Five members of the Middlesex Magic AAU program are now officially heading to the division III level after acceptance of their respective early decision applications.
St. John's Prep star Harry ONeil is bound for Johns Hopkins University. O'Neil has been a member of the Magic for his entire high school career and selected Johns Hopkins after being recruited by numerous high academic schools. While O'Neil may be best known for his toughness, his offensive game has improved quite a bit in recent years as he's become a versatile scoring threat who can put points on the board with his back to the basket, in ball-screen action or in face-up drive situations. He's also continuing to extend his shooting range and becoming a more consistent three-point threat.
"Harry is one of the toughest, hardest working and most unselfish players I have coached," Magic program director Michael Crotty Jr. said. "He is also one of the best rebounders I have ever coached, and has the physical and mental toughness that will allow him to contribute right away at JHU."
Rivers School big man Ross Carter is headed to Cal Tech after being admitted via early decision. Carter is a throwback style big man who scores with both hands and good touch around the basket but also possesses a solid mid-range jumper. He's also a solid area rebounder and high I.Q. player.
"Cal Tech is one of the most prestigious technical schools in the world and their basketball program was the recent focus of Sports Illustrated," Crotty said. "Carter is the perfect fit because he can continue his high level of academics and help the basketball team as they blaze their trail of success."
Another ISL star, Milton Academy sniper Nick Tupanjanin is headed to Emory University in Atlanta. Emory is one of the finest schools in the country and Tupanjanin selected them after being recruited by a host of other high academic schools. Tupanjanin, who recently dropped 29 points at the Scholar Roundball Classic, is best known for his ability to shoot the ball from long-range, but he's also a solid athlete with an improved ability to put the ball on the floor.
"I think Nick has the total package on offense, and is also a very strong defender and rebounder with his best basketball ahead of him," Crotty said. "I believe he has the ability to be a all-league player in the UAA conference, and I am thrilled to watch him continue his career."
Phillips Exeter Academy post-graduate and Needham alum Jack Alberding is headed to the NESCAC after being admitted early decision to Wesleyan University. The 6-foot-5 swingman is a strong and versatile player capable of playing multiple positions. He too was recruited by a number of high academic schools before deciding to join the defending NESCAC champions where he'll join another Exeter and Magic alum, Harry Rafferty, next season.
"Jack has very deep range on his jump shot, uses the dribble to get to his mid-range jumper and has a very strong post game when smaller guards cover him," Crotty said. "He's a very versatile offensive player."
North of the state border, Trinity High School's Joe Bell has committed to fellow NESCAC power, Trinity College, where he'll join another Magic product, Connor Merinder, who is currently in his freshman season. An explosive athlete on the perimeter who is a known slasher with a consistent pull-up game and improving three-point range, Bell is also a lockdown defender who was a critical component to the Magic's success last spring and summer.
"I have not coached many players with Joe's amazing athleticism and raw explosiveness," Crotty said. "He became one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in our program last year, but as good as he is on offense, I believe he is one of the top two or three on-ball defenders I have ever coached. Additionally, he rebounds on the defensive glass as well as any guard we have had and then turns the ball and leads the fast break. I have coached a lot of players that have gone to the NESCAC, and played in the league myself, and I can say with conviction that I truly believe Joe Bell has a chance to be a NESCAC great."
Alberding and Bell become the 21st and 22nd Magic players to matriculate to the NESCAC since Crotty Jr. became director of the program in 2010. In total, the Magic now have 9 players committed in the 2016 class as O'Neil, Carter, Tupanjanin, Alberding and Bell join Brandon Twitty (Stonehill), Ronan Schwarz (Colby), Brendan Olski and Connor MacIsaac (Washington & Lee).
Three More Commitments from Exeter
Kirsch is headed from New Hampshire to California as he'll continue his career at Claremont McKenna College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country with an acceptance rate of under 10%, pending admission. Kirsch is a versatile 6-foot-5 forward who has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. A product of the Lonw Wolf Athletics AAU program, he is a true inside-out presence who can play both with his back to the basket as well as facing the rim from the periemter. Kirsch is also loaded with intangibles and a captain of this year's Exeter team.
Black, a post-graduate from Wyoming, is returning closer to home with news that he has been accepted to Colorado College. A 6-foot-7 big man with extremely long arms and lots of raw ability, Black is just scratching the surface of his potential and has a very clear upside at the next level. Colorado College is another prestigious liberal arts school located in Colorado Springs in the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
Finally, J.T. Thompson a local Exeter native and senior on the basketball team will be headed to the U.S. Naval Academy next year. A hard-nosed point guard who provides consistent minutes in the Exeter roation, Thompson is another quality piece for a team that is expected to contend for their third NEPSAC title in the last four years.
Coyne also NESCAC Bound
Falmouth (ME) High School's Thomas Coyne will be staying close to home next year. He tweeted earlier this month that he'll be continuing his career at Bates College, another prestigious member of the NESCAC. While Coyne was best known for his ability to be a pure point guard while starring with MBR on the AAU circuit this fall, he's proving his ability to score in bunches during his senior year. In fact, he averaged over 30 points per game to start the year and Falmouth.