Prep Profile - Cushing Academy
Changes abound at Cushing Academy this season, as first year head coach James Cormier looks to lead the program to their second straight AA championship game appearance. Cormier spent the last two seasons as an assistant on the Dartmouth staff after previously learning under John Carroll as an NMH assistant.
As was the case last season, Cushing's success in Cormier's inaugural season will reflect the success of their dynamic backcourt led by two Mass Rivals products. Due to the departure of Makai Ashton-Langford to Brewster, it just won't be the two Rivals products that Cushing had grown accustomed to.
Virginia Tech commit Wabissa Bede now becomes the program's unquestioned leader, a role that comes naturally to the charismatic point guard. Bede became the heart and soul of the Rivals team this summer, leading the program to a perfect 21-0 tournament record in the month of July and the Adidas Guantlet Championship. He also took his personal game to a new level and enters the final season of his prep career unanimously considered one of the nation's top-100 players.
Bede's next order of business is to get the best out of newcomer David Duke and prepare him for the rigors of the NEPSAC schedule. Duke, an explosive 6'3" guard who comes to Cushing after winning a Rhode Island state championship with Classical last season, has already shown signs of being a formidable wingman to Bede and will undoubtedly garner his share of attention from college programs at every level of major college basketball.
Greg Kuakumensah, another Rivals alum, will expand his role alongside Bede and Duke while also expanding his game to become a legitimate inside-outside threat. Kuakumensah is a dynamic athlete in the open floor and has all the physical abilities to become a high level rebounder on both ends. He's joined in the front court by 6'7" big man Francis Uzorh, whose powerful build would allow him to pass for a New England Patriots defensive end, and Jordan Haywood, a deceiving athlete who's a menace on the boards, comfortable handling the ball in the open court and creative around the basket.
6'9" freshman Illiya Goloshchapov gives Cormier a post presence to build around in the future. His understanding of the pick and roll along with other foundational elements of the game is advanced for his age but there will be an adjustment period, as the young Ukrainian gets used to the speed of the game during his first year in the country.
Everyone inside the Cushing program will be adjusting to their new roles in some way, shape or form early in the season. But with Cormier's passionate approach, Bede's leadership ability and a group of players that come from a winning pedigree, Cushing could find itself in a familiar setting when March rolls around; contending for the NEPSAC AA title.