Prep Profile Worcester Academy
Worcester Academy has had two very different types of teams in the last two years, and this season, head coach Jamie Sullivan is undoubtedly looking to combine the best of both.
Two years ago, Sullivan’s roster had terrific talent but lacked ideal chemistry. They earned the top seed in the Class AA tournament but were upset by St. Andrew’s. Last year the roles were reversed, Worcester had all the intangibles to reflect their head coach’s philosophy but lacked the same sheer talent. They flipped seeds with St. Andrew’s but the outcome was the same.
This season, Sullivan hopes to combine the talent of the first team with the same intangibles we saw from last year’s group, and based on what we saw when we visited Worcester Academy’s open gym last month, that could very well be a possibility.
While the Hilltoppers were competing with energy and enthusiasm, there was also as much depth and balance as we’ve seen from any other program in Class AA. Worcester Academy goes a whopping 14 deep in the NERR database and have at least two potential scholarship level prospects at all five positions.
Junior swingman Saul Phiri is the best returning scorer on the team and likely the most uniquely talented offensive player on the roster. With a handful of offers in the Atlantic 10, Phiri has continued to extend his recruitment in correlation to the expansion of his game as he is learning to put points on the board from a variety of spots on the floor.
Strong guard play is a requisite of any championship contender and so Worcester brought in a pair of local post-graduates to bolster their backcourt. Holy Cross bound point guard Patrick Benzan had a record setting career at Roxbury Latin, and while he was sidelined with injury the day we watched, he’s had a very strong pre-season to date according to all reports.
Jeff Spellman, a post-graduate from Beaver Country Day, has also had a strong fall. He looked revitalized this summer as he not only showed his athleticism and shot-making, but also starting playing with the ball in his hands on a more consistent basis, and has continued to play that role since arriving at Worcester.
Senior Quentin Bullen will provide another backcourt weapon off the bench because of his experience and versatile two-way game. Sophomore Charlie Clay is a dependable point guard who could see time on the second unit while Emmanuel Anderson provides added depth.
There is even more depth along the frontline where a pair of newcomers, Kevin Marfo and Ben Marello, lead the way. Marfo is repeat junior and powerful interior presence at six-foot-eight while Marello is a skilled six-foot-six forward.
Nick Pasquale returns for his second season at Worcester after being limited by injuries for the better part of the last eight months. He gives them definite size and a true center at six-foot-eleven while six-foot-eight post-graduate James Loring has been a pleasant surprise this fall as well.
Repeat junior James Wells is a skilled stretch forward who earned his first division I offer from Canisius earlier this fall while repeat sophomore Greg Kuakumensah scored a similar offer from Fairfield. Fellow sophomore Caden Dumas and freshman center Jared Whitt provide even more young talent up front to build towards the future.
So much depth and balance will provide Coach Sullivan with a variety of options. Worcester could go small by putting Benzan, Spellman, and Phiri on the floor together in a three-guard line-up along with two forwards or they could slide Phiri over to the two, next to either Benzan or Spellman, move Morello over to the three because of his skill set, and then play a pair of true bigs in Marfo and Pasquale.
Given the talent, depth, and versatility of the squad, if they can come together as a unit and show the same collectiveness toughness that we saw a year ago, Worcester Academy could very well be among the top contenders in Class AA.