NPS Day 1 Preview
With the National Prep Showcase scheduled to kickoff Friday morning at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, it’s as good a time as ever to take a look at the talent that will be on full display over the weekend and also take a look back at some of the players and coaches who have helped put these basketball programs in the national spotlight.
Notre Dame Prep vs Fork Union Military Academy
ND Prep: With the additions of Travis Atson and Kejuan Johnson to his program this season, Coach Ryan Hurd acquired two of the most explosive scoring wings in New England. The ability to spread the floor will open things up for UMass commit Chris Baldwin. The 6’8” power forward is still the heart and soul of another tough and rugged Notre Dame squad.
Hoop History: A longtime perennial powerhouse under former head coach and current Pittsburgh assistant Bill Barton, the Crusaders have been under the direction of Ryan Hurd for the last eight years. In 2012, Hurd welcomed an Australian center named Steven Adams to their program. He quickly got a taste of what elite basketball looked like as he squared off against Nerlens Noel at the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, MA. To say Adams adjusted quickly would be an understatement, as the 7’ center was the 13th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft after just one season at Pittsburgh.
FUMA: 6’4” Shooting Guard Charles Minlend leads a balanced uptempo attack for a Fork Union program that applies pressure and gets up and down in a hurry. Minlend, who has visited George Washington and Rutgers, is comfortable attacking the basket and shooting from the outside. Fork Union also has an inside presence with a frontline of 7’ Malik Kuwornu, 6’8” Corey Douglas, and 6’8” Eddie Johnson-Clayton.
Hoop History: The Fork Union program has produced it’s fair share of basketball products, including former UNC star Shammond Williams, but the face of the program is undoubtedly former head coach Fletcher Arritt. In his 42-years at the helm, Coach Arritt sent over 450 players to the college ranks and tallied over 800 wins.
South Kent vs Hargrave Military Academy
South Kent: The Cardinals bring back one of the most entertaining players from the 2014 National Prep Showcase, as Tremont Waters combined for 36 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists in victories over Fishburne and Vermont Academy. Waters is a unanimous top-50 recruit in the Class of ’17, whose ability to hit from outside and create for his teammates keeps opposing defenses on constant edge. His running mate, Seton Hall commit Myles Powell, can’t be slept on and gives South Kent one of the best backcourts in this year’s Showcase.
Hoop History: South Kent boasts one of the most impressive alumni lists in the country. The program has produced NBA Draft Picks Andray Blatche (currently playing in China), Ricky Ledo, Russ Smith, and Maurice Harkless in recent years, but the player making the biggest impact might be one of their smallest alumni. 5’9” Isaiah Thomas is currently leading the Boston Celtics in points (20.8ppg) and assists (6.6apg) while proving to be one of the toughest covers in the entire league.
Hargrave: Ohio State pledge Derek Funderburke leads a balanced attack for a program that has churned out its fair share of NBA players as well. The 6’9” power forward combines with 6’6” VCU-commit De’Riante Jenkins and 6’ Miami (OH)-commit Braxton Beverley to give Hargrave weapons at every level. With depth and skill, Hargrave’s attacking style has entertained crowds for the last 10 years.
Hoop History: Coach A.W. Hamilton joined the staff in 2005, learning under Kevin Keatts before taking over for him once Keatts made the jump to Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville. In his ten years with the program, Hamilton has helped produce the likes of NBA rookies Terry Rozier (Boston Celtics) and Montrezl Harrell (Houston Rockets), who both went from Hargrave to Louisville before being drafted.
St. Thomas More vs IMG Academy
STM: Jere Quinn’s teams haven’t necessarily needed a superstar to be succesful in the past, but he won’t complain about having one this season. Omari Spellman is a 6’9” man-child headed to Villanova next year, giving Quinn a dominant player to work through in the post. The ’15-’16 version of St. Thomas More also features a productive guard in Christian Vital (UNLV) and a treasure trove of high-level wings with 6’6” Charlie Brown (St. Joe’s), 6’6” Michael Sagay (Boston College) and duel Iona commits 6’4” EJ Crawford and 6’6” Kai Mitchell.
Hoops History: Former UNC point guard Ed Cota walked through the halls of St. Thomas More in the early-90’s, but the program is probably best known for developing current Detroit Pistons double-double machine Andre Drummond. Drummond came to STM from Capital Prep in Hartford and became a well-known name in the NEPSAC shortly thereafter. He led St Thomas More to a National Championship in 2011 alongside current Louisville forward Damion Lee and is well on his way to becoming a perennial NBA All Star.
IMG: John Mahoney’s program has become a well-known commodity on the national level in a relatively quick time. This year’s squad features one of the most talented players in the country, in 6’9” Florida State pledge Jonathon Isaac. A unanimous 5-star recruit, Isaac is brimming with potential and has range out to 22-feet.
Hoops History: Mahoney arrival helped propel IMG’s program to the highest levels of prep school basketball. He’s already developed one NBA player in Syracuse’s one-and-done forward Chris McCullough, and last year produced JaQuan Lyle who is currently starring in his freshmen season at Ohio State.