Be Seen Prep Profile – Cheshire Academy
The Cheshire Academy basketball program has stood the test of time and while there have been some peaks and valleys over the years, they’ve been a relative constant on the New England prep landscape for 20+ years now.
One of the most notable of those valleys though, came just a couple of years ago in the summer of 2018, with virtually no returning players or coaches.
Longtime college coach Jim McCarthy was brought in after previous stops at universities like Northeastern, Towson, and Yale among others. He inherited a roster that was young, inexperienced, and lacking the depth necessary to contend in a league like Class AA of the NEPSAC though.
What happened over the course of the next season though set the stage for a rapid rebuilding effort, and it didn’t happen by wins and losses. To the contrary, they lost far more than they won that year, but that never dampened their enthusiasm or standards.
What became clear was that McCarthy had a very unique perspective. He wasn’t here to prove his prowess on the sidelines or boost his win-loss record. He was here to teach kids what it takes to play at the next level – from defensive principles to ball-screen concepts to daily habits and everything in between.
Those standards set the foundation for the program moving forward, and just a year later, they were back in the NEPSAC AA play-offs and producing D1 players again.
This year, they’ve taken another step forward as that once young core has matured alongside new additions to the roster.
Ethan Okwuosa, who arrived alongside McCarthy as a sophomore, is a three-year starter who has grown by leaps and bounds during his time with CA. The wiry lefty has always been a plus-athlete but he’s also become a reliable shooter and accomplished player. He spent the quarantine months building up his body and is college ready with his frame, habits, and two-way game.
Another returning senior is Aidan Godfrey, who is already committed to Swarthmore. While there’s no doubt that Godfrey will be a terrific player at the D3 level, and get a phenomenal education in the process, he’s one of those guys that certainly would have attracted more scholarship attention in a typical grassroots season given his size, strength, and developing inside-out skill-set.
A group of incoming post-grads provide immediate reinforcements. Max Jusianiec is a skilled and versatile 6-foot-6 forward who will team with Godfrey to form what should be an interchangeable and highly effective duo. Jusianiec is also a coach’s son who has a basketball I.Q. to match his impressive physical tools.
Two post-grad guards, Max Polk and Joe Ostrowsky, join Okwuosa in the backcourt. While Polk was out with a sprained ankle when we watched, his early season play has landed him on a number of D1 radars with his combination of skill, size and athleticism in the backcourt.
Ostrowsky is a pure point guard with a very high basketball IQ. He’s a coach on the floor type who always has his head up, sees the floor, processes the game quickly and is also able to knock down open shots.
Perimeter depth is provided by Terence Crowley, a post-grad wing originally from the country of Georgia who spent his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida and is a shooter with athleticism to match, and Niko Petropoulos, a returning senior and southpaw guard who is solid across the board, can play on or off the ball, and knockdown shots.
Junior wing Cole Wissink is also back for his second season. He’s well built with broad shoulders and long arms, able to play through contact on his way to the rim, knock down threes, and beginning to differentiate himself on the defensive end. David Swan is another wing with a strong body who can physically compete on both ends of the floor while Robert Trenkman is expected to contend for consistent minutes but was out of the line-up when we watched.
There’s a group of budding prospects in the class of 2023 to develop as well. Isaiah Riley is a local product and talented two-sport athlete who is currently staring on the gridiron but expected to make a very real impact on the hardwood once the seasons change. Stephan Snagg is a long-armed hybrid forward who has shown a rapid learning curve and some clear long-term potential during his first two months in the program. Jack Cyr is a skilled shooter from nearby Wallingford while Max Somershaf is a bid-bodied wing with a strong frame and solid shooting stroke of his own.
Two years ago, this was a Cheshire Academy starting from scratch and very literally struggling to win a game. Now, they’re one of the most well-coached and respected programs in Class AA with the prospects for all three levels of college basketball and the foundation to keep ascending in the years to come.