Prep Profile - St. Thomas More
Under the leadership of head coach Jere Quinn, St. Thomas More is always a program to be reckoned with and in recent years has made a habit of over-achieving.
While the Chancellors always end up in contention, this year there seems to be a little extra firepower on the roster. In fact, in many ways the team is reminiscent of the 2011 squad that featured current Detroit Pistons star Andre Drummond and Louisville swingman Damion Lee.
This year’s big man in the middle is Villanova pledge Omari Spellman, a top 20 national recruit who made his debut in New England a year ago at the MacDuffie School before transferring to STM for his final year of eligibility.
While Spellman might not have the same sheer talent as Drummond, and is really a different type of big man altogether, he does give the Chancellors arguably the premier big man in the league.
A dancing bear with a wide-body and extremely agile feet, Spellman is a very deceptive athlete, has incredible hands and a skill set that extends all the way out to the three-point line. He’s still working on getting his legs back after missing most of the summer with injury, but he’s a menace around the rim and an almost impossible match-up.
In 2011, Drummond was often the focus of opposing team’s, but it was Lee, who first went on to star at Drexel before transferring to Louisville for his 5th year of eligibility, that was arguably the team’s most impactful offensive player, especially down the stretch of the season.
This year that role may fall to Charles Brown, a 6-foot-6 wing from Philadelphia who is already committed to St. Joseph’s, which ironically is only a few miles away from the Drexel campus where Lee previously starred.
Brown is a Philadelphia product who has improved dramatically in the last year and was one of the best three-point shooters in the entire Under Armour Association last spring and summer. In addition to being a sharp-shooter, Brown is long and wiry, able to make shots on the move and a factor in transition.
Now, will Spellman and Brown measure up to Drummond and Lee? Those are certainly big shoes to fill to say the least, but the reality is that they won’t have to because this STM team is full of weapons.
Christian Vital, who recently pledged to UNLV, will be as important as anyone. One of four players who are back for their second season in Oakdale, Vital still carries that trademark chip on his shoulder and will undoubtedly be one of the leaders of this year’s team on both ends of the floor. His chemistry with Spellman, who he has teamed with on the AAU circuit throughout his high school years, will only help.
Two other notable returners include Arkel Ager-Lamar and E.J. Crawford. Ager-Lamar came back to school in the best shape of his life and seemingly ready to have a big final season while Crawford was arguably the best player in the gym when we visited the team’s open gym last month. He’s just a pure scorer and can get his own shot at all three levels at that. He recently committed to Iona, where he should be a perfect fit with their high octane offense.
Post-graduate forward Kai Mitchell is also committed to Iona and has a chance to be a very important addition for this team. A 6-foot-6 power forward type, Mitchell is strong with a low center of gravity but also incredibly long with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. Add that to the fact that he is a tremendous passer and facilitator from the four-spot and you have a very unique player.
Zack Radz, who committed to Sacred Heart last month, gives St. Thomas More a sixth player already bound for the division I level. A big guard and shot-maker, Radz should be an important piece in the backcourt along with Julian Batts, a smooth southpaw point guard from the Pittsburgh area who might follow in the footsteps of guys like Sean Hoehn to become the latest STM floor general to play his way up a level or two during his post-graduate year. Canaan Bartley is another guard, who arrives by way of Florida with a division I offer already in hand, who will be a key part of the backcourt rotation.
Ryogo Sumino is the team’s latest Japanese important and while he isn’t likely to like up to the pedigree of current George Washington swingman Yuta Watanabe, he is a good player in his own right and looks bound to crack the rotation as well.
Will this blend of star power and depth result in a championship like 2011? Only time will tell but you can bet the Chancellors will find themselves right in the thick of the hunt for both the NEPSAC and National Championships again this year.