#NEHF reveals unprecedented depth & balance in grassroots ranks
There were a lot of takeaways from last weekend’s Northeast Hoops Festival as the amount of talent in the gym spoke for itself and various teams and players were able to make a statement. Perhaps the most significant theme though was the unprecedented amount of depth in New England’s grassroots ranks.
There has been a hierarchy over the years that has rarely been rattled. New England has had their five sneaker sponsored programs and then a handful of the best non-sneaker sponsored teams on the east coast. A group that has annually been led by the likes of Middlesex Magic, D.C. Blue Devils, Metro Boston, and others has made it very clear that you don’t need to be wearing a certain make of sneaker in order to win at the highest level and produce players for all levels of college basketball.
What’s truly exciting about this 2018 season is that those teams are all still poised to do the exact same thing, but they’re going to have plenty of company.
New England still has their five sponsored programs – Expressions Elite and BABC (EYBL), Mass Rivals and Team New England (Gauntlet), and NE6 (UAA). Middlesex Magic is again deep with prospects for all levels and will be a contender in every field they compete in this year. Metro Boston advanced all the way to the finals of the varsity division this weekend and D.C. Blue Devils have some potential high-major caliber talent as well as a group of rapidly improving college prospects.
This year though, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Rhode Island Elite was the story of the weekend as they captured the 2018 Northeast Hoops Festival championship in the varsity division and did it in convincing fashion. Program cornerstones Jay-Juan Hayes and Steven Lora have been there from the beginning. Deyshawn Tengbeh, Tedrick Wilcox, and Frankyn Batista are now emerging quickly while there’s a series of hard-playing college prospects behind them.
WrightWay Skills has as recruitable a team as there is in New England with prospects for all levels of college basketball including Charles Coleman, Noah Kamba, Jordan Mason, Tayler Mattos, Alex Stoddard, and more.
Beantown Bulls have what appears to be their deepest and most talented program from top to bottom with the likes of Christian Adams, Dan Porcic, Isa Maguire, Kevin Kone, and Mekhi Warren among others.
The same can be said for Mass Elite and Rise Above Basketball as well. Mass Elite has a core of Casey McLaren, John Packard, Christian Beck, and Evan Cook while Rise Above features Dan Schlakman, John Lowther, and Devaun Ford with an equally strong sophomore contingent behind them.
Northern New England looks to be in particularly strong shape. Northeast Elite has ascended with their young talent over the years (Arie Breakfield, Jack Schaake, Alex Tavares) so that they now join the Blue Devils as a program from the Granite State that college coaches can’t afford to miss.
In Maine, Blue Wave Elite is only one class removed from their first D1 pledge with more talent following behind like Ben Onek, Trey Ballew, and Cam Lovejoy among others. Next Level Athletics is also a program on the rise with the likes of Andrew Hartel, Zach Brown, and Logan Bagshaw among others while the Maine Wolverines, Maine Lumberjacks, and Spartan House of Hoops have clear college prospects as well.
In Connecticut, Stamford Peace once again has a roster with legit D1 talent including unsigned seniors (Cantavio Dutreil and Dimitry oise), developing big man Pierry Joseph, and Akim Joseph leading the up and coming young talent in the program. New Haven Heat also appear to be a program on the rise with prospects at all grade levels while Academic Basketball Club has their typical collection of NESCAC, and maybe even Ivy, prospects.
In Massachusetts, Mass Select and Mass Chaos have the central portion of the state in good shape with Justin Vander Baan proving himself an emerging prospect. Evo Elite has tremendous depth including a sophomore class, led by Justin Fitzpatrick, that is a year away from changing the landscape of the varsity division. The Boston Bobcats continue to be loaded with underclassmen while their varsity team has emerging prospects like Matt Price, Amir Louis-Charles, and C.J. Holmberg. LOX is a must see program for colleges looking for still-availables while SECC is rallying Western Massachusetts and Mig’s Team has quality college hopefuls as well. New England Storm/BST is guaranteed to develop college players while you can bet the Boston Warriors will have prospects continue to emerge this spring as well.
In short…there is no short way to sort through all of the talent in New England. Our grassroots landscape appears deeper and more balanced then it has been in recent memory with an unprecedented amount of teams to see and prospects to recruit for college coaches.