Prep Profile – Vermont Academy

New England Recruiting Report | Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Prep Profile – Vermont Academy

It’s hard to overstate just how far the Vermont Academy’s basketball program has come in the last two years. 

They used to be the perennial doormat in class B of the NEPSAC, taking annual poundings from most of the league’s serious basketball programs and calling a run to the post-season a best case scenario. 

When New Hampshire native Jesse Bopp took the reins of the program last year and not only opted to play in the newly formed class AA but also scheduled the likes of Brewster Academy, Notre Dame Prep, and New Hampton, more than a few people raised their eyebrows. 

But VA surpassed expectations a year ago, taking on all challengers and finishing with an overall record of 17-14, after winning just six games a season earlier against a far less competitive schedule.   

Incredibly, Bopp’s second year could feature an even bigger leap as the Wildcats now have the pieces to play amongst the contenders in AA. 

“Basically we just have a lot more talent,” said returning guard Daquein McNeil.  “Last year we were a bunch of guys trying to make a name for ourselves.  This year we look good on paper and right now we’re trying to turn that into truth.” 

McNeil’s synopsis is accurate both collectively as well as for him as an individual prospect.  A year ago he was an unknown, but now, after not just starring in his sophomore season but also standing out this summer with his Baltimore Elite squad, he’s anything but a secret, even cracking some national top 100 lists. 

The playmaking guard is just one third of a “big three” in Vermont Academy’s junior class. 

The biggest, both literally and physically, is Dominic Woodson, a six-foot-ten two-hundred-and-sixty-five pound mountain of a man who makes the trip north from Round Rock, Texas. 

Woodson provides the type of interior presence necessary to contend with the likes of Tilton and St. Mark’s, not to mention attract bus loads of high-major coaches.  This upcoming week alone Rick Pittino, John Beilein, Buzz Williams, and Bob Huggins are all expected to make the trip to Saxtons River. 

The final leg of the trio is Jamel Artis, a second Baltimore product who spent last season at St. Benedict’s in New Jersey before transferring to Vermont Academy and repeating his junior year.  A big six-foot-six wing with a powerful frame and matching skill set, Artis may actually be the most naturally talented of the three. 

Donnele Munda is the team’s final junior and the six-foot-four Canadian native has already exceeded expectations, landing a scholarship offer from Loyola of Maryland this weekend and proving to be a more than capable shot-making scorer on the wing. 

The task of running the team will fall on post-graduate Trey Davis, a Dallas native who is already committed to UMass in the class of 2012.  An instinctive slashing scorer, Davis will be asked to blend his playmaking abilities with his distributing responsibilities this year. 

Providing depth in the backcourt is a foursome of other post-graduates.  Vermont native Troy Davine may be the most pleasant surprise of the bunch as a skilled and scrappy combo who could very well end up seeing big minutes this year.  Jack Mackey, James Northup, and Tom Snyder could also see minutes in the rotation. 

Ultimately, the evolution of Vermont Academy’s basketball program has been quick but steady in the last two years.  They began as an easy win for most teams on their schedule, upgraded to a tough out a year ago, and now look to take the next step and establish themselves among the legitimate contenders to Tilton’s crown in class AA.