Prep Previews - Independents
New England has a growing number of independent prep schools. Putnam Science Academy and Woodstock Academy are the most notable, but there are plenty others, and whether they compete in the Power 5 Conference, GNAC, or something else, they’re becoming an increasingly relevant part of the local landscape.
Here’s a look at three such programs that every college coach and local prep school fan needs to be familiar with:
The Pandas continue to have a distinct international theme to their top prep team as there are 11 different players from the team who hail from outside the United States. Veljko Radakovic, a 6-foot-8 forward from Serbia, signed with Maine last month and provides a heady and skilled four-man who can cause all kinds of match-up problems. He’s joined up front by Arseniy Semenov, who is in his third year with the program from his native Russia, and provides similar versatility with the physical strength necessary to bang inside but an expanded face-up skill set. Cyrille Diop, a 6-foot-9 big man from France, is the latest addition and already holds an offer from Western Illinois allow with several division II suitors. Julius Raudonius is a seven-foot big man in the class of 2020 while Julian Eziukwu is another mountain of a man up front.
Yacine Toumi, a big 6-foot-7 wing, is the most naturally talented player and best long-term prospect on the roster. Toumi has dual citizenship in both France and Tunisia and has been a staple of the Tunisian junior national team over the years.
Mikey West is one familiar name on the roster. The Connecticut native has put up big numbers while winning a pair of state championships in the CIAC in recent years and is already playing a prominent role for the Pandas. Point guard Jordan Jackson and shot-maker Brandon Smith provide two more valuable guards from upstate New York while Canadian native Stefan Miljenovic provides a budding big point guard in the class of 2020.
RCA has one of the more intriguing prospects left on the board in Tony Goodwin II. In a day and age in which everyone claims they’re positionless, Goodwin may actually be, at least on the defensive end of the floor. He’s powerful, mobile, and aggressive with a high motor and can also attack downhill, play above the rim, and make his fair share of open shots as well.
Another newcomer already playing a crucial role is Eden Holt, an undersized point guard from Texas who picked up an offer from Saint Peter’s in the MAAC last week. What Holt may lack in size who compensates for with heart, intelligence, and skill. Makarois Russell, a young senior who is expected to return for a post-graduate year, is also expected to be an important contributor in the backcourt.
Up front, the team has a pair of returners who could both be on the verge of big seasons. Jordan Kellier is a 6-foot-6 southpaw forward who is a powerful and explosive athlete. While he’s an absolute beast around the rim, he’s also developed himself into a reliable mid-range jump-shooter out to about 18 feet. James Kamich is a 6-foot-10 big man in the class of 2020 in his second season here from the South Sudan. He’s very mobile for his size and able to change ends well but also has deceptively soft touch facing the basket.
Marial Mading is the leading man here but he’s not staying around for long with an early arrival at Rhode Island planned for mid-year. Nevertheless, Mading has made gigantic strides during his time in Springfield, both with the development of his body and his game.
The team will need to redefine itself a bit after losing Mading but there’s talent across the line-up and especially up front. Josiah Marable is a wide-bodied big man who is light on his feet with soft hands and touch. Tyrone Victor, who has transferred in from Kimball Union Academy, looks to be in the best shape of his career and ready to make more of a consistent impact.
The addition of Daniel Ogoro is significant on the perimeter as he’s extremely versatile with the size of a wing but the mindset of a point guard. He’ll join Mohamed Traore, who is returning to Massachusetts following a short stint in New Jersey, and Valentin Smith, an extremely high-level athlete in the class of 2020 who is back for his second season.
Aaron Gray is a reclassified junior and one of the leading men on the wing. The Rhode Island native has been credited early for his work-ethic and leadership and will need to play an important role for the rest of the season. Emmanuel Ferreras, a 6-foot-5 perimeter player from the Dominican Republic, is an obvious talent and one of the team’s best long-term prospects while Jahwuan Smith is a Canadian native in the 2020 class who can score the ball in bunches.