Prep Profile - MacDuffie School

New England Recruiting Report | Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Prep Profile - MacDuffie School

MacDuffie made a splash in the AA ranks a year ago as first year head coach Jacques Rivera arrived along with one of the most talented young rosters in the league.

Like any team, MacDuffie had their share of ups and downs, but ended on a high note, advancing to the semi-finals of the NEPSAC tournament.

This year, Rivera’s roster might not have as many big names, but there’s both more depth at the coach’s disposal and competition for playing time, and less egos to deal with.

The result is a group that looks deep, scrappy and ready to take on all comers – a mentality that fits their coach well.

What will remain the same is the emphasis on the interior, as senior center Jordy Tshimanga returns for his third year in Granby and will be joined by 7-footer Malik Elicher, a post-graduate from Germany.

Together, Tshimanga and Elicher should form one of the most potent interior tandems in Class AA and give MacDuffie the type of size up front to anchor them on both ends of the floor.

Offensively, Tshimanga’s immovable size in conjunction with his equally soft hands and touch make him an extremely difficult match-up for most teams. Elicher is even taller than his 6-foot-10 counterpart but has more versatility as he can post and face the basket equally well and is also a very good passer.

A pair of seniors, Opong Bramble and Jair Johnson, provide the team with two forwards with the athleticism and mobility to complement the sheer size of Tshimanga and Elicher. Bramble is as powerful as he athletic, and yet still equally mobile. He attacks the rim running down hill and is very good rolling to the rim off a ball-screen. He’s expected to make a significant contribution this season while Johnson provides another physical and athletic forward.

Post-Graduate Connor Cronin may not be as physically gifted as the aforementioned group, but he has an incredible nose for the ball and knack for being in the right place at the right time that is going to make him hard to keep off the floor.

Collectively, that’s five frontcourt prospects who provide Rivera with a great blend of sheer size, athleticism and depth, not to mention the potential to go very big with three of the five on the court at any one time.

Kashaun Hicks will be a major key on the wing, especially on the offensive end of the floor. A sharp-shooter with long arms, Hicks is out to prove a point this season after an inconsistent AAU campaign coupled by an injury this fall that caused his recruitment to fall off. Nevertheless, he’s a shot-maker and scorer of the basketball this year who should be MacDuffie’s top perimeter threat.

The backcourt rotation lacks big names, except that of Brad Calipari, who is best known for being the son of Kentucky head coach John Calipari. Local competition better learn more about him than that though as Calipari returned to MacDuffie this fall in noticeably better shape and shooting the ball extremely well, off both the catch and the dribble.

Jaylen Franklin is another returning member of last year’s team and one whose toughness, defensive productivity and willingness to run the show from the point guard position provides immediate leadership.

Local Springfield product Carlos Gonzalez is another culture builder in the backcourt. As vocal as he is scrappy, Gonzalez seems to have already taken on a leadership role and he too is a major pest on the defensive end of the floor, thus giving Rivera a pair of true ball-hawks on that ends of the floor.

Aidan Hirch and A.J. Pettway are two other incoming guards, both from the local MIAA ranks, that round out the backcourt rotation. Pettway is a repeat junior who will spend his next two years in Granby and might have the highest long-term upside of any of the guards with his length and burst off the bounce while Hirch will provide a floor spacer and capable three-point shooter from the wings and corners.

While Rivera likes his team, especially his depth, the group’s success could be directly tied to their health this season. Hicks, Tshimanga and Johnson all missed significant time this fall and to say MacDuffie needs that trio to be healthy would be an understatement. There won’t be any easing into the season either as they opens with Vermont Academy on Wednesday followed by a trip to the Zero Gravity Prep Classic this weekend and subsequent match-ups against AA rivals Cushing, Cheshire and Tilton all within the next week.