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2013 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

by - Published September 16, 2013 in Columns

BOSTON – The Boston Back to School Showcase came and went quickly on Sunday with 19 teams in action.  Held at UMass-Boston, where renovations to the Clark Athletic Center have come out very well and more building is happening elsewhere on campus, the event was a mix of school and travel teams and provided a venue for teams and players to get some much-needed competition at a time when many school teams are also in fall leagues, albeit often without those who also play football.  On a busy day of basketball in the area, many of the players and teams in the event were also busy with games elsewhere and had a full day on the hardwood.

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Putnam Science looks ready to continue its rise

by - Published September 13, 2013 in Columns

PUTNAM, Conn. – In a relatively short time, Tom Espinosa has built Putnam Science Academy into a program to be reckoned with. They have scored some significant wins and produced good players for the college level. There is reason to believe that will continue this season and that they are only just beginning their ascent.

As was the case last year, Putnam Science will be a guard-oriented team. And as was the case, there’s a good crop of guards to lead the way, and as important as guards are at this level that’s a good place to be strong.

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At Northfield Mount Hermon, a championship changes little

by - Published September 12, 2013 in Columns

NORTHFIELD, Mass. – Oftentimes at the college level, one wonders what a significant milestone such as a national championship means for a program.  In the case of Northfield Mount Hermon, winning the national prep championship last year means very little will change.  They will continue to be a school that combines academics and athletics as well as anyone, meaning that trips there will mean getting to see excellent students on the hardwood.

It still means very good talent, too, and this year, much of that talent is very young.  In fact, John Carroll has the youngest team in the history of NEPSAC Class AAA.  With that comes opportunity, namely the chance to mold a lot of young players.

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Point guards lead the way at South Kent on a hot day

by - Published September 12, 2013 in Columns

SOUTH KENT, Conn. – The hottest day in New England in two months was spent well west of Boston, starting at the South Kent School.  It was so hot, head coach Kelvin Jefferson opened up all the doors to the gym, and not because he wanted everyone a stone’s throw away from there to come and see his team.  In fact, because of the heat and resulting condensation in the gym, he and his assistant were constantly manning the floor to keep it somewhat dry, and the players worked out for less than an hour on Wednesday.

There wasn’t a player whose shooting would make for a punchline involving the heat, but the Cardinals’ strength is clearly on the perimeter and especially at the point guard spot, which is never a bad place to be strong.

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Tilton not a big favorite but has the talent to contend again

by - Published September 11, 2013 in Columns

TILTON, N.H. – The halcyon days where Tilton was the unquestioned powerhouse of its domain in NEPSAC are in the past, but times are hardly bad there. You won’t find several high-major players with a possible McDonald’s All-American mixed in, but there is good talent. And if the Rams are in the winner’s circle come March once again, it won’t be a surprise for a few reasons.

The Rams have a lot of bodies and will have plenty of competitive practices, let alone games. The point guard spot is most symbolic of that, as they have two solid floor leaders who will probably play together at times in Gonzalo Santana (5’10” Sr. PG, Las Palmas de G.C., Spain) and Jonathan Joseph (5’7″ Jr. PG, Brockton (MA)). While Joseph has long been a sparkplug floor leader who showed a developing body and a good jumper on Tuesday in addition to his quickness, Santana looks like he could be the team’s emotional leader. The well-built guard was hot from long range on the day and will guard you all the way. A play that was symbolic of how he plays was when he was back on defense in transition and almost tied up a player trying to drive by him.

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With lots of guard depth, St. Andrew’s can contend again

by - Published September 9, 2013 in Columns

BARRINGTON, R.I. – The first live day for Division I coaches to view open gym workouts led to a school that was so close to a title just six months ago. St. Andrew’s lost a heart-breaker in the NEPSAC Class AA final to Cushing Academy on a buzzer-beater in a game they led by double digits with just a few minutes left. It’s a loss that still stings, but Mike Hart’s team has a lot of depth and should be a factor once again this season. That was especially evident on Monday as neither of the two best players on the floor were the two best prospects on the team.

The best player on the floor was Henry Bolton (6’2″ Sr. PG-SG, Portsmouth (RI)), a well-built guard who enters his third season at the school. He’s more of a point guard than when he got there, although he really starred on the day by driving to the basket to score at will. Besides using his quickness and athleticism, he finished with contact and finished with the left hand. The Division I offers have been slow to come, but if he keeps playing like he did on Monday that shouldn’t be the case much longer.

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Abu, Terrell announce college choices in a special place

by - Published September 8, 2013 in Columns

ROXBURY, Mass. – As Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell made their college announcement on Saturday, there was much more going on than the headline attraction of two young men deciding where they be a year from now. While Abu had fun with it by grabbing the Oklahoma State cap and handing Terrell the NC State cap – before swapping them to the school each chose – there was also the reality of the setting and who these young men were, a point Terrell’s great grandmother drove home.

“Just remember that you come from Boston, Massachusetts,” she said to cheers from the packed house in a room at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

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How UNC plays without Hairston will shape their season

by - Published August 24, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

One story that has seemingly been a constant this off-season is the life and times of P.J. Hairston. There’s good reason for it: the North Carolina rising junior led one of the nation’s most visible programs in scoring last season and bypassed a weak NBA Draft to return to school. Usually, that would mean a lot of talk about him as a potential All-American the following season and about how high he could go in the next draft with an additional year of development. Instead, he has had an off-season to forget. While his fate is still to be determined, what hasn’t been talked about much is that if he does eventually return to the court, the Tar Heels could be one of those teams that has some early adversity but is much more dangerous later in the season.

Every season, some teams have early personnel adversity they must overcome that is temporary in nature. Often, this takes the form of injuries, but disciplinary issues can come into play as well. The team usually loses a game or two they might not lose with a full squad, but at some point they will have that squad together. When that team is finally whole, they end up much more formidable.

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Thoughts from the month of July

by - Published August 20, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

The all-important month of July has come and gone for 2013. As time goes on, the month seemingly becomes more important all the time, and in its second year of the current calendar setup, there are pros and cons that are becoming more apparent with time. While coaches can view players on weekends in April, that often sets the stage for who coaches will watch in July more than anything else.

This time around, I didn’t get out to see a lot of action, but what I saw was well worth the time spent doing it. So as we move on to the more quiet part of the summer, here are some thoughts from July regarding players, teams and the month itself.

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Transfer waivers have gotten out of hand

by - Published August 7, 2013 in Columns

For several years now, players transferring and being eligible to play right away when citing an ill relative has become very commonplace. It’s getting to the point where a player not seeking a waiver to play right away for such a reason is almost a surprise. While many have said this is getting out of hand, one has to wonder if the case of Isaac Hamilton and UTEP might be the last straw before legislative action gets taken, as this particular case is sure to be interesting to follow.

News broke recently that Hamilton, younger brother of former Texas forward Jordan and former Miami forward Gary, plans not to attend UTEP, where he signed a National Letter of Intent. Hamilton wants a release, but will not get one. This is not new, but UTEP head coach Tim Floyd has alleged that tampering has taken place, which will thicken the plot – and one can figure that Hamilton will probably want a waiver to play right away.

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Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by


Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by


The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by


Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by


The Big Ten had some teams slip as the season went on, but plenty of others picked up the slack in another good year for the conference.

2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

July 7, 2014 by


Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by


The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by


The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by


When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.