CIAC Season Preview
The 2012-13 season promises to be another exciting year in Connecticut with wide open races in every class and big shoes to fill for individual supremacy as well.
Capital Prep lost in last year's final to Immaculate but returns one of, if not the, best backcourts in the state, led by USC commit Kahlil Dukes. Dukes was the leading freshman scorer in the nation during his maiden campaign, worked on creating for others and broadening his skill-set as a sophomore and proceeded to show us the entire package last year. This year, he and Levy Gillespie Jr. will look to lead Capital back to the Mohegan Sun and claim the first title in the school's brief history. Forward Brandon Marshall will compliment the Longhorns backcourt and provide a stable body up front. Capital will play with a target on its back all season long and an early season test against defending Class L champ Career with be a valuable experience. Kolbe Cathedral's Ian Gardner looks to take his game to the next level this season and help Kolbe get back to the level of success that they were accustomed to in the early-2000s. After winning it all last season, Immaculate gets bumped up a division this season.
"Wide Open" only begins to describe the situation in CT's second smallest division in 2012-13. Watertown dismantled Ledyard last season 69-47 in the most lopsided CIAC final of the year but they won't be back to defend their crown as they move to Class L. Valley Regional, led by do-it-all point guard Jon Luster should be in the mix this season and an early meeting with Cromwell will give both teams a barometer as to what they have in store this year. Immaculate and Waterford, who went 26-1 and 25-2 respectively last season, have some giant shoes to fill in their starting lineups but can never be counted out. Bethel's Daniel Garvin arrived on the recruiting scene in a big way last season and, after committing to Bryant, looks to add some team success to his resume. Tolland could be a sleeper in this class if Taylor Fortin can continue to flourish in a leadership role and add to the 19 ppg and 5 assists that he averaged last season. University returns many key contributors from a team that went 17-7 a year ago including senior guard Kadian Hall, swingman Michael Greggs, and junior small forward Jaqhawn Walters. Notre Dame Fairfield has a lethal senior tandem in the backcourt with Danny Upchurch and Earl Coleman while Foran and Keynor Tech have weapons up front with Austin Woods and Trevon Gibbs respectively.
The two largest divisions in CT high school hoops will be interesting from beginning to end this season. Northwest Catholic and Career will both need balanced attacks in order to get back to Mohegan Sun, after losing many of their top performers from a year ago. Wilby-Waterbury pushed Career to the brink in a great semifinal matchup and return powerful point guard Walter Wright along with his backcourt mate Taifia Wright.
Wilby won’t be the only contender from the NVL as Watertown and Naugatuck will also pose threats. Watertown returns the senior tandem of Jon Mitchell and Eddie Hill, who combined to average over 30 poitns and 15 rebounds per game last season. Brandon Kuczenski and Husani Foote form an imposing interior pair for Naugatuck while Gabe Pulliam and Mick Pernell will be equally formidable in the backcourt.
Startford will once again go as far as senior PG Bernard Brantley can carry them. Trinity Catholic has a high level guard of their own in Schadarac Casimir, along with swingman Brandon Wheeler. Kobe Ancrum and Demetrius Young could be a formidable inside-out tandem for Bassick while Winston Morgan and Baylen Eason could do the same for East Catholic.
Two other teams from the CCC will be interesting to watch this season. Maloney is led by explosive guard Jahlil Askew and gave some of the top teams in the conference fits at times last season. Obi Momah stepped into the spotlight during the CIAC Tournament last season and should be a force for an emerging Farmington team.
Wilbur Cross could be on the verge of a big season behind the junior tandem of Chan Williams-Bey and Shane Christie while Bunnell has a one-two punch of their own in Isaac Vann and Matt Nolting. Dominic Migliaro will need to step up for Masuk, but they’ll get a boost when Mat Gerak returns from injury next month.
St. Joseph's will have a different coach on the sidelines for the first time in 50 years after Vito Montelli stepped down after last year's title run and left the program in the hands of Chris Watts. The Cadets have one of the best players in the state in junior swingman Quincey McKnight and will once again be a formidable bunch. That said, Hillhouse, Windsor, New London and Fairfield Prep will be worthy adversaries atop LL.
Hillhouse is once again loaded from top to bottom and will run two lines of conditioned athletes at their opponents for 32 minutes. They’ll have weapons inside and out with seniors Andre Anderson, Bobby Bynum, and Chase Daniels along with juniors Quaran Sturges and Raiquan Clark. Windsor lost a lot of experience but has junior swingman Jared Wilson-Frame back and ready to prove that he can carry the team while big man Jaquan Harrison has the talent to be one of the state’s top interior threats. Kurt Reis' Hartford Public team is led by Daylon Ore and will also be a big problem in their own right come tourney time. Glastonbury has Jordan Butler in the middle and Janvier Johnson at the point while Manchester and New Britain will also be tough outs in the CCC.
Ridgefield will be led by Vermont bound forward Kurt Steidl, who could become this season’s version of Terry Tarpey, along with sharp-shooting guard Jeff Racy. Tarpey’s former squad, Fairfield Prep will have the luxury of adding seven-foot center Paschal Chukwu, who teams with senior forward Tim Butala. Marcus Blackwell and Bridgeport Central will also be formidable while the addition of Alex Wolf will benefit Greenwich. Staples (featuring Peter Rankowitz), McMahon (Larry McKinney), Amity (Zac Campbell), Norwalk (Roy Kane) and Crosby (Tyshon Rogers) may also have the horses to contend in what should be the most hotly contested Class in Connecticut this season.
Players to Watch
Kahlil Dukes, 6'0” Guard, Capital Prep: Southern Cal commit has the ability to do anything necessary for his team to win. Look for that to happen a lot this season.
Paschal Chukwu, 7'2" Center, Fairfield Prep: Transfers from Trinity Catholic and looks to add a few more dimensions to his constantly improving post game this season.
Bernard Brantley, 6'1" Guard, Stratford: One of the top scoring guards in the state, Brantley has the ability to drop 30 on any given night. Northwest Catholic learned that the hard way in the postseason.
Jared Wilson-Frame, 6'4" Wing, Windsor: Could be this season's breakout star in an area that lost Kuran Iverson. Has unlimited range and the guts of a burglar.
Kurt Steidl, 6'6" Forward, Ridgefield: Vermont-commit will lead by example and hopes to put his team in the conversation come March.
Jordan Butler, 6'7" Forward, Glastonbury: Flying under the radar a little bit coming into the season but that won't be the story once teams get tape on this rebounding machine.
Quincey McKnight, 6'3" Wing, St Joseph's: Will be the main man now that Timajh Parker and James Jennings are gone. Program is in good hands.
Daniel Garvin, 6'7" Forward, Bethel: Explosive athlete has to put the team on his shoulders this season.
Obi Momah, 6'7" Forward, Farmington: Another candidate for breakout star, Momah proved he could be the focal point of an offense during the postseason.
Walter Wright, 6'0" Guard, Wilby: If he can produce at the same rate he did in last year's final game against Career, Wright will be one of the best players CT has to offer.