Black to Northeastern Headlines Recent Bridgton Commitments
When a team thrives collectively, the individuals within that team almost always benefit personally.
It’s a concept that very few young players truly grasp, that by sacrificing for the good of the team they will ultimately look better and consequently personally benefit before it’s all said and done.
But at Bridgton Academy, players buy into that concept. Certainly the winning pedigree of head coach Whit Lesure helps in that pursuit, but this past season was just the latest example of the Wolverines thriving collectively and the individual players benefiting personally.
Shortly after claiming their fourth NEPSAC Class A championship in the last five years and making a run to the semi-finals of the National Prep Championship, Malik Stith and Garrison Gross achieved their goals as Stith proved he could play at the highest level by committing to St. John’s and Gross earned the right to play division I college basketball at the Naval Academy.
Now comes four more commitments that have Bridgton products happily finding new homes for next season. First is 6’7” forward Kauri Black who will remain in New England and head to Northeastern University where he will join a Husky program that is expected to be among the favorites in the Colonial Athletic Association. Black is an incredibly athletic combo-forward who can make a variety of plays around the rim at either end of the floor as well as put the ball on the deck from the perimeter.
Next up was Bryant Avant’s commitment to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, where he will play for newly appointed head coach Russ Pennell, who served as the interim head coach at the University of Arizona last year, leading the Wildcats to a 21-14 record and a trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Avant is another combo-forward who has the physical strength of a linebacker as well as the skill set to consistently knock down open three-pointers. Grand Canyon is currently a division II school that has begun the process to transfer to the division I level.
Bridgton’s starting center, Chad July, has also made a commitment recently. July, who was verbally committed to High Point at the beginning of the year before opting out in the fall, will now head to division II Flagler College. This is without a doubt a steal for the Flagler program as July was a division I level recruit who had interest from mid-major level programs. For July, it’s an opportunity to join a program where he can have an immediate impact and eventually become one of the cornerstones of the team.
Finally, Justin Rake has accepted a preferred walk-on spot at Louisiana Tech. Rake is said to be thrilled about the opportunity to return to his home state of Louisiana and have a chance to play for head coach Kerry Rupp. He’ll also have the opportunity to be around NBA legend Karl Malone who serves on the coaching staff as the Director of Basketball Promotions. Rake was one of the most lethal three-point shooting threats in Class A this year, and that jump shot may give him enough of a niche to earn some minutes for the Bulldogs next season.