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Vermont Academy fully reflects their new coach

by - Published September 30, 2013 in Columns

SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – Teams usually reflect their coach for obvious reasons.  A coach shapes a team with things like style of play and overall character, as well as personality, and at levels before the professional ranks the coach often shapes the team much more than a pro coach does.  In the case of Vermont Academy, the idea of a team reflecting its coach takes on even more meaning because of who their coach is: the youngest in Class AA.

Jesse Bopp left the school to join the staff at VCU, and in his place is former assistant Cody Hatt.  Barely half a decade out of college, Hatt has been fortunate to land in such a spot at this juncture, and he has a similarly young group with many underclassmen, including his best players.

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Sullivan excited about the team he has put together at Worcester Academy

by - Published September 30, 2013 in Columns

WORCESTER, Mass. – You get the sense while talking to Worcester Academy head coach Jamie Sullivan that he will love coaching his team even if they lose every game this season. That’s a highly unlikely scenario for a lot of reasons, and he’s happy to brag about why he’ll enjoy this team.

Talent is only a small part of the equation. The Hilltoppers have it, but are not going to win many games on that alone. By and large, this is a team full of players who have something – a scholarship or a level of college – to play for. Many have either under-achieved, under-recruited and/or are late bloomers who will get chances to show how good they can be. It’s also a team with good students all around and a low-maintenance group, and all of that makes Sullivan’s job easier.

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Quick Hitters – September 29, 2013

by - Published September 29, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

It’s a great time of the year. Prep school visits are winding down and college teams have started practice, signs that the season isn’t far away. Also, college schedules are finally coming out, with a few more game times to be determined due to television.

Before getting back to some of the final prep school visits, here are some quick hitters from around college basketball.

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Led by their perimeter trio, Cushing Academy could repeat in NEPSAC Class AA

by - Published September 27, 2013 in Columns

ASHBURNHAM, Mass. – The defending NEPSAC Class AA champions could very well stand in the winner’s circle again come next March.  Cushing Academy won it all last March on a buzzer-beater, completing a comeback from being down by double digits with a few minutes left.  This time around, if they win it all again, they might not need that kind of drama, although they certainly won’t be prohibitive favorites.

Cushing will probably have the best backcourt in Class AA, and it starts with recent Syracuse commit Kaleb Joseph (6’3″ Sr. PG, Nashua (NH)).  Simply put, the long guard is just what a team like this needs: he’s still hungry, still working and very committed to leading this team.  There’s no entitlement in him; in fact, before the workout, he wasn’t delegating the task of setting up the court to the freshmen, as he was leading the charge himself.  This is a young man who wants another championship and wants to get better, and it was all in evidence as he showed a better jumper and his team kept on winning during game action.

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Notre Dame Prep looks like Hurd’s kind of team

by - Published September 27, 2013 in Columns

FITCHBURG, Mass. – Ryan Hurd feels pretty good about his team right now at Notre Dame Prep, and that’s with his best player and a few late arrivals having worked out exactly zero minutes with their teammates to this point.  Watching eight of their players go through their second workout of the day on Thursday provides some insight as to why, and one can imagine that he’ll feel better once he works with them even more.

Hurd likes having a team loaded with guards so he can more easily push the pace, and that’s what he has.  There’s only one player taller than 6’5″ who took the floor on Thursday, and it’s easy to imagine this team playing faster than every opponent.

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Proctor Academy’s young players need to grow for the future

by - Published September 26, 2013 in Columns

ANDOVER, N.H. – This season isn’t where Proctor Academy will have its big goal as far as its current personnel are concerned.  While there are a number of seniors and post-graduates on the roster, the program is trying to put together a young core that will probably have some noticeable growing pains this season but be expected to contend in another year or two.  More than the wins and losses, the growth of the young talent will be a key story for Gregor Makechnie’s team in 2013-14.  On Wednesday night, they got together for their first open gym of the fall.

The one around whom the future will be primarily built is Julian Roche (6’10” So. PF-C, St. John (New Brunswick)).  The big man possess a good frame and is young all the way around, as he’s 15 years old and his body has some baby fat to get rid of.  While raw on the post offensively, he showed a nice touch shooting the ball well away from the basket, so that will give them some options for what to run on offense while he tries to develop his body and more of a post game.  He didn’t shy away from contact or trying to get rebounds as well.

