NERR Roundtable: Which 2019 Player is Poised to Make a Jump this Season?
In the second part of our NERR roundtable series we asked Mike Yagmin, Luc Smith, Zack Sandberg and Adam Finkelstein which player in New England’s 2019 class was poised to make a jump up in the rankings over the course of the coming season.
MY: I think Charles Coleman will eventually become a consensus top-3 player in New England before his prep career is over. I also think Kyle Layman is going to break out during the high school season and head into the summer as one of the BABC’s core players because genetics usually don’t lie. But I don’t have to go any further than my alma mater to find the player who’s in better position to shoot up the rankings during the ’16-’17 season. I’ve gotta go with Northwest Catholic 6’4” wing Cairo McCrory. NWC is going to rely heavily on McCrory to be their primary offensive weapon but he’ll also have to be head coach John Mirabello’s strongest rebounder, most creative playmaker and even their best post defender at times. McCrory proved that he can produce against the best competition his age group has to offer while running with CBC on the Under Armour circuit this summer. He averaged over 10 points, shooting 56% (42-75) from the field and grabbed almost 5 rebounds a game alongside Chol Marial and Jaiden Delaire. McCrory even showed off an improved 3-point stroke, burying 8 of the 12 shots (66%) from beyond the arc. He’ll ultimately be recruited as a dynamic perimeter prospect at the college level but his fearlessness in the post and 6’9” wingspan will only help his current production. It will also entice college coaches who are looking for a versatile and athletic wing prospect built from the same mold as Northwestern-commit Anthony Gaines. The craziest thing about Coleman, Layman and McCrory is that they can all eventually become prospects in the class of 2020, as they are all “true” sophomores in New England prep terms.
LS: The first time I saw Charles Coleman was about a year and a half ago at the Providence Elite Camp. He was a long, dangly, and uncoordinated 6’6 rising freshman at the Dexter School who just reeked of potential as I watched him run the floor with his strong frame. He played extremely hard and looked like he would grow even taller, thanks to his already large feet. Since then Coleman has grown to 6’10.5”, had a great freshman year at Dexter and has become of the most improved and skilled big men I’ve seen. He now has shoulders like a grown man so he can bully people on the block but also has a great finesse game with his skillful footwork. When I watched him workout I saw elite level pivot moves that developed into spin moves and step back jumpers most 6’10.5” sophomores wouldn’t be able to finish. He can also space the floor and knock down the three ball efficiently in catch-and-shoot situations as well as in the pick-and-pop. His game, size, strength and post-game make him a dream big, but he can also handle the ball like a guard and may even bring the ball up the floor at times this season for Dexter. Coleman is a relatively unknown prospect in New England right now because he was not on the grassroots circuit this spring and summer. Instead, he bought into to his coach's insight that developing his skills was more important than "getting noticed." As a young big with talent, versatility and coach-ability, Charles should see a lot of success this winter and, when he returns to the grassroots circuit this spring, he’ll have a lot of high level coaches start following his progress.
ZS: I think Jimmy Yfantopulos has a chance to make a jump. With his size and build he’s not the type of guy who has an immediately noticeable upside but the NEPSAC will provide a bigger stage for him to prove himself against better competition and high I.Q. point guards tend to do very well in AA. The lefty is one of the quickest players in New England with the ball in his hands and uses his craftiness to attack the basket and either score or dump it off to his big man. What's most impressive is his toughness, he never backs down from a challenge on the defensive end, and when you match that with his natural leadership abilities and instincts and there’s no doubt Jimmy Yfantopulos is a player on the rise.
AF: I’ve said it many times in the past but evaluating underclassmen is tricky business because you’re both identifying potential and then trying to project who is most likely to turn that potential into production. Being able to identify “upside” isn’t necessarily that daunting of a challenge, although there are undoubtedly other late bloomers who have yet to reveal themselves. Size, length, athleticism and skill are all requisites but less obvious is character and competitiveness. In this day and age of grassroots basketball, where we celebrate youngsters so early on in the process, it becomes way too easy for them to get satisfied far too quickly. More often than not, the youngster on the verge of a jump is the one who isn’t satisfied and has no sense of entitlement. That’s why my choice is Brycen Goodine. Yes, he’s already ranked pretty high, but in large part because of the reasons I’m articulating here. He has obvious physical upside but has proven he’s willing to put in the work to continue expanding his game, specifically his skill set. Simultaneously, he’s shown toughness and perspective at a young age. He wasn’t 100% this spring and summer but wasn’t worried about protecting any ranking or reputation, only helping his team win. Now that he’s fully healthy and at St. Andrew’s, he’s going to have a chance to produce against a higher level of competition than he’s seen to date. I’m betting he does just that.