Prep Profile Wilbraham & Monson
Mike Mannix is not your average first year head coach.
While he may be sliding over a chair following the departure of former head coach Chris Sparks, Mannix has been intimately involved with every aspect of the program since 2009 when he arrived at WMA after previously serving on the coaching staff at Drexel.
Mannix also returns a strong nucleus from last year’s WMA squad that he’ll look to build around this season.
First and foremost is Curtis Cobb, the senior swingman who appears to be playing the best basketball of his career. Cobb had been bothered by a nagging ankle injury since December, but is now 100% healthy and looked like a brand new player when NERR visited the Wilbraham gym late last month. He had increased explosiveness throughout his floor game and was as smooth as ever.
Joe Schneider and Earl Stephen provide two more returning seniors, giving this club a nice foundation of experience. Schneider, the six-foot-nine southpaw big man, now appears poised to take on a bigger role in his second season in the NEPSAC and assert himself as Wilbraham’s primary interior weapon on both ends of the floor.
Stephens may not be the most well known prospect on the roster, but there won’t be too many more dependable players. Hard-working and vocal like all senior point guards should be, he provided obvious leadership the day we were in the gym and figures to do the same during the course of the season.
Newton, a six-foot-six skilled forward from California with a powerful body, became the first WMA product to commit to a division I school over the weekend when he pledged to Stetson just a little more than a month after arriving in the New England prep ranks.
Vezele, a six-foot-four post-graduate from Hope High School in Rhode Island, is still relatively new to high levels of competition but he’s well on his way to proving himself a scholarship player with terrific length complimented by good athleticism and a sound shooting stroke.
The most notable newcomer is repeat junior forward Wenyen Gabriel, who previously starred at Trinity High School in New Hampshire, and is coming off a breakout spring and summer on the grassroots circuit. Gabriel, who has grown another inch since the end of last season and now stands at six-foot-eight, seems to be discovering more and more of his potential with each passing day and has a very bright future.
Also new to WMA’s 2016 class is another local New England product, this one from the state of Connecticut, as Brenden Vessichio previously starred at Berlin High School. A versatile swingman with good size and a nice combination of athleticism and skill on the wing, Vessichio should be poised to make an immediate impact this season.
Another Connecticut product, repeat sophomore Ryan Murphy, previously starred at Fairfield Prep where he was known primarily for his shot-making ability, but looks poised to play primarily with the ball in his hands at the point guard position this year.
Together that eight man core gives Mannix all he’ll need to contend in Class AA. While other teams might boast a longer roster of college prospects, you can only put five players on the floor at any one time. With this group, Mannix not only has plenty of weapons, but he also has a core of players who all know what to expect in the coming season, which can be one of the most undervalued aspects of transitioning from the public to the prep ranks.