Prep Profile - Springfield Commonwealth Academy
The program has been built from the ground up.
It’s a phrase you hear pretty frequently in the world of sports, but in New England there isn’t a better example in recent years than what head coach Tony Bergeron has done at Springfiefld Commonwealth Academy.
When SCA opened their doors four years ago one of the first things they did was bring Bergeron on board as the basketball coach and athletic director. At the time, the school only featured 50 total students in grades 6-8 but had expansion plans, not only to attract new students but also to grow with their base into the high school grades.
The basketball program followed the same trajectory as they began with a team full of middle school players, sometimes competing against AAU and CYO teams, before progressing into the high school ranks where they have literally spent the last few years playing teams two and their years their senior.
Now, those once 8th graders are current juniors, and the program has also taken on four post-grads for the first time, and so what you have is a team that is in many ways still young, yet uniquely experienced.
Their best attribute though might be their depth. In fact, with upwards of 20 college basketball prospects currently residing in the program, SCA will feature two teams this year dubbed “national” and “regional” squads.
That depth is also critical for the up-tempo pressure system that Bergeron utilizes, as they’re known for their relentless full court pressure on the defensive end and consequent transition attack.
The national roster is headlined by 6-foot-7 junior Hasahn French. While he was a man-child even when he first debuted with the Tornados, he’s proven that he’s capable of taking his game to new levels with each passing year as his athleticism, motor and skill set have all progressed in very consistent fashion resulting several early high-major offers.
Junior point guard Derrick Ellis is another seasoned veteran who is expected to play a key role this year. A quick and shifty point guard who can get into the paint off the bounce as easily as he can lockdown on the defensive end, Ellis is expected to be a leader on both ends of the floor.
The rest of that junior class core includes the likes of Jordan Vidal, Chandler Jones, Jordan Hardwick, Malik Pouncey and Shyheim Hicks who have all literally grown up in the SCA program. Vidal is Ellis’ longtime running mate in the backcourt, who can play both on and off the ball and attack opposing defenses with his speed and strength. Jones is a talented wing player with an ideal combination of size and skill on the perimeter. Pouncy is a pure shot-maker with a proven ability to put the ball in the basket while Hicks is a nice compliment as more of a quick and powerful attacking guard. Hardwick is a weapon in the paint as a long and athletic run and jump athlete.
That 2017 core will be supplemented by four post-grads. Spencer Foley is a pure shooter who comes to Springfield by way of Chicago and is headed to Buffalo next year after signing with Canisius during November’s early signing period. Local product Jon Garcia, who previously starred at nearby Putnam, is also scholarship bound after committing to Dominican this fall. Chris Garcia, an under-the-radar physical talent from Connecticut, should thrive in Bergeron’s system and so might not be far behind on the scholarship track, while Chris Garcia will add some additional size and mobility to the frontcourt rotation.
While the 2017 class has been the face of the program from day one and the 2016 class now gives an infusion of post-graduate talent, the best long-term prospect on the team might be 2018 forward Arashma Parks. The younger brother of St. Thomas More forward, Villanova pledge and national top 25 prospect Omari Spellman, Parks has a similar combination of power, agility and soft hands. His body and physical tools have evolved quite a bit in the last year and so while he already holds early D1 offers, he could certainly be on the verge of a breakout season.
Fellow sophomores Cameron Sells and Anthony Kelley are bound to be more signature pieces down the road but currently join the likes of DeAndre Leslie, Tim Thomas and Kendall Baldwin to create virtually limitless depth within the program.
By keeping his core intact for the last four years and adding strategic pieces along the way, Bergeron’s club isn’t just deep, talented and experienced, they’re also cohesive, as they known one another and the style of play their coach preaches. Add that all up and it’s a recipe for a team that no one is going to want to see in the post-season, but for Springfield Commonwealth Academy that is exactly what the goal is. After spending the 2014-2015 season as an associate member of the NEPSAC, they have their sights set on completing the transition to Class AA and qualifying for the playoffs, where they just might be capable of making their first official season in the NEPSAC one to remember.