Prep Profile - Vermont Academy
When it comes to sheer talent, there may not be another team in Class AA of the NEPSAC who is better equipped than Vermont Academy.
First year head coach Alex Popp has a wealth of weapons at his disposal and a nice balance both in terms of experience and size.
There’s also a good amount of depth on the roster, across all five positions on the floor, and that’s a critical factor as a new head coach looks to implement his own system and values because it allows him to tie playing time to the players’ respective levels of “buy-in.”
The Wildcats were off to a good start the day the New England Recruiting Report was in the gym and that’s reportedly been the norm throughout the fall as Vermont has been a popular destination for college coaches.
Brown is virtually the only person back from last year’s team, and so while last season was nothing short of a breakout year for him from start to finish, this season is as new for him as it is everyone else on the roster.
While Brown’s rise has roots all the way back to last fall, Jones started making a significant buzz last spring and has continued to ride that wave of momentum, most recently picking up a scholarship offer from Cincinnati.
Brown and Jones are joined in the 2016 class by three other newcomers, Patrick Fisher, Tinga Adiang, and Nick Brooks. Fisher is a big lead guard who is a long way from home after coming to Vermont by way of San Diego. The trip wasn’t nearly as far for Adiang, who starred at nearby Mount Mansfield last season, and could be a “motor man” for this club because of his tremendous work-ethic and energy. Brooks played his high school basketball in New Jersey last season but ran with the City Rocks from Albany during the EYBL season.
The new faces on campus also include four post-graduates. Corey Johnson, a six-foot-six swingman from north of the border, has been the most popular of the bunch this fall, attracting a wide-range of recruitment and quickly establishing himself as one of the best pure shooters around.
Ronnie Suggs is also an important name to know. The six-foot-six southpaw was previously committed to Missouri before opting for a post-grad year and will be counted on to be among the team’s more versatile players this season.
Sharon native Jimmy Fritzson was perhaps the most pleasant surprise the day we were at Vermont Academy, matching Brooks as another playmaking guard with a ton of speed and quickness with the ball. Tyler Umans is another post-graduate guard and college prospect who will provide additional backcourt depth.
There are also a pair of new sophomores in Saxtons River, the most notable of which is Samuel Japhet-Mathias. The six-foot-ten big man is a true post player who has attracted quick high-major attention since arriving from England.
Mike Mundowa doesn’t have quite the same star power, yet still has a very bright future in his own rite as someone who can contribute minutes in a high level game from day one yet still has his best basketball still in front of him.
With virtually no two faces that were familiar with one another before this fall, chemistry and continuity will be the biggest challenges for Vermont Academy this year, but there’s no denying that if they can come together they’ll have a chance to be among the top contenders for the next two seasons in Class AA.