Prep Profile - South Kent
Last season was a year of firsts for South Kent’s basketball program…
Their first in Class AA of the NEPSAC as well as the return of head coach Bill Barton to the prep ranks after the former Notre Dame Prep mastermind spent the previous decade roaming the college sidelines at places like Duquesne and Pittsburgh.
It also proved to be a season of growth as the South Kent team hit some bumps in the road early but ended up being one of the toughest outs in all of Class AA, culminating with a dramatic semi-final game in the NEPSAC tournament against the eventual champions, Tilton.
This year, the names on the roster are different – totally different in fact, with not one returning player – but the theory will be the same.
Competition and transparency are big themes as Barton may be the only coach who consistently updates and posts his depth chart throughout the course of the year so his players have an honest sense of where they stand based on how they’re playing on a daily basis.
Nigel Haughton, Sean Bresnan, Manasseh Small, and Doug Alves have been some of the most consistent guys this fall. Haughton is a long and lean point guard from Maryland who is ultra-reliable as he defends, competes, and runs the show.
Small, who made his New England debut at last June’s Elite 75 College Showcase, arrived in great shape in September and is like a heat-seeking missile on his way to the basket as he goes right through contact. Alves, who had a storied career playing under his father at Bridgewater-Raynham in Massachusetts, has shown the skill and creativity with the ball he was known for in high school while simultaneously differentiating himself with the ability to defend the length of the floor.
Bresnan is as tall a player as South Kent has on their roster at 6-foot-5 but he’s more of a floor-spacing forward who can drill threes and make hard straight-line drives.
Jack Henderson, Austin James, Arion Lewis, and Darian Butler are also potential scholarship candidates in the 2019 class. Henderson is a shot-making specialist with good size on the wing. James was one of the better players in upstate New York last year and another shooter with a smooth release. Lewis is a long guard with tools to both make plays and defend. Butler is a Rhode Island native who was previously committed to RIC in the class of 2018 but has been one of the Cardinal’s most pleasant surprises this fall.
It doesn’t get any younger then the class of 2020 on this year’s South Kent roster but that is likely where the team’s best long-term prospects lie. Mekhi Gray is a long, lefty wing from New York who plays as long as he looks and has a natural instinct for getting to the rim. Josh Reaves is a repeat junior from Notre Dame Fairfield and a bully of a forward with a thick, powerful build and an aggressive attacking mentality. South Kent also welcomes a pair of Swedish imports in Amin El Amrani, a product of the country’s u18 national team, and a bigger guard in Christopher Lim.
Lots of teams talk about playing four or five guards together but South Kent will actually do it. Without a true big man on the roster, they don’t have any other options. They’ll try to take advantage of their quickness and speed but will need to rely on their toughness and grit to compensate for their lack of size.
This is a different type of South Kent team than we’ve seen in the past, not just because of their size, but because this isn’t a group that was built on big names. Instead, this is a group full of guys who have something to prove and the vast majority of them have a chance to earn a scholarship in the process. Put it all together and they won’t be Class AA’s favorite, but they’ll very likely be a team no one wants to play, especially late in the season.