Prep Profile - St. Thomas More School
It is that time of year again, when we start to preview the top prep programs in New England.
This year, we are going to begin with the local teams who will take part in the National Prep Showcase, held November 19th – 21st at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
There isn’t a basketball program in New England, at any level, that is more synonymous with their coach than St. Thomas More School is with Jere Quinn. A Godfather of prep school basketball, he has been at the helm of the Chancellors program for over 40 years, surmounting over 1,000 wins and producing well over 100 division I basketball players. Over the years, those teams have come in all different shapes and sizes, but the collective competitiveness is a constant theme from one year to the next.
3 Things You Need to Know About This Year’s Team
1. Player Development
Taku Youngblood and Albany commit Jonathan Beagle are the two players back from last year’s program and both have made a substantial jump. Youngblood is an explosive athlete with dynamic playmaking ability in the open floor and an improved perimeter skill-set. Beagle played on the program’s high school team a year ago and then had an almost unprecedented rise on the grassroots circuit with the City Rocks, going from virtual unknown to A10 and ACC scholarship offers before giving his local Great Danes program a huge steal. Together, Youngblood and Beagle are a testament to the program’s ability to develop their own talent and both ready to play key roles this year.
2. Multiple Shooters
The Chancellors are very possibly the best shooting team we’ve seen all fall. Elias Rodl, Achile Spadone, and Jack Hall are all elite three-point shooters. Rodl has deep range and an ultra-soft ball. Hall, a graduate of Avon High School, is known for his ability to make shots in bunches, and Spadone might be the best pure shooter of them all. While those three are each among the best shooters in the NEPSAC, virtually everyone on the team knocks down open shots. In fact, there will be many times this year when all five players on the floor are three-point shooters.
3. Tough and Scrappy
Joseph Berry, who was previously committed to Army in the class of 2021, is a long and rugged guard who is physical, competitive, willing and able to play through contact. Matt Houde and Luke Latina are two local post-graduates, from East Catholic and Wethersfield respectively, who are cut from a similar cloth and will be key culture-carriers because of it. All three are the epitome of toughness and they are already setting a tone for the rest of the group.
3 Questions Heading into the Season
1. How Quickly Can They Gel?
One thing there isn’t a lot of on this roster is continuity. In fact, Youngblood is the only player back from last year’s prep team, which means the group started from scratch upon their arrival this fall. The team has also been assembled from all corners of the globe. Youngblood is from Japan, Rodl from Germany, Spadone from Switzerland, and 6’11 big man Noah Williamson from Latvia. Even domestically, STM has players from all over the country. Berry is from Kansas. Kyle Carlesimo, the son of longtime NBA coach PJ Carlesimo, is from Seattle. Long Island commit CJ Delancey is an athletic big man from Arkansas. The speed with which all of these players can come together, form a cohesive team, and adapt to the speed and physicality of prep school basketball will all be crucial to their success this season.
2. Can They Stay Healthy?
Depth is always a key component of Quinn’s teams. He plays 10+ players virtually every time the team gets on the floor, guaranteeing everyone gets to earn their dues. This year is no different as players like Zack Ianello and Zisi Blades push the potential rotation to as many as 13 on any given night. Nevertheless, recent history has shown us that even the deepest teams can be bit by the injury bug. In fact, this is a program that has been downright unlucky in the seasons prior to the pandemic.
3. What Do They Hang Their Hat On?
At first glance, the roster has the versatility to check numerous boxes. In addition to the shot-making, toughness, and depth, there’s also plenty of size, ball-handlers, and athletes. In fact, this is as balanced a roster as we’ve seen in years. That is all certainly a good thing, but it does remain to be seen exactly what ends up becoming the identity of the team. Who establishes themselves as the leaders and primary playmakers? How do roles evolve? It is all natural stuff but with a team with no-built in continuity, and so many unique pieces, it is worth watching.