Prep Profile - South Kent
Whether it’s a quick glance down their roster or just a few minutes at their open gym, it doesn’t take very long to realize that this is the most talented South Kent team head coach Kelvin Jefferson has had in years.
Quite possibly, since his first year with the Cardinals when they made a run to the NEPSAC finals and came within just a couple of possessions of calling themselves champions.
There are players already committed to Syracuse, Georgetown and Seton Hall, and yet that list might not include arguably their two most impactful players.
Junior point guard Tremont Waters returns for his third year under Jefferson, and while he may still be one of the youngest guys on the roster, he’s certainly the most experienced, both in terms of his understanding of the team’s system as well as within the NEPSAC himself. That, in addition to his virtually unmatched ability with the ball in his hands, should make him the leader from day one this season.
Of all the committed players on the roster, the most impactful might just be East Carolina bound Elijah Hughes. A true senior who didn’t play on a shoe circuit this summer, Hughes is a late-bloomer who has improved exponentially in the last year and was under the radar when he pledged to East Carolina last June. At 6-foot-5 he’s a multi-dimensional perimeter player who be athletic in the open floor, make shots and even be a playmaker with the ball in his hands.
While Waters and Hughes could both be described as playmakers first and shooters second, Myles Powell might be just the opposite – a big time shot-maker who can also make plays because of how worried opposing defenses can be about him around the arc. In fact, Powell may be the best shooter in the entire country, but he’s also very adept at using his wide frame to lean in on his defender and get to the rim, not to mention a talented finisher around the rim.
Powell is joined by a second ESPN 100 prospect on the roster, Syracuse pledge Matthew Moyer. A 6-foot-8 forward who comes to Connecticut by way of Ohio, Moyer could be one of the NEPSAC’s more versatile guys this year. While he has the size to be productive inside, he’s probably best operating off the dribble, where he’s very shifty and able to get his body on defenders to steer them wherever he wants. Combine that all with an improved jumper and he’s a very difficult match-up.
Tyler Foster, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Baltimore, joins Waters in the junior class to help build a bridge towards the future while being the 4th player on the roster to have already made a commitment after his early pledge to Georgetown. Foster has good size on the wing and an athletic build, but might make his most immediate contribution with his ability to space the floor and make open shots.
While the talent level of this core group is immediately noticeable, the other thing you realize pretty quickly is that this will be a much more perimeter oriented Cardinals’ team than we’ve seen in years past. Few NEPSAC coaches have been as committed to having a low post presence as Jefferson, and yet this year his most notable offensive weapon all play facing the basket.
The job of controlling the paint will belong to 6-foot-10 Andrew Gordon, a post-graduate from Florida. Gordon could be yet another player to end up at the high-major level when it’s all said and done as he has a terrific build and nice compliment of physical tools to compete at the highest level.
He’ll be supported inside by both Nick Washington and Aziz Sultan Essa, both of whom return from last year’s roster. Washington is a skilled four-man, who arrived at mid-year last season, and can open up the lane by stretching opposing defenses to the arc.
Essa is one of the best stories anywhere in the NEPSAC this fall. He was over 350 pounds when he arrived last year from his home in Kuwait, but has now shed close to 100 pounds and is going to get on the floor as a result as he’s always possessed good size at 6-foot-9, footwork and a good feel for the game.
Ty Dalton is a multi-dimensional player who could see significant minutes off the bench because of his toughness, ability to space the floor, make open shots and play multiple positions. Loren Brill and Chance ONeil will also add to the team’s depth in the backcourt.
All in all, this South Kent team has a few things going for them. First and most obviously, is their talent. Second, is the amount of players on the roster who can both make plays with the ball in their hands but also shoot the ball from the perimeter. Third, and perhaps more important than most realize, is a clear sense of role recognition on the roster – it’s clear who the first six or seven players are and thus clear who the supporting cast is.
What will that translate to this season? That remains to be seen, but what we know for sure is that this is one of the best South Kent teams we’ve seen in recent years and a group that has the pieces to be true contenders down the stretch of February and March.