Prep Profile - Wilbraham & Monson
It’s going to begin and end with Wenyen Gabriel and there’s no denying it.
Fresh off his breakout summer, consensus spot among the top 25 prospects in the country and subsequent commitment to Kentucky, there isn’t much left for Gabriel to prove. In fact, perhaps the only thing left on his basketball bucket list, at least at this level, is to lead his team to a NEPSAC championship.
Those are lofty ambitions to be sure, but Gabriel has made a habit of proving his doubters wrong in recent months. The key, however, will have less to do with him and much more to do with his supporting cast, especially given the number of newcomers on the Wilbraham & Monson roster.
The other notable returner on the roster, and a fellow co-captain, is Brenden Vessichio. After a summer that didn’t necessarily go according to plan, Vessichio is looking to bounce back with a big senior year and based on the open gym we saw, there’s a pretty good chance of that happening. It wasn’t just his full assortment of pull-ups and threes, or even the fact that he was up finishing well above the rim, but actually a brand new dimension to his game with his passing and playmaking ability. If he can sustain that during the season, while still playing within himself, it will be a huge boost for the Titans.
There are several newcomers that will be asked to play important roles, beginning with a pair of post-graduates, Julian Alexis and Phillip Bornikof. Alexis is a versatile swingman who can play multiple positions and will give the team another scoring threat on the perimeter while Bornikof is a skilled 6-foot-8 big who will be able to pull opposing post defenders away from the paint.
In the class of 2017, point guard Miles Lester may be the most important newcomer. A true floor general who can create tempo on demand and plays with a wealth of intangibles, Lester looks like the odds on favorite to start with the ball in his hands.
Another important contributor in the junior class will be Brycen Harris, a 6-foot-6 post-player with big, broad shoulders to create all kinds of match-up problems on the post. Coming from Coventry High School in Connecticut, he’ll need some time to adjust to the size, speed and physicality of the NEPSAC, but once he does he’ll provide a post anchor to compliment the perimeter tools of other frontcourt players like Gabriel and Bornikof.
Dakota Wheeler comes from nearby Easthampton (MA), and he too is just starting to adjust to a higher level of competition than he’s ever before seen. Once he does though, he’s a shot-maker and court spacer that will provide some definite value on the offensive end. Tyler Lennon comes to WMA from New Hampshire and is a solid athlete who can play multiple positions and consequently plug various holes off the bench.
Finally, sophomore guard Chris Childs may be the youngest on the team, but his role will exceed his age. In fact, Childs will likely battle Lester for time at the point and could even see time next to him when head coach Mike Mannix elects to go with smaller line-ups to boost the team’s speed and quickness. The New York native already made a name for himself at the recent Elite 75 Frosh/Soph Edition and appears ready to continue that process in the coming season.
Overall, this is a roster that begins with one very big name in Gabriel but then has a variety of new pieces who all need to not only come together but also prove up to the challenge of thriving in the most competitive prep school league in the country.
It’s a process that begins this weekend with a match-up against the Canarias Basketball Academy at the National Prep Showcase.