jean-de-Brebeuf, a prep school from Montreal. Nathan Cayo (6’7″ Jr. SF-PF) is the most intriguing prospect with his length and a body that has a ways to go, while Olivier Cadieux (6’3″ Sr. SG) toughed out a toe injury and William Boyer-Richard (6’1″ So. PG) will be one to watch develop as he’s a tough competitor.
Windsor went 0-2 on the day but appears to have more talent than when they were in this event a couple of years ago, and that season they went on to win a state title. Ken Smith has won a lot of games, and this is a senior-laden team, so there’s every reason to expect that they can make a run in March. George Gamble (6’1″ So. SG) is their best prospect, as he has a good body and showed he can get chances at the basket and finish. Chaiz Canty (6’7″ Sr. PF-C) will anchor the inside, and with added strength he can help someone at the next level.
The one other high school team not from Massachusetts went 2-0 on the day, cruising to victory both times. That was a team primarily with Providence Country Day School players, but also a few from Shea High School. Alex Holloway (5’10” Sr. PG, Pawtucket (RI) Providence Country Day School) ran the show well, and he’s a pass-first floor leader who can get teammates going. An intriguing prospect they have is Abdul Ajia (6’3″ Jr. SF, Pawtucket (RI) Shea HS), who has some length and got shaken up but returned later. He also plays football.
New Mission knocked off Cambridge and Windsor to go 2-0 on the day. The Titans should be among the favorites to win the Boston City League this season, as they already have a stable of guards led by twins Charles (5’11” Jr. PG) and Charlie Mitchell (5’11” Jr. PG), the latter of whom missed last season with an injury but looks ready to come back in a big way based on his play Sunday. Now, though, they have potential up front with the addition of Isaiah Laurent (6’6″ Sr. PF). It is a couple of sophomores, however, who have the potential to raise this team further this season and beyond. Darion Jordan (So. SF-PF) is very active and was in a lot of plays, and he should complement Laurent nicely in the frontcourt, while Dominic Jones (6’1″ So. SG) is the player coach Cory McCarthy is highest on.
Cambridge Rindge & Latin was like most teams in that they didn’t have their entire team, and in their case they were missing some key players. Jaelen George-Belletti (6’1″ Sr. SG) caught our eye in the first game, as he was in a lot of plays.
Lawrence sometimes gets overshadowed in the loaded Merrimack Valley Conference, but Ray Nunez has some talent. Marcos Germanson (6’3″ Sr. SG) will be one of his team’s leaders, while he has intriguing younger talents in Ricardo Tejeda (6’0″ Jr. SG) and Juan Felix Rodriguez (5’9″ Fr. PG-SG).
Jeremiah Burke had a nice day with a pair of wins. Sean Ryan is trying to get their talent to translate into more wins this time around, and their play here can’t hurt. His top player is Jamari Johnson (6’2″ Sr. SG), a very active wing who can really rebound from his position and has a great motor. Damonte Turner (6’3″ Sr. SG) led them in scoring in both wins and is fresh off a nice summer with BABC, while Andrew Williams (6’5″ Jr. SF-PF) is an intriguing prospect. Ryan will also give some minutes to Devante Jamison (Fr. PG), who has a long way to go physically but has potential, especially if he can shoot more like he did in one game here where he hit a couple of shots from deep.
Charlestown had two big wins on the day, and the Townies have an athletic bunch without a clear star. They look like a balanced team that will make life difficult for opponents. One of the teams they blew out was a Franklin team that has talent, some of it young (one freshman and three sophomores), though they were missing their starting point guard. Paul Mahon (5’10” So. PG-SG) had a nice first game for them, hitting three three-pointers en route to 18 points.
Another team to watch in the city will be Dorchester, as Johnny Williams has built them into a consistent contender. They will be younger with less in the way of returning talent, but Williams’ teams have been defense-oriented and this team should be no different. The fall will be a time for them to grow to be ready for the season starting in December, and they showed well here.