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2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 Columns, Recruiting No Comments

DORCHESTER, Mass. – The 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams an early look at what they have as many fall leagues begin play. Teams played two games against teams they don’t normally play – namely, none against league opponents, though two leagues (Boston City and Hockomock) were very well-represented in the field.

There were a few blowouts along the way, but also a few dandies. Three teams had perfect days as well, and in all, some intriguing talent came to UMass-Boston.

The team that might have impressed the most is Dorchester, who clicked on all cylinders before having to hold off Franklin, then ran away from Saugus. Johnny Williams has preached defense all along during his tenure at the school, and this team will play that for 94 feet relentlessly. They sped opponents up and out-toughed them, two things they will have to do since they are small and have a lot of guards, and at times were hot shooting the ball from deep. Kervonne Whitehall (So. G) was among the leaders, as the rugged guard was in many plays in the press, played bigger and finished with contact. Freshman guard Shamar Browder looks like he should help right away, as he battled and made plays, while junior Marquis Smith is a lanky guard who was in a lot of plays as well.

Windsor (CT) High made the two-hour trip through a storm and got the most out of it, pulling out a dandy over Franklin and then handling South Boston. As usual, Ken Smith’s team was well-coached, moving the ball very well and giving a well-balanced look. On a number of possessions, the ball changed hands several times, and they often scored on those possessions. Donavan Austin (Sr. PG) and Tyshawn Wellborn (Jr. SG) scored in double figures in both games, with Austin hitting five three-pointers en route to 25 points in their second game.

The third team to win both games on the day could be a sleeper in the Boston City League, as Sean Ryan continues to move Jeremiah Burke in the right direction. They first beat Sharon, then on short rest took care of Saugus. While their talent starts on the perimeter, they have the most intriguing talent that was in the gym on the day in Kenneth Arajou (Jr. C). Arajou has length, is a plus athlete, was all over the glass at both ends including a number of stickbacks and can be a rim protector in a league where many teams don’t have much size. Sophomore guard Levar Williams impressed with his shooting, and he should get some good looks thanks to Arajou inside and the playmaking of BNBL 15-Under MVP Devante Jamison (So. PG) on the perimeter. Jamison is a diminutive floor leader, but can get in the lane and find guys and is tough; for good measure, he hit four three-pointers in one game as well. Dajour Dunkley (Sr. SG) is another perimeter talent who figures to play a big role for this team, especially as a senior surrounding talented underclassmen.

Franklin had a tough day on the bottom line, rallying but falling short against Dorchester before losing a tough one against Windsor. They have good overall size but also lose a couple of key players from last season, so a number of veterans will need to take on new roles. One player who could be a key is Jalen Samuels (So. SG), the younger brother of recent Villanova commit Jermaine. While not as talented as his older brother, Samuels had some good moments getting to the basket, but with his size for the position and athleticism, you also get the feeling he could be more of a factor than he was on the day. Junior Jack Rodgers had 15 points in their first game, and senior Connor Goldstein had 17 in the tough loss to Windsor, with each showing a good touch shooting from long range.

Fellow Hockomock League member Foxboro split their games on the day, losing to Latin Academy before knocking off South Boston. The player to watch there is freshman Brandon Borde, who can do a lot of things from what will likely be a frontcourt position for this team. He has a baby face, a good body and the lefty has plus ball skills with room to grow. In the first game of the day, he hit a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer. Foxboro will also lean on their most experienced player, Andrew Block (Sr. G), who had 21 points against Latin Academy. Sharon also represented the Hockomock League and split on the day, pulling out a close one 49-46 over Latin Academy in their opener.

Saugus went 0-2 against two teams that should make a lot of noise in the city, so they were tested. The Sachems have good overall size, which will serve them well, and they had their moments against two teams that play faster.

Latin Academy split on the day, beating Foxboro before losing a close one to Sharon. Victor Monegro (Sr. G) had a nice game with 23 points in the opener and looks ready to build on a season where he was second-team All-Boston City League. South Boston was the only Boston City League team to go 0-2 on the day, as they had a chance against Foxboro before Windsor handled them in their second game.

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