Prep Profile Tilton School
For the first time in a long time, no one seems to be talking about the Tilton School heading into this year’s Class AA season.
That could prove to be a major miscalculation.
Having won NEPSAC championships in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2004, along with the 2009 National Prep Championship, head coach Marcus O’Neil has built a program with as much recent history as anyone in New England while producing stars like Alex Oriakhi, Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Gerard Coleman, Nerlens Noel, Georges Niang, Dominuque Bull, Wayne Selden, and others.
We are also talking about a team that has advanced to the semifinals in the NEPSAC tournament in each of the last six seasons.
While this year’s team may not have the same number of potential high-major prospects, what they do have is a budding star in Terance Mann, one of the most experienced point guards in New England in Johnny Joseph, and as deep of a team as they’ve had in recent memory with potentially more than 10 future college players.
Mann isn’t your typical young star. There’s nothing boastful or flashy about him, and in that way he’s refreshing not just to those who watch him and play with him, but also to the long lines of college coaches hoping to recruit him. Instead, he’s humble, but still confident, with an ability to impact the game in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor.
Joseph will run the show from the point, where he’ll not only have to live up to his reputation for being able to take care of the ball, but also assert himself as more of an offensive weapon by utilizing his pick and roll game.
Mann and Joseph are just the beginning of a returning core that already possesses a great deal of experience. Sharp-shooting swingman Lee Messier is back for his senior season and ready to re-assert himself as one of the best three-point shooters in class AA. The junior frontcourt tandem of Cameron Durley and John Witkowski should both be poised to take on bigger roles this season as well, while guys like Packy Witkowski and Joe Fama will also rely on their experience to help make an impact.
There’s also a solid contingent of fresh talent in town. First and foremost is six-foot-four swingman Franklin Porter. The son of former NBA player and coach Terry Porter, Franklin should quickly emerge as one of the team’s most talented players while also joining Mann, Joseph, Witkowski, and Durley in the squad’s loaded junior class.
Nemanja Krtolica is a six-foot-eight Bosnian native who will be looked upon to make an immediate contribution up front, while post-graduate forward Marcus Willingham and six-foot-seven senior forward Chris Stowell provide even more interior depth.
Gonzalo Santana is a post-graduate point guard who comes to Tilton by way of Spain and Oak Hill Academy, where he spent his senior season. The five-foot-ten floor general has played to rave reviews thus far this fall and will likely push Joseph for minutes while also infusing the Rams with his energy on both ends of the floor.
Steven Bush is another newcomer who will make his presence felt behind the three-point line where he, Tim Ferraro, and Sargu Katell will all help Tilton space the floor and stretch opposing defenses out.
Put it all together and this is a group that will assuredly be different than Tilton teams we’ve seen in previous seasons, but still plenty dangerous. Opposing defenses will no longer be able to focus their efforts on one of two key players, but will instead have to account for incredible depth and a wealth of scoring threats.
Most importantly, this is a team that while still on the young side, already has the benefit of experience while also playing to defend arguably the proudest tradition of excellence within Class AA of the NEPSAC.