Prep Profile - St. Andrew’s
The Saints of St. Andrew’s School tip off their 2017-2018 season this upcoming Wednesday against Milton Academy, and while they might be trying to downplay it, this could be a year in which head coach Michael Hart’s bunch is again ready to compete.
Now in his 24th season at the helm of the St. Andrew's program, Hart has had a storied career, not just in terms of wins and losses but also because of the work he has done to be an advocate for NEPSAC coaches. He coordinates the NEPSAC finals ever year and has more New England titles to his name than all but one other coach in AA. In short, he knows what it takes to win it all and believes his group still has a ways to go.
There are still reasons to be optimistic though. AA appears wide open this year and Hart has a lot of weapons at his disposal to mold and connect over the next three months.
St. Andrew’s is led by one of the very best players in New England – Villanova signee Cole Swider. Known primarily for his prowess from behind the three-point line, Swider is a more versatile scorer and better athlete than he sometimes gets credit for. He played the entire summer with a broken bone in his shooting hand but has missed the fall following surgery. He’s expected to be back for the beginning of the season though and should be one of the top contenders for Player of the Year honors in Class AA.
Swider isn’t the only high-major product on the Saints’ team this year as 2019 guard Brycen Goodine made an early pledge to Syracuse in August. A smooth and athletic guard who has improved his skill set both consistently and quickly in recent years, Goodine is still just scratching the surface of his potential. Together, he and Swider have the sheer talent to be as good of a one-two punch as there is in Class AA.
One of the most important players on this year’s team will be junior Robert Baum, who will have every opportunity to earn the starting point guard job. He’s quick with playmaking tools and if he can be consistent for the Saints this year, it will go a long way towards making them contenders. Also back on the perimeter is sharp-shooter Sean Christy, a local product with a high basketball I.Q. to match his smooth jumper.
Marko Savic is an X-factor for this team as he has the sheer talent to be an asset if he’ll buy into a complimentary role while Cameron Wilkins and Nate Holt have both played their way up from the varsity 2 team and could fight for rotation minutes this season.
St. Andrew’s welcomes four post-graduates to supplement their line-up this season, especially along the frontline where they have a trio of 6-foot-9 players to work into the rotation. Jack Quinlevan, a broadly built big man from Wisconsin, is expected to make an immediate contribution while Connecticut native Nevin Zink has been one of the most pleasant surprises so far this fall. Dillon Grant, who was previously under-the-radar playing out on the edge of Cape Cod, is just getting his first taste of high level competition but has clear talent and a bright future.
The one perimeter addition is Brandon Kolek, a native of nearby Cumerland, Rhode Island who will give the Saints another knockdown shooter from behind the three-point line and increasing versatile perimeter weapon.
St. Andrew’s has also added a pair of talented freshmen in Matt Constant and Dylan Ahearn, both of whom have already proven themselves to be among the more intriguing 2021 prospects in New England. Constant is a hard-nosed point guard who is skilled, competitive, and extremely driven. Ahearn, the younger brother of former Marianapolis Prep and current Binghamton forward Bobby Ahearn, is another skilled shot-maker from the outside but also boasts a basketball I.Q. beyond his years.
The first and most obvious is that they have a potential dynamic duo that could be one of Class AA’s best in Swider and Goodine. They should be in perfect sync too as this is clearly Swider’s team in his senior year while the junior guard is ready, willing, and able to play the Robin to Swider’s Batman.
The Saints also have great size. More than that they have depth and versatility within their size in that they’ll have enough big bodies to keep rotating them in and out and can even play multiple big men together given their complimenting skill sets. For example, a frontline of Quinlevan, Grant, and Swider doesn’t have anyone smaller than 6-foot-8 and all three of them can rain threes on you.
The biggest question is point guard play. Baum will get thrown into the fire with the ball in his hands to start the season while Constant and Wilkins are the potential back-ups. All are more than capable, but they’re also unproven at this level.
They may not want to admit it, but the Saints are contenders in AA this year. They have one of the best players in the league, a rising junior star to compliment him, a ton of size, and enough three-point shooting to keep opposing defenses honest, all led by a coach who has championed the NEPSAC for decades and is no doubt ready to hang another banner.