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For Brimmer and May, this season will be all about growth

by - Published September 25, 2013 in Columns

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – When many think of prep schools, chances are boarding schools come to mind first. While they dominate the landscape, Brimmer and May is the only day school in NEPSAC Class AAA or AA. This year, Tom Nelson’s team has a good deal of youth, but also some talent both on and off the court, as his team is full of good students as is usually the case at the school. The Gators should likewise field a competitive team on the court that will need to grow as the season goes along.

The young talent can be most clearly seen up front, where the Gators have some length. David Watkins (6’6″ So. SF-PF, Dorchester (MA)) might have the highest ceiling of anyone, as he’s long and a plus athlete and more potential than player right now. His body isn’t there, and the skill package needs to come along, but already there are hints, and they were visible on Tuesday. He has a high release on his jumper, which he can make at times, he will play physical inside instead of shying away from contact, and he shows some ball skills now although he needs to keep developing them.

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New Hampton has a nice mix of size, talent and experience

by - Published September 24, 2013 in Columns

NEW HAMPTON, N.H. – Even without a key component of the team on the floor due to injury, the New Hampton School had a good deal of size on display at Monday night’s open gym.  This time around, Pete Hutchins will have a lot of flexibility in the frontcourt to go with a good collection of wings, and in all it’s a team with a lot of potential waiting to be tapped.

The guards who will get them the ball and play off them look like a solid and perhaps underrated bunch as a whole.  Two in the mix at the point are Matt Dean (5’10” Sr. PG, Gilford (NH)) and Danny Levitt (6’1″ Jr. PG, Westmount (Que.)), the latter being another Canadian to come to the school.  Levitt was able to drive past his man and score a couple of times and also hit a mid-range pull-up on one occasion.

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2013 Boston Skills Showcase Recap

by - Published September 22, 2013 in Columns

BOSTON – The 2013 Boston Skills Showcase was held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center on Saturday. College coaches worked with a number of high school players through drills and game action, including situational play. It was a chance for the young men to get better and show how they have done that, and a few certainly did.

Here are notes on a few who stood out on the day.

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After a championship, Phillips Exeter starts over with a young group

by - Published September 18, 2013 in Columns

EXETER, N.H. – Last year was a banner year for a couple of the best academic prep schools in New England.  In the case of Phillips Exeter Academy, the end result was a NEPSAC Class A championship, something one could see as a possibility before the season given the chemistry the team already established to go with its talent.  This season, there won’t be any championship prognostications, as the team is decidedly very young, but there’s no reason to think they won’t be worth watching as there is good talent and coaching.

Jay Tilton doesn’t have an easy job trying to win games at the most demanding prep school in New England and perhaps the country.  Last year’s championship is a bonus; players at this school have academic considerations that come first, second and third, and getting them into top academic colleges is the top priority as far as end results go.  That will continue, and given Tilton’s track record, there’s reason to believe this young group – there are as many freshmen and sophomores (five) as there are seniors – can grow and later develop into part of a winning unit.

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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

NC State is not making it easy on themselves

March 1, 2015 by


North Carolina State appears to have put themselves in a good position for the NCAA Tournament, but they aren’t making this easy on themselves.

Saturday Notes – February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015 by


We look back at a very busy Saturday, one that was full of big games that included some conferences closing out their regular season with plenty of drama.

Saturday Notes – February 21, 2015

February 22, 2015 by


A busy Saturday saw a lot of results that shook up conference standings, including a three-way tie developing in one of them, and some at-large hopes took a hit as well.

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Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Winter Invitational: What to expect

January 23, 2015 by


The Boston Winter Invitational is coming up on Sunday at UMass-Boston. Here is a look at some of what to expect in the four prep school games that are on the schedule.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Monday notes

January 21, 2015 by


Monday was the big day despite having just five games, as all were big matchups and most were nationally televised. There was plenty of talent in these games, and some big names played well.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Sunday notes

January 19, 2015 by


It was a bad weather day outside, but fortunately we play the games indoors. Prep schools took center stage on a busy Sunday with some good talent and good games all the way to the end.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Saturday notes

January 18, 2015 by


The Spalding Hoophall Classic picked up on Saturday, with a few good games, a couple of blowouts, then the best game of the day at the end. There was also plenty of good talent in each game.

2015 Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic – Sunday notes

January 14, 2015 by


Sunday was the day for a trip a little down the road from Saturday’s destination to check out some prep school action. We take a look at some notes from the day’s games in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic.

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.