Prep Profile - MacDuffie School
It is very possible that when we look back on the 2017-2018 season in Class AA of the NEPSAC five or ten years from now, we’ll say that the MacDuffie School had the most talented team.
But there is a big difference between 15, 16, and 17 year old talent and18 and 19 year old talent.
So yes, head coach Jacques Rivera has constructed a roster that is loaded with as many as five potential future high-major prospects, but the vast majority of that group is young and so this is a group that will likely have some growing pains along the way this year as they adjust to life in the NEPSAC.
While the most recruitable prospects on MacDuffie’s roster may be their underclassmen, the biggest mistake an opposing program could make would be underestimating their 2018 class, and that begins with Rhode Island bound forward Dana Tate. Tate’s progression has been both rapid and consistent over the course of his high school career as he’s added skill, leaned out his powerful body, and turned himself into a premier finisher.
Fellow seniors Alex Christie and John Bella-Hunter provide two more experienced big bodies to the frontcourt rotation. Christie, who is already committed to Stony Brook, is another player who has made significant strides since arriving from Canada last fall while Bella-Hunter is a long and active hybrid type big who makes winning plays on both ends of the floor. The backcourt of Neville Lee and Khaylen Madhi adds both experience and depth to Coach Rivera’s rotation.
Junior Ismael Massoud is back for his second season at MacDuffie and should now be ready to take the next step in his development as he asserts himself as a versatile scorer and tough shot-maker.
The new additions to the team have come not in the form of post-grads, but in multi-year players. In the 2019 class James Bouknight has joined local products Matt Niemczura and Tanahj Pettway. Bouknight is another big guard who is loaded with talent and almost inevitably headed towards a breakout season, both in the NEPSAC as well as on the grassroots circuit. Pettway is a well-known local product who comes over from Putnam Science Academy to provide a boost of speed and yet another playmaker in the backcourt. Niemczura is a big, lanky wing who hasn’t filled out yet and will have to adjust to the physicality of this new level but has clear long-term ability.
Richard Springs is a New York native and true junior who will be one of New England’s top ranked prospects in the class of 2020. He has size, toughness, a good build, and budding inside-out tools that will make him a national name sooner rather than later.
Franck Kepang, a repeat 6-foot-9 freshman, is an equally gifted young prospect with incredible length and one of the best motors you’ll find in a young prospect. He still needs to learn the game but he, like Springs, will be capable of making an impact this year.
The cross between talent and youth is the story here. Yes, they may have more high-major prospects than anyone in AA but they are almost all young prospects who are just learning and so may not yet be able to assert their will on a high level game just yet. Tate will need to take on a leadership role as a senior while Banton and Massoud will also have to be ready to assert themselves in their second years in the NEPSAC.
The other big factor for this team is their size and length, along all portions of the line-up. They have five bodies 6-foot-7 or bigger to rotate along their frontline and even better positional size in the backcourt with Banton, Bouknight, and Massoud all being 6-foot-6. That’s a recipe for a team that could be extremely disruptive defensively and potentially able to create offense from their defense.
In terms of raw talent they may be the best that AA has to offer this year but this is a group that is looking to get back in the post-season before they start talking about a championship. They’ll certainly be contenders this year but have the potential to be dominant in subsequent seasons if they continue to evolve and grow as a collective unit.