BOSTON – The New England Elite 75 Freshman/Sophomore Showcase, now in its third year, has a name that seems a bit of a misnomer if you looked in the gym at Boston University. Each session had more than 75 players competing, all among the youngest players in the high school ranks right now with a stray eighth grader mixed in.
An event like this that includes a large number of relatively unproven players always has some element of luck to it, and this one is no different. The talent was certainly there, and how it develops will be worth watching over the next couple of years.
With that, here’s a look at some players who stood out on Saturday.
Dekeeba Battee (6’8″ So. PF, Cairns (Australia) Northfield Mount Hermon) Athletic forward was probably the most physically impressive player at the event, as he has a good body to go with his athleticism. He was active and showed some ability away from the basket, including a shot from deep.
Kahari Beaufort (6’2″ Fr. PG, East Hartford (CT) High) One of the better point guards we saw here, he has good size for the position and showed solid fundamentals for it as well. He passed well on the go, making a nice alley-oop pass on one break, used a good ball fake to finish another, and knocked down a shot from long range as well.
Jahvaney Beckford (6’1″ So. PG-SG, Woodstock (CT) Hyde School) Well-built guard is not the most athletically gifted but can be tough to stop because of his body. He leaked out a few times and looked a little more like a shooting guard than a point guard, although his size likely dictates him playing the latter position if he is to ultimately play Division I at the next level.
Patrick Benzan (5’10″ Fr. PG, Wellesley (MA) Roxbury Latin School) A floor leader who has won his share of games and is the son of a coach, he acquitted himself well as he is finally healthy. He went by his man for a layup and was content running a team, and showed that when he attacks by going north-south he can make things happen.
Henry Bolton (6’0″ So. PG, Portsmouth (RI) High) Point guard has a good body and a maturity about himself you don’t always see. Some of that comes from being in a military family, as he’s moved around a bit in his life. Here, he showed a good touch shooting the ball and made a couple of nice passes as well, getting his shots in the flow of the offense.
Justin Bristol (6’6″ So. PF, Wakefield (RI) Prout School) Although undersized for the power forward spot, he caught our eye from being aggressive and making plays. He has a good body and made a couple of baskets from different spots at the offensive end, and if he grows more could project to play inside at a higher level.
Rene Castro (6’1″ So. PG-SG, Milton (MA) Beaver Country Day School) One thing is certain: he wants the ball in his hands when the clock is running down. He ended one quarter with a long jumper as time expired on a play he created, and he created all day for himself and teammates. Not only did he score more going right to the basket where the big men were, but he also drove and dished successfully a few times, suggesting he’s moving towards being more of a combo guard.
Andrew Chrabascz (6’6″ So. SF-PF, Portsmouth (RI) Cushing Academy) A very fundamentally solid player, he had a nice showing with a little more ability from the perimeter. He scored a nice basket with a spin move and short baseline jumper, and generally showed better ball skills while continuing to play very well within the team concept to contribute in several ways.
Jake Fay (6’5″ So. SG, Lynn (MA) Brimmer & May School) Right away, a look at him will make you figure he has grown recently, as he looked noticeably taller. While he’s a capable shooter, he didn’t have his best day doing that here, and he also needs to be more ball-tough as he lost the ball often. Chalk up the shooting to an off day, while being more ball-tough is something that he must improve.
Mabor Gabriel (6’7″ So. PF, Manchester (NH) Trinity School) Intriguing prospect is long and doesn’t lack ball skills, although they certainly need a good deal of polish as he carried the ball a couple of times. He’s not the most fluid athlete and is generally raw at the offensive end, but his length and motor give him a chance if he improves the skill package.
Levy Gillespie (6’0″ Fr. PG, Hartford (CT) Capitol Prep Magnet School) One of the best point guards here, many in the gym raved about him and rightly so. He has a good frame and was perhaps the best passer we saw here, as he passed well on the move and found guys who moved without the ball while getting in the lane often. He also disrupted the fast break at the defensive end, for good measure.
Dennis Greene (6’4″ So. SG, Raleigh (NC) Winchendon School) One of the better wings we saw, he has a good body that can get better and showed a good skill package that suggests he should be a key at Winchendon this year. He showed a good touch from mid-range, including off the dribble, and did well going to the basket and handling the ball, finishing with the left hand on one drive.
Braxton Gulley Mabry (6’4″ So. PF, Arlington (MA) High) Undersized power forward has a big body and is active, but didn’t have as good a showing as he did last year at this event. He’s not the most fluid athlete, although he isn’t carrying all bad weight, and at times he wound up reaching in when his man got by him. The name of the game for him is to improve the conditioning first.
Kaleb Joseph (6’2″ So. PG, Nashua (NH) South HS) You can really see this young point guard progressing, as he’s made a clear improvement. A very coachable kid, he was still the very unselfish point guard he usually is, preferring to pass to teammates when he gets in the lane, but he looks more comfortable taking and knocking down mid-range pull-ups when he gets by his man or when a defender backs off him. Continuing to improve that will only make him more dangerous, especially as his body matures and he goes to the basket more.
Asur Madison (5’11″ So. PG, Los Angeles (CA) Worcester Academy) The baby-faced point guard had a nice showing here, driving to the basket and also showing a little touch shooting the ball out to long range. The play that stands out the most came when he was the only player back on a 3-on-1, where he made a nice read to break the play up.
Duby Maduegbunam (6’3″ So. SG, Newton (MA) Trinity Catholic) Not as well-known as his brother, he had a good showing here as he showed off some athleticism. His body has a little ways to go, but he had a bit of a breakout performance here as he finished with authority a couple of times and also knocked down a three-pointer along the way.
