Prep Profile - Tilton
Cushing and Worcester are the favorites in Class AA this year.
But don’t tell Tilton that.
Because if recent prep school history tells us anything, it’s that underestimating Marcus O’Neil’s club is a mistake.
The Rams have won three championships and been to five finals in the last nine years and even a National Prep Championship back in 2009.
Year in and year out they are perennial contenders in Class AA and simultaneously develop the individual prospects on their team.
Jalen Leach is back for his second season and looking to make an impression after missing the majority of his grassroots season with a couple of fluke injuries. He’s a true combo-guard with good skill, composure, and size. He went for 26 points at last weekend’s National Prep Showcase and is poised to play a leadership role all season long.
Cem Kirciman is in a similar boat in that he’s back for his second season and looking to put his best foot forward after a disappointing brief AAU experience before returning to his native Turkey. There aren’t many more versatile frontcourt prospects in New England as he can handle, pass, and even lead the break like a guard at 6-foot-7.
Kevin Constant has had a terrific career to date, both with Central Catholic and the D.C. Blue Devils, but there is no denying he’s taken his game to new levels over the course of the last six months with the progression of his skill set. He flirted with a triple-double at the NPS, going for 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists in a game that wasn’t at all out of character for him.
Julian Wilson spent his fall primarily on the football field, but the 6-foot-8 big man is clearly going to be a big factor for the Rams on the hardwood as well. He went for 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench last week and provides a great compliment for Kirciman up front.
Hollman Smith and Kendall Hersey provide a pair of post-grad guards that are quality additions to the rotation as well with their skill and experience.
Jayden Brown’s talent level is undeniable. He’s got size, touch, skill, and inside-out type tools. He hasn’t put it all together to date just yet but if this is the year when it all starts to click then it could be huge for Tilton. He’s shown good signs so far with 17 points at the NPS including a trio of threes. Jahlil Scott and Alp Yilmaz are two more juniors that will fight for minutes.
Sophomore guard Torran Bosworth is a true underclassman who will have a chance to play big minutes early on. The smooth southpaw is a versatile scorer who shoots it with range, can operate off the dribble, and has advanced offensive versatility at a young age.
From top to bottom this is a group that has something to prove. The collective chip on their shoulder was evident last weekend too as they dispatched AAA Bridgton in convincing fashion. Leach, Kirciman, and Constant are potentially all under-recruited. Brown is an ultra-talented junior who is looking to prove his naysayers wrong. Bosworth is looking to make his mark as a sophomore and the supporting cast all looking to wrap up their recruitment. The key will be recognizing that their best chance of reaching their individual goals is to come together collectively to exceed any external expectations.
Marcus O’Neil’s teams are best remembered for the championships they’ve won and college stars, and even NBA players, they’ve produced. But for all the times they’ve been the favorites and delivered, O’Neil’s squads are maybe never more dangerous than when they are underestimated and able to unite around that rallying call.
History is clear, underestimating Tilton is a big mistake. Class AA would do well to remember that this year.