Frosh/Soph Best of the Rest pt.1

NERR Staff | Monday, September 25th, 2023

Frosh/Soph Best of the Rest pt.1

In the ever-evolving landscape of high school basketball, it's not uncommon for exceptional underclassmen to sometimes fly under the radar in the midst of a vast talent pool. However, the revival of the Elite 75 Frosh/Soph showcase, after its hiatus since 2019, has brought to the forefront a new generation of young hoopers. In this article, we aim to shed light on some outstanding underclassmen who may have been overlooked in the midst of a large and competitive field, highlighting their potential and the impact they are poised to make.

Ji Gray is an impressive 6'1 shifty guard known for his exceptional ability to blow past defenders. One of his standout attributes is his finishing skills around the basket, which make him a reliable scorer. Gray possesses the unique talent to dissect opposing defenses, breaking them down with his agile and precise ball-handling, allowing him to effortlessly reach his preferred spots on the court. Given his remarkable skills and potential, it's safe to say that Ji Gray has the potential to be one of the most promising freshman guards in Connecticut this year, and his performance will undoubtedly be closely watched by the NERR staff. His ability to navigate through opponents and execute scoring plays is truly noteworthy, setting him apart as a standout talent.

Jervon Brown emerged as a significant standout during the event, showcasing his immense talent as part of the class of 2027. Brown's remarkable physical attributes include his impressive height and athleticism, which contribute to his excellence on both offense and defense. He has proven to be a formidable force on the boards, displaying strength and tenacity when grabbing rebounds. Furthermore, Brown's agility and quick decision-making enable him to excel in transition plays, as he efficiently runs the floor to contribute to his team's fast-break opportunities. Notably, he possesses a quick and effective spin move, allowing him to secure some impressive baskets at the rim.

Christopher Taylor from Newman School exhibits promising potential, standing tall at an impressive 6 feet 6 inches and boasting a robust frame. His physical attributes alone set him apart. What particularly caught our attention was his ability to throw down dunks, displaying both power and finesse in his play. Additionally, Taylor's basketball IQ shone through when he made an astute read, swiftly intercepting a pass to secure a steal, and then demonstrating his versatility by embarking on a coast-to-coast drive. 

Donovan Clement, a 6'5" wing, made an impressive impact during his freshman year at Moses Brown, ranking third in Rhode Island for three-pointers made (3PM). His basketball IQ is notable, and he effectively utilizes his length on the defensive end. Clement's shooting ability is outstanding, as he demonstrates exceptional accuracy from beyond the arc. Moreover, he is evolving into a versatile player who can create scoring opportunities by skillfully employing shot-fakes to exploit close-outs and drive into the lane for plays executed with precision on two feet.

Elijah Ibidapo, a versatile 6'4" wing/forward in the class of 2027, possesses a  6'11" wingspan, which significantly contributes to his defensive ability. He excels as a shot-blocker and is highly effective as a weak-side help defender. His rebounding abilities extend beyond his immediate area, making him a valuable asset on the boards. Ibidapo's basketball IQ is evident in his ability to play with precision on two feet, a skill that enhances his overall game. Remarkably, he exhibits the versatility to guard a wide range of positions, from 1 to 5, showcasing his defensive adaptability. Despite being a young member of the 2027 class, having recently turned 14 in June, Ibidapo's offensive capabilities are already impressive, knocking down three-pointers and mid-range pull-ups.

Syre Gillespie just recently started playing competitive basketball. Currently, he hones his skills while playing at Capital Prep, where his father has established a longstanding presence as coach of the basketball program, and he stood out as a versatile, relentless defender. Gillespie's family has a rich basketball tradition, with his older brother making his mark at New Haven, and his sister achieving a remarkable milestone by becoming a WNBA pick in 2020. Notably, his sister's accomplishments extended to coaching, as she now holds a coaching position at Marist.

Ryan McLaughlin exemplifies the qualities you'd anticipate in a coach's son: intelligence, particularly as a point guard. His fearless demeanor on the court is evident as he takes on any challenge, and he invests significant effort in his defensive game, showcasing his commitment to being a well-rounded player.

Caleb Chapman caught our attention with his exceptional ability to influence the game through the pick and roll. His proficiency as a roll man is highlighted by his keen floor awareness, enabling him to make precise adjustments to position himself effectively. What sets Chapman apart is his composure and decision-making when in possession of the ball, consistently making the correct choices to initiate and direct the offense.

Declan Moriarty showcases impressive ball-handling skills that stand out. He leverages this strength effectively on the offensive end, using his exceptional handles to navigate around defenders and create scoring opportunities at various levels. Moriarty's ability to maneuver and hit shots makes him a versatile offensive threat, capable of contributing across the court.

Bryan Wilson boasts an impressive basketball lineage as the cousin of Justise Winslow, a 2015 NCAA Tournament Champion with Duke and a 2016 NBA Second Team All-Rookie honoree. Wilson himself showcased a well-rounded game, leaving a mark with his ability to make intelligent plays on the court. This familial connection to basketball excellence seems to have contributed to his basketball IQ and versatile skill set, making him a notable player to watch for his ability to impact various aspects of the game.

Christian Cournoo is a highly versatile guard/wing player who excels in multiple facets of the game. He demonstrates a strong ability to drive to the basket effectively, while also maintaining consistency in his long-range shooting. As he continues to develop physically and refine his skills, Cournoo is one to note moving forward.

Ben Safran, now a member of New Hampton, is a standout for his exceptional long-range shooting skills. He exhibits the remarkable ability to consistently knock down shots from beyond the arc, and what sets him apart is his quick release, enabling him to get his shots off with precision and speed. 

Kosi Udeh, representing Phillips Andover, possesses an impressive skill set, with a particular focus on his defensive skills. His combination of length and athleticism allows him to excel on this end of the court. Moreover, Udeh has demonstrated the ability to rise above defenders and execute finishes with finesse. Looking ahead, the dynamic partnership he forms with Hunter Peabody in the 2026 class promises to be intriguing and holds great potential.

Michael Tran is a dedicated and hardworking player known for his relentless hustle on the court. He consistently makes sound decisions at both ends, contributing to his team's success. As a glue guy, Tran's tenacity and commitment to the game make him a valuable asset, and he has also displayed potential for further growth, adding to his overall value as a player.

Lucas Miele is a sharpshooter known for his impressive range, capable of sinking shots from virtually anywhere on the basketball court. His remarkable performance, including hitting nearly 10 three-pointers throughout the day across various game sets, highlights his proficiency from beyond the arc. As a rising talent, Miele is undoubtedly one to keep an eye on in the CIAC, as he continues to make waves with his scoring ability and long-range shooting prowess.

Ray Fernandez is a notable guard known for his larger physical presence on the court, complemented by a tight and controlled ball-handling ability. His shooting technique features a compact release. Fernandez's athleticism enables him to elevate when needed, and his versatility extends to rebounding beyond his designated area. His scoring capabilities shine both in catch-and-shoot situations and when taking shots off the dribble, making him a well-rounded asset on the floor.

Connor Greaney, a vital component of the emerging 2027 core at St. Sebastian's, brings a dynamic presence as a wiry point guard. His standout attribute is his exceptional finishing ability around the basket, showcasing finesse and skill in close quarters. Greaney further elevates his game with the capability to sink clutch three-pointers.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's article giving another look at some more underclassmen from the events.