Prep Profile - Notre Dame
Notre Dame Prep may not be a member of the NEPSAC but they are as much a part of the fabric of New England prep school basketball as any program in the region and have a tradition of excellence like few others.
Nevertheless, if you know head coach Ryan Hurd, you know he’s never one to over-sell his program and so when he says, “I like this team,” you can believe he thinks they have a chance to do some damage in the coming season.
The recipe at Notre Dame Prep is a little different than other schools, many of which regularly take upwards of 15 players on the team. Instead, Notre Dame boasts a smaller roster, but one where everybody can count on having to contribute and play meaningful minutes.
This year, it all starts with recent UMass pledge Chris Baldwin, who committed to the Minutemen following a huge summer that saw him land offers from a variety of prestigious conferences. That was the culmination of one of the best turn-around stories we’ve seen in New England in recent years.
Baldwin was a celebrated young prospect from the moment he reached the high school ranks but early on his talent and potential was exceeded only by lack of energy and production, both on the court and in the classroom.
That story started a new chapter when Baldwin arrived at Notre Dame though as he began investing more time on his game, playing with more effort, getting his body right and taking his academics seriously.
Now, he’s essentially a brand new person and player. Much more mature and undeniably more productive. He still combines the strong body, athleticism and touch that made him so intriguing as a youngster, but he’s also extended his skill set away from the basket, become a volume rebounder and quality interior defender.
As the only returning member of last year’s team, he’s also a leader now as well, a designation he earned through his hard work and new mentality.
While Baldwin will anchor the team in the paint, the arrival of Travis Atson and Kejuan Johnson provides Hurd with two other players who aren’t just talented but also tough as well as experienced at the prep level after transferring from South Kent and Hargrave Military Academy respectively.
Atson is coming off a recent commitment to Tulsa, where former Notre Dame Prep and Missouri star Kimmie English serves as a member of the coaching staff, and he’ll have a chance to do what he does best this season – score the ball in high volume.
Johnson is an absolute man child on the wing. He’s incredibly powerful, super tough and ultra-competitive. While that competitive nature and chip on his shoulder has sometimes been an obstacle in the past, Hurd embraces it and seems to expect Johnson, who was committed to Rutgers at one time in the 2015 class, to have a huge season for the Crusaders.
Peter Kiss is another player expected to be big contributions this season. Coming off a recent pledge to Quinnipiac, Kiss is best known for his athleticism and ability to shoot the ball with range from the three-point line. This fall though he’s made notable strides with both his ball-handling, as he converts from an undersized wing to more of a true guard, and ability to defend the ball.
The fourth and final player already committed to a division I school is Max Curran, a 6-foot-8 New Hampshire native who is long and lean right now but projects as the prototypical face-up four-man at the next level with his ability to make threes in bunches.
Another local product, Norwalk (CT) graduate Roy Kane, has continued to improve at a steady rate and will inevitably play an important role for this club and have plenty of division I suitors before it’s all said and done.
Tyson Baptiste, a former Arkansas Little Rock pledge in the 2015 class, will play a similarly important role in the backcourt as a big and versatile guard, and will be another player that division I coaches will want to see in the near future.
Malyiek McCray, the son of former Louisville star and NBA player Scooter McCray, will be a utility player off the bench with his versatility and balanced floor game in the backcourt while Cheyenne Nettelton and Oumaru Kante provide a pair of quick point guards who can both handle the ball, create tempo and cause havoc defensively.
All in all, there may not be as many names on the roster as other schools, but when it comes to their sheer rotation, this is still a very deep and talented team that has a chance to do some real damage in the coming season.