Prep Profile - Kimball Union Academy
Straight up 91 north over the Vermont border and tucked away in the small town of Meriden, New Hampshire there lies a potential sleeper in Class AA of the NEPSAC.
Kimball Union Academy may not have some of the big names of their AA brethren, and may be a little shorter on their bench then they’ve been in years past, but head coach Mike Olson has a first 8 than can compete with anyone and is already off to a 3-0 start on the season with wins over Bradford Christian, Holderness, and Deerfield.
With a pair of games coming up on the bigger stage of the Scholar Roundball Classic this weekend, KUA is looking to make a statement and announce their arrival as a team bound for the post-season this year.
It all begins with Eze Dike. A native of Montreal and early Yale pledge, Dike is in his second season with KUA. His frame is shredded beyond that of maybe any other guard in the region and his athleticism almost equally impressive. He’s a highlight waiting to happen in the open floor but, more importantly, he’s a leader on a daily basis with his competitiveness and work ethic.
Dike’s backcourt mate is a three year veteran of KUA and a rare true point guard. Jordan Huntley has a mature floor game, is a willing distributor, and understands how to run a team. He’s even a diligent rebounder in the backcourt and just reliable across the board.
Fellow senior Kamal Aubakirov is the most improved player on the team. A native of Kazakhstan, Aubakirov has been a capable role player in the past but has immense value if you watch closely with his strong body, heady floor game, and spot-up shooting.
Junior forward Will Engelhardt brings some experience to the frontcourt as a highly skilled four-man type who is flying a little under the radar but has the size, skill, and basketball I.Q. that will inevitably allow him to make a bigger name for himself.
Braintree (MA) grad Nick Timberlake provides the team with an immediate impact post-grad. Coming off a nice grassroots campaign this spring and summer, Timberlake was already known to college coaches but he’s taken both his game and his body to new levels in the three plus months since he’s arrived in Meriden and is a player whose stock could certainly rise following this coming weekend.
Junior forward Jesse Matthews is also on board and ready to provide another skilled frontcourt option who can stretch the floor. Matthews had a reputation as one of the better underclassmen in Maine a couple of years ago but was largely unproven beyond the borders of his home state. After battling injuries for the last year, he’s finally healthy and now ready to make his mark.
Two of KUA’s most important newcomers are both in the class of 2020 as Enoch Cheeks and Tyrone Victor will be relied upon to play immediate minutes this season while also setting the foundation for future Wildcat teams.
Cheeks is a Mount Pleasant (RI) transfer who is loaded with athleticism, power, and raw competitive juices. He went for 24 points in just his second game in the prep ranks and has already made it clear that he is one of the top 2020 prospects in New England.
Victor is more of a long-term stock but still one with clear potential. He has great size, clear potential, and has made nice strides with conditioning after running cross country this fall. He’ll give KUA a true center in the middle of the line-up right away but his best basketball is still a couple of years ahead of him.
This is an under-the-radar team filled with under-the-radar talent. Their first 8 is capable of playing with absolutely anyone and from top to bottom that is a group that has more talent and productivity than their reputation might suggest.
Kimball Union Academy should be firmly in the AA post-season hunt this year but before that, they’ll be one of the teams to watch at this weekend’s Scholar Roundball Classic.