Prep Profiles 23-24 - CATS

Owen Carlson | Friday, December 29th, 2023

Prep Profiles 23-24 - CATS

CATS Academy, one of two programs that are new to the elite NEPSAC Class-AA conference this year (along with NMH), has started the year on a great note with a renewed roster filled with high-level returners and some big newcomers. They have already begun signing players to continue their basketball careers in college. Let’s take a look at the intriguing lineup for this year…


“Cary Herer has put together a terrific squad at CATS with a number of high upside prospects, and have started the season out very strong. Jaylen Harrell’s SRC outing against Brimmer was one of the finest shot-making performances I have seen this year. Desmond Bellot and Patrick Otey might be underclassmen, but have formed a daunting young backcourt. Bellot is in charge of initiating the offense, distributing the ball, disrupting opposing offenses and scoring key points while Otey’s spot-up marksmanship and poise is impressive and continues to turn heads. 2026’s Nelson Mboudjika and Julien Kabori have shown flashes in the frontcourt, plus Osa Idada has made some big plays with his impressive football-esque frame at 6’ 6”. Joshua Ojuri too is another guard/wing with Division 1 offers and has impacted a number of games with his offensive arsenal. Keep an eye on this young team both this year and in the years ahead.  ” -Dylan Thayer


3 Things You Need to Know About This Year’s Team


Juniors leading the way…

As we begin taking a look through this year’s roster for CATS Academy, the first thing that pops out is the team’s lack of 2024s. However, that has not stopped this squad from finding success throughout the first half of the season.

Jeremy Rudnick is the squad’s only 2024. The high-academic Canadian prospect has shown that he is a great spot up shooter, and he knows how to use his size to his advantage on the interior. 

As they’ve been asked to step up in a major way, CATS has one of the most intriguing junior classes out there. Two have already received offers to continue their careers in college on full-ride scholarships.

Jaylen Harrell has received offers from Columbia, UMass, Alabama, Providence, Georgetown, Washington, Wake Forest, Xavier, and Rutgers. He dropped 44 points (16/27 from the floor) with 11 rebounds in an overtime win over NEPSAC-AA competitor Brimmer & May. Most recently, he led CATS with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in a rout of another NEPSAC-AA competitor in MacDuffie. 

Joshua Ojuri has received offers from Bryant, Albany, and Manhattan. He comes from La Salle (RI), where he played an important role last season. He uses his superior athleticism for dunks, rebounds, and blocks. 

Their talent in the class of 2025 doesn’t end there, as Marvin Louis has impressed on the Zero Gravity XL circuit, dropping 19 in an overtime win with ASA, and Osa Idada has also already impressed on the Adidas 3SSB Circuit with Rivals, as well as at the NEPSAC Showcase this past summer, earning interest from Brown, as well as from Patriot League and NEC schools.


The 2026s are already right there with the 2025s…

CATS Academy’s class of 2026 is just as intriguing, with three players already beginning to collect Division I offers, including Desmond Bellot, (Jay) Nelson Mboudjika, and Julian Kabori. Bellot has received an offer from UMass, and all three of these big time recruits have received an offer from Bryant. 

Bellot opened the season with 17 points and 6 assists against Navy Prep (RI). He recently added 14 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals in the rout of MacDuffie at the St. Andrew’s Holiday Classic, earning standout recognition.

Mboudjika began the year with a 12-rebound performance, also adding 3 blocks on the defensive end. Julian Kabori has been collecting numerous standout honors for his performance at various showcases throughout the past year. Both stand at 6’9”. Another 2026 is Stephen Antwi from Ghana.


The only 2027 is a name you should already know…

Patrick Otey has been making a LOT of noise as he begins his prep basketball career. Otey has already received offers from Eastern Washington, Providence, Washington, and Xavier. 

He had two great games at the Scholar Roundball Classic, leading CATS with 18 points and 8 rebounds in a win against Polaris Prep, and charting a double-double in a big overtime victory over Brimmer & May, dropping 22 points with 10 rebounds and shooting 8/15 from the floor. 

He will be one to follow over the next few years, as he is sure to continue garnering high major offers throughout the remainder of his prep career.


3 Questions Heading into the Season


Can they continue meshing? 

With a lot of talent on the roster, combined with a complete lack of a class of 2024, it will be interesting to see how they can all play together throughout the year. Jaylen Harrell has carved himself out as a leader in the class of 2025… can anyone else use this season as a chance to step up to his level?


Can they maintain their current success? 

With big wins coming against some of the top-ranked preps in the country, where will they end up by the end of the season? As is the classic issue in the NEPSAC, it will be hard to compete with the highest level of talent and come out with a record that looks good, but it will be interesting to see how they will be by the end of the year.


How will they compare to last year?

With this being the Griffins’ first season at the NEPSAC Class-AA level, it makes it a little bit trickier to compare. Last season, CATS was not accepted to the Class-A postseason tournament. This year, they are already looking like a safe bet to be well-seeded in the Class-AA playoffs. 


So far this season:

The Griffins have a 7-2 record at the time of this article’s writing, with big regional wins, especially the overtime victory over NEPSAC-AA competitor and local powerhouse Brimmer & May, as well as on the national/international stage with the victory over Polaris Prep from Canada, both at the Scholar Roundball Classic. Their only losses so far have come against NEPSAC-AAA powerhouse Bridgton Academy by just 7 and NEPSAC-AA competitor and local powerhouse Cushing Academy by just 6. This is surely a team to follow as the season continues…