Prep Profile St. Thomas More
A quick scan down the St. Thomas More roster reveals plenty of familiar names.
Six players from the state of Connecticut, eight who played in New England last year, four from the state of New York, another from New Jersey, and then a pair of international products.
The advantages of such a centrally located roster are two-fold for the Chancellors.
First, most of these guys already know each other. Many have even played together before and so the task of getting them to mesh into a cohesive unit should be a little easier than a typical year.
Second, and perhaps most import to opposing coaches, local players means local support. Already perhaps the toughest gym in the NEPSAC to play, an away game at St. Thomas More just became all the more daunting for opposing teams.
Of the local Connecticut products, Norwalk’s Steve Enoch is the most notable name on the roster. Fresh off his commitment to UConn, the true senior will get his first consistent taste of high level competition after missing the majority of the summer with injury.
He’ll be surrounded by familiar faces like Ian Gardner, C.J. Byrd, Ajou Deng, and even New Jersey native Sean Hoehn, all of whom played together on the summer circuit. Gardner and Byrd, who previously starred from Kolbe Cathedral and Stamford respectively, should both have a chance to build on recent successes, while Hoehn is the purest point guard on the roster.
Ryan Peterson, who previously starred at Wethersfield High School, is another local product here for a post-graduate year while Arkel Ager-Lamar and E.J. Crawford are two more Connecticut natives in the class of 2016.
The youth of this roster is yet another theme. Ager-Lamar and Crawford are joined in the junior class by former Vermont Academy guard Christian Vital, proving head coach Jere Quinn with a three-man core to build a bridge to the future for his club.
Vital played extremely well the day we were in the gym while Ager-Lamar's long-term potential might be second to only Enoch. Crawford has the potential to give the Chancellors an offensive sparkplug this year with his smooth and versatile attack.
Hashem Abbas is a sophomore forward who recently arrived from Palestine. He’ll play with the high school team this year to gain some valuable experience but will certainly be part of the future as well.
The New York contingent is led by Sterling Taplan, who has been a staple of the City Rocks EYBL team for the last two seasons, and will be one of STM’s primary backcourt weapons this year. Stephen Millhaven is a strong mismatch forward who was out with injury the day we watched while Ryan Funk, a six-foot-five wing from upstate New York, may be the most pleasant surprise on the roster.
In total, this is a group that will draw its strength not just from their chemistry, but also their speed and depth. While Enoch and Deng might be the only true big men on the roster, there is a ton of perimeter firepower which will allow the Chancellors to continue to play at the same quicker tempo we’ve seen more of in recent years.
And if history is any indication, this is also a group that will improve at every step along the way during the course of the season and be playing their best basketball down the stretch of the season when it matters most.