Prep Profile Notre Dame Prep
When Ryan Hurd took over as the head coach at Notre Dame Prep, the basketball program was coming off an unprecedented period of success. They finished the 2005-06 season as the top ranked prep school program in the country and had just seen Michael Beasley lead the team to the first ever National Prep Championship in 2006-07.
When Hurd took over the program he provided an incredibly smooth transition from longtime head coach Bill Barton while maintaining Notre Dame’s annual spot among the national powerhouses on the prep circuit.
The 2010-11 season begins with hopes of reclaiming a national championship, as this is undoubtedly Hurd’s most talented group yet.
While the roster features an abundance of perimeter players who will allow Notre Dame to utilize their trademark full court pressure system, the key for the Crusaders may lie up front where a pair of Canadian imports could form a dominant duo.
Khem Birch looked like an absolute monster when we visited the Fitchburg gym last week. Noticeably stronger and far more skilled than he was a year ago, Birch put on a show, not only by throwing down monstrous dunks and blocking shots against the backboard, but making 15 foot jumpers and facing up with jab steps.
While Birch seems poised to take the next step into stardom, Grandy Glaze looks like the team’s emotional leader. A man among boys inside the paint, Glaze is a linebacker disguised as a power forward who plays with an incredible will to win. He loves to take the ball off the defensive glass and go coast to coast like a dump-truck running down hill and makes countless energy plays for his team.
The roster lacks any other true big man at the moment although 6’9” Luka Rodovic and 6’8” Angel Nunez could both see time up front where their combination of size and skill could make them both major mismatch problems.
The backcourt is highlighted by a sharp-shooter from New Jersey and two potential stars with familiar last names.
Myles Davis established himself as one of the most feared shooters in the country during his first three seasons at St. Peter’s Prep and almost single handedly led his former squad to an upset victory over Oak Hill Academy at last year’s Prime Time Shootout when he drilled eight three-pointers in the game. This year he projects as Prep’s top perimeter scorer and of course one of the most lethal snipers around.
Sam Cassell Jr. and Todd Mayo are undeniable talents with NBA lineage as Cassell is the son of the NBA great Sam Sr. and Todd’s big brother O.J. is one of the top young talents in the league today. Expect both to have big impacts at Prep this year as Cassell has a game that is eerily similar to his dad’s while Mayo has been on a tear since first arriving.
Backcourt depth is another big key for this team. Hurd is adamant about his high expectations of Massachusetts native Tyler Strange, who looked sharp in last week’s open gym, as did Zarko Valjarevic, a 6’4” sharp-shooter from Serbia, and Matt Porter, a powerful swingman with an equally impressive report card who shined at this summer’s Hoop Mountain Academic All-American Camp. Ivan Delacruz provides a steady point guard off the bench while Charles Swain is a guy who can come in and make shots in bunches.
Rhode Island native Shaquille Jones was not in action last week but is expected to return in time for the season. The talented six-foot-five swingman will certainly benefit from competing against such talented competition on a daily basis and could blossom into a player of importance for this squad.
Put it all together and this team has all the pieces to compete with the very best in the country. They have undeniable star power, a frontcourt tandem that will hold their own against anyone, and a slew of long and athletic guards who will be able to create and sustain tempo for 40 straight minutes of action.