Prep Profile - Woodstock Academy
Typically, a new prep program would look at year 1 as an opportunity to get their feet wet and set a stable foundation for the future. The administration at Woodstock Academy, however, had their sights set on being anything but typical and have operated with the goal of winning at the highest level from the very beginning. So they hired an established coach with a winning history then gave him the means to build a successful and sustainable program. Instead of just dipping their toes in the water, Woodstock came to the beach prepared to swim with the sharks!
Tony Bergeron takes the reins at Woodstock after spending the last four seasons at Springfield’s Commonwealth Academy. Although the woods of Northern Connecticut offer a stark contrast to his former inner-city campus, Bergeron remains committed to developing under-the-radar talent and relying on a relentless attacking style to make life miserable for his opponents.
With far more depth than Bergeron has been stocked with in the past, Woodstock will have the ability to come at their opponents in waves of fresh bodies without sacrificing much from an overall skill level perspective. A roster loaded with D1 prospects could make Woodstock a genuine contender in ’17-’18.
The Familiar Faces
Since everyone from the trainer to the head coach is in their first year, we’ll focus on the established New England products instead of returning players at Woodstock. And the backcourt is loaded with them.
Jakigh Dottin, Joey Kasperzyk, Chaylyn Martin, and Tyrone Perry give Woodstock a lot more than just name recognition in the program’s inaugural season. They’ll provide veteran leadership in the locker room and bring battle-tested Northeast toughness to the floor on a nightly basis. Their unique blend of dynamic athleticism and mature physical strength will allow Woodstock to play multiple styles on any given night (More on that crew here).
Chris Childs comes to Woodstock from Wilbraham & Monson, providing a stable hand at the point guard position and is the only player on the roster with genuine New England prep experience. Childs can preach the importance of remaining physically and mentally fresh during the grind of the regular season from a different perspective than the coaching staff, having personally gone through it over the last few seasons.
Woodstock’s roster features players from across the country and beyond, giving this team as much diversity and character as you’ll find in New England.
Elijah Buchanan is the only non-New Englander in the backcourt but he’s only about an hour removed. Buchanan comes to Woodstock after compiling a prolific scoring resume as a New York City schoolboy, averaging 22.5ppg as a senior and scoring over 1,000-points in his final two seasons at Mount Saint Michael in The Bronx. The 6’4” wing comes equipped with a 6’11” wingspan and an innate ability to put the ball in the hole.
The frontcourt will be made up entirely of players from outside the region, led by Jaemeril Willson, Luis Rodriguez, and Dibaji Walker. Wilson, a 6’7” Lehigh-commit, comes from Chicago with the total package on the court and in the classroom. Rodriguez, a 6’6” Los Angeles native, brings an unmatched motor and a contagious lead-by-example mentality. Walker, a 6’6” wing from Ohio, is the group’s high-ceiling prospect. His humble demeanor doesn’t allow him to realize just how good he can truly become one day. Walker is good for at least one jaw-dropping highlight on a daily basis and has earned offers from Wyoming and Elon this fall. Their versatility allows them to play together or alongside any other group of 2-4 players Bergeron can put on the court (More on this crew here).
A trio of D1-caliber prospects round out the rotation and Woodstock’s difficult schedule will demand quality minutes out of each of them. Marquis Moore, a high school teammate of Rodriguez, brings added toughness and versatility to the frontcourt. Moore is a 6’6” athlete who simply does whatever is necessary from play-to-play and is the type of glue guy every winning program needs. Ryan Omslaer is a 7-foot space-eater in the post who has shown a propensity to rebound the ball at a high rate throughout the preseason. Maksim Karvanen, a 6’8” big man from Russia, combines the ability to stretch the floor with a high basketball IQ and solid nose for the ball as a rebounder.
Tre Mitchell, a 6’9” big man, has quickly built a strong reputation since arriving at Woodstock and is now being coveted by a wide range of high-level programs. Mitchell, who has an Ivy League academic portfolio, already brings a wide array of moves to the table as a polished post scorer with the potential to become a dynamic weapon from all three levels in the future. His rare set of tools, both on and off the court, have already earned him offers from the likes of Wake Forest, Yale, Harvard, Penn State, Kansas State and Bucknell.
Aleksa Ilic, a skilled 6’9” Serbian, has also garnered attention from D1 programs in his short time in the states. Ilic is a typical European big man with sound fundamentals, good footwork and creative vision as a post passer. Ilic will need game reps in order to adjust to the speed and physicality of the American game at this level but will quickly become a hot commodity once he does.
If Bergeron is on the sidelines, you can guarantee that his team will never give their opponent the opportunity to casually walk the ball up the floor and get into their offense. Offering a free 45-feet of court simply isn’t in his team’s nature and never will be. Woodstock will press, create turnovers, and attack offensively. Once the momentum shifts in their favor, Woodstock will press harder, create more turnovers, and continue to attack offensively until the clock runs out.
This team doesn’t feature a star that is good for 20-and-10 every night like Commonwealth had in Hasahn French last year. But it does have unique depth and more players that fit into Bergeron’s system than he’s ever had before. There may not be an alpha dog but a pack of wild dogs can be even more dangerous, especially when they’re hungry.
The one thing this team will have to overcome is a lack of prep-level experience. Almost every player on the roster comes from either a public high school or inner-city Catholic school program that doesn’t feature the same style of play. Their toughness and grit will be unmatched but they’ll have to find a way to keep that intensity up throughout a long season. It sounds like a little thing but, if adjustments aren’t made, it could play a huge role in their ultimate success.
That said, Woodstock’s talent and depth should allow them to compete with anyone throughout the season and it would be a shock not to see them competing in the National Prep Championship in March.