Michael McDevitt (6’5″ Fr. PF, Cumberland Center (ME) Greely HS) Post player has a good body for his age and showed some fundamentals at the offensive end. Unfortunately, he didn’t get many touches with a chance to score, so he didn’t stand out from the standpoint of getting a lot of baskets.
Timmance McKinney (6’3″ So. PG-SG, Milton (MA) High) Scoring is his game, and it’s clear he’s very good at it as he was going by his man to score whenever he wanted to. While there wasn’t much defense played here, his ability to drive and score is still noteworthy, and while he also made a nice pass on the break, he’s wired more to score than distribute.
Brian Mukasa (5’9″ Fr. PG, Sharon (MA) High) Lefty point guard isn’t as quick as some of the point guards he went up against, so he wasn’t able to attack often. Still, he competed and showed some of his leadership capabilities, and his body has a good ways to go physically.
Markus Neale (6’1″ Fr. PG-SG, West Roxbury (MA) High) It was a good day for this young guard as he showed off his good scoring ability and got after it the entire time. He’s such a natural scorer that you’d never guess he’s played his share of point guard, as he scored on drives and from mid-range and generally showed good basketball instincts.
Ikemefuna Ngwudo (6’5″ So. SF, Milton (MA) Academy) This talented wing has a body that’s developing and still has a ways to go, and he showed well in some of the drills. In games, he had some good moments that included a nice drive to the basket, and while he didn’t shine there’s a nice intangible about him: he wastes no time admitting he needs to get better. As such, there’s no reason to believe he won’t.
Omar Orriols (6’2″ So. SG, Charlestown (MA) High) Lanky guard showed some offensive ability playing in both sessions, although he didn’t dominate the freshmen. He looked a little shot-happy, although he was making them out to three-point range, and he’s a plus athlete. On the down side, he is very right-handed, as he had a couple chances to finish with the left hand but made the play more difficult by using the right hand.
John Powell (6’7″ PF, Ashland (MA) Brimmer & May School) Lefty post player has been trying to get stronger, and that should enhance his moves on the low post, which already look good. The biggest issue he has continues to be finishing, as he made nice moves constantly but missed his share of close shots that weren’t even contested. Making that more puzzling is that he finished with the right (off) hand successfully a couple of times.
Colin Richey (6’1″ So. PG-SG, Whitinsville (MA) Christian School) Though he’s not the quickest guard, he showed again that he has a knack for finding gaps in the defense and getting to the basket. Sometimes he also uses a hesitation to get by his man as well, and while he didn’t always finish with a man near him, that will improve with added strength as his body still has a ways to go.
Thomas Rivard (6’5″ So. SF, Worcester (MA) Academy) Very much a baby physically, as he’s quite baby-faced in addition to his body, he knocked down a couple of three-point shots, and given his size that could be a big asset down the road if more of his game develops.
Kamari Robinson (6’4″ So. SF, Springfield (MA) Central HS) After playing power forward most of the time with his travel team, he got to play on the wing here and looked good, giving an idea of what he can do since he doesn’t project as a post player. His body is getting better and the ball skills also look better, and his athleticism has already been a known quantity.
Mike Rodriguez (5’8″ Fr. PG, West Roxbury (MA) High) Small point guard played the role of pass-first floor leader very well, as he was constantly finding guys and especially when driving. He also knocked down a shot from deep, which will keep defenses honest if he can do that more, but he shined by creating for others and that’s what he’ll need to do given his size.
Damien Smith (6’1″ Fr. SG-SF, West Roxbury (MA) High) He doesn’t have a defined game, and plays more like a small forward than anything, but he was effective here. He’ll need to improve his perimeter skill set if he doesn’t grow, but right now he’s effective as a garbage man cashing in loose balls and rebounds.
Leon Tambue (5’10″ Fr. PG, Newton (MA) Fessenden School) Talented young guard showed some quickness, one time driving right by his man to score. If he can shoot like a three-pointer he later made right behind a screen suggests, he’ll be able to keep defenders honest.
Idris Taqqee (6’1″ Fr. PG-SG, Boston (MA) Cushing Academy) Athletic guard showed a nice fundamental understanding of the game, as he was constantly in motion without the ball and set good screens. He also showed a nice touch on mid-range jump shots, including off the dribble, and scored going to the basket.
Noah Vonleh (6’7″ So. SF, Haverhill (MA) High) Well-built forward was one of the most impressive prospects here, as he’s grown physically and as a player. His body is still maturing, and when you add that to his athleticism and motor you have a prospect to keep an eye on. Although he got a little too fancy at the times with his dribble in going for show instead of effect, when he drove to the basket he was tough to stop.
Tayon Watson (5’6″ So. PG, Boston (MA) Match Charter School) Quick point guard was constantly on the attack to try to make things happen. But he wasn’t just effective in the halfcourt, as he also beat everyone up the floor for a layup one time.
Other players who caught our attention in limited viewing:
Matthew Gerak (6’3″ So. SG, Monroe (CT) Masuk HS)
Zachary Gilpin (6’3″ Fr. SG, Hampden (ME) Academy)
Frank Monteiro (6’3″ So. SG-SF, Canton (MA) High)
Freddie Oliveria (6’4″ Fr. SF, West Roxbury (MA) High)
Daylon Ore (5’10″ So. PG, Hartford (CT) Public HS)
Connor Reardon (6’3″ So. SG-SF, Salem (MA) High)
Shawn Strickland (5’9″ So. PG, Middletown (CT) High)
Mo Taylor (6’3″ So. SG-SF, Cambridge (MA) Rindge & Latin School)
Jared Terrell (6’2″ So. SG, Weymouth (MA) High)
Shaine Watkins (5’8″ So. PG, Hartford (CT) Weaver HS)