Prep Profiles Tilton School
The New England Basketball community has been buzzing in recent weeks with anticipation over the upcoming NBA season. With the Boston Celtics bringing together Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, local fans are hoping the “Big Three” can lead the C’s back to the NBA crown.
The Tilton School has their own version of the big three, and they are hoping that Alex Oriakhi, Jamal Coombs, and Jamal Turner will be able to lead them to the NEPSAC Class B crown. All three players seem to have their eye on the prize as they are solely focused on winning games after having already made their college selections (Oriakhi and Coombs to UConn, Turner to Fairfield).
Turner was particularly impressive during the workout we observed. After transferring from Thayer Academy in Massachusetts, he will no longer be relied upon to create the majority of his team’s offense, instead he will be asked to play the point and run the team. He appears to be thriving in that role so far, as he is doing a much better job of staying under control and making good decisions with the ball. He also has a much improved outside stroke and mid-range game. In addition to knocking down open threes Tuesday, he was also doing a nice job of scoring from 12-18 feet with a series of pull-up jumpers and step back moves.
Jamal Coombs also appears poised for a big season. Physically, he is an almost impossible match-up on the wing as his length, athleticism, and much improved physique should all prove to be huge advantages. He is likely to guard the opposition’s best perimeter scorer and be a versatile player on the offensive end who can play on or off the ball and beat his defender in a number of ways.
In the middle Alex Oriakhi should dominate the competition. Not only is he is bigger, stronger, and more athletic than virtually any other center in Class B, but he also has a very impressive skill set. In addition to having a wide variety of moves with his back to the basket, including a soft jump hook with either hand, Oriakhi has also developed a nice jump shot from 18 feet and in when trailing the break. He is equally effective on the defensive end where his ability to block shots and rebound the ball should allow him to control the paint.
As good as Tilton’s “Big Three” may be, if they are going to win the whole thing they will need the rest of the roster to produce. New Hampshire native Dave Aquilino appears to be an excellent fit on the wing as he is a terrific three-point shooter with a high basketball I.Q.
The fifth starting spot could depend on match-ups as Head Coach Marcus O’Neil will have the luxury of going with either 6’2” guard Dominic Scurry or 6’5” power forward Teddy Bridgman. Scurry is an incredibly quick player who is at his best in the open floor and has all the physical attributes to be an outstanding defender. Bridgeman is an ideal compliment to Oriakhi’s dominance in the post, as he can both make shots and see the floor from the high post position.
Thomas Hughes, Yung-fa Yang, and George Niang are other players who should provide depth off the bench. Hughes is a native of England who can make shots from the perimeter and get to the rim on occasion. Yang is a player with a good offensive skill set who will be best served against zone defenses thanks to his three-point shooting prowess. Niang is a talented freshman who offers good size up front.
Ultimately, Tilton’s season may end up to be very similar to that of their local NBA team. While the addition of their “big three” automatically makes them a championship contender, ultimately their championship aspirations will rely greatly upon their supporting cast. One thing is for certain it will certainly be a fun year in Class B with the likes of Tilton, Marianapolis Prep, St. Andrew’s, and Cushing all fighting hard for that top spot.