MPA Midseason Report
The Maine high school scene was elevated to heights previously unseen during the 2022-2023 season, when JP Estrella (then at South Portland HS) & Cooper Flagg (then at Nokomis HS) blew up as national prospects of the highest caliber. This year, with a couple of weeks remaining in the MPA season, the state has much more uncertainty regarding who will be crowned state champions or who will be named Mr. Basketball or Gatorade Player of the Year.
Brewer High School (Class A/Brewer, ME) sits at 14-0 and is led by senior standouts Brady Saunders and Brock Flagg. Saunders, a 6’3” guard, has been a consistent and assertive force, regularly scoring in the mid-twenties. At 6’0” with a sturdy frame, Flagg gets downhill with a mix of craft and force, regularly scoring at the rim against much taller opponents. Both players would also have to be included in any list of top defenders in the state.
Oxford Hills (Class AA/South Paris, ME) has compiled a 13-1 record, with their lone loss coming while one of their top players was out sick. 6’7” wing Teigan Pelletier (‘24) is the most highly regarded prospect in the MPA ranks. Pelletier has shown to be an efficient scorer, averaging around 20 ppg, but it’s his tenaciousness on the offensive glass and his ability to make winning plays in the final minutes of close games that have stood out as separating factors. 5’11” point guard Cole Pulkkinen (‘23) has put himself in the conversation as one of the top playmakers in the state. A recent 32-point performance against Cheverus in a matchup with several of the state’s top guards left no doubt that he should be in the running for All-State recognition.
Thornton Academy (Class AA/Saco, ME) checks in at 12-2, with perhaps the most quality depth of any program in the state. 6’4” point guard Will Davies (‘23) may be the frontrunner for Mr. Basketball. Perhaps the most prolific offensive engine in the state, Davies is a threat to record a triple-double every time he suits up. 5’9” guard Braden Camire (‘23) might be the best marksmen from downtown in Maine, which pairs well with Davies’ creation ability. 6’5” forward Aleesio Marcus (‘23) is a powerfully built and athletic big with a soft touch who can step out and stretch the floor. 6’1” guard Wyatt Benoit & 6’4” Trey Eldred are both sophomores who are capable of finishing in double-digits in the scoring column on any given night.
Silvano Ismail (Cheverus/2023) - No one has been more consistent as a scorer against the top defenses in the state than the 6’2” Ismail, averaging over 25 points per contest in Class AA North. Playing off the ball more this year, Ismail has been able to get to his spots in the mid-range, put pressure on the rim and draw fouls, and shoot from deep with a high level of efficiency, as well as being in the conversation for the top on-ball defender in Maine.
Chance Mercier (Ellsworth/2024) - Mercier has dominated the Class B North competition this year, including a 47-point explosion in a game in which he also scored his 1,000th career point, which he followed with a 41-point performance just days later. A player who almost seems to prefer playing through contact, the 6’0” guard is as competitive a player as you will find in the state.
Jaelen Jackson - (South Portland/2023) - The 5’11” point guard is trying to follow up leading South Portland to their first state title in decades with another deep tournament run. Doing it without former running mate JP Estrella (Brewster/Tennessee commit) will be a much taller task, but Jackson has the Red Riots right in the mix, leading his squad in scoring at over 18 per game while running one of the highest scoring offenses in Class AA. The dynamic guard also checks in with 4.5 assists and 2.9 steals per contest.
Yusuf Dakane - (Lewiston/2024) - Strength, speed, competitive fire, creative finishing, and an improved perimeter shot - Dakane has it all in the bag and more. An offensive dynamo who is the constant focus of every opponent’s defensive attention, the 5’10” Dakane has taken on the role of running the team’s halfcourt offense and excelled, leading a Blue Devils team who graduated most of their rotation to an 11-3 record.
Zach McLaughlin - (Hampden/2024) - The skilled 6’2” junior guard is averaging over 21 points per game, while keeping his Broncos in the mix in AA North. A true three-level scorer, McLaughlin thrives in the mid-range.
Remi Wani - (Portland/2023) - Wani is finding his groove after returning from a late-season football injury. One of the best players statewide on both sides of the ball, the 6’3” senior has been locking down the opponent’s top scorers and regularly making big shots down the stretch of games, including his 20-point effort in a win over Thornton Academy which knocked the Trojans from the undefeated ranks.
Jason Reynolds - (Winslow/2023) - The 6’4” senior, who recorded his 1,000th career point earlier this year, has been putting up monster numbers for the Raiders (13-1) in Class B, regularly scoring in the mid-to-high thirties, while also leading the state in rebounds.
Will Kusnierz - (Dexter/2023) - The 6’4” versatile wing is the best small-school player in the state, leading Dexter (Class C) to a sterling 13-1 record. Recently recorded a 38-point, 17 rebound effort to keep his Tiger squad at the top of the standings.