Top Prospects in the CIAC
While the top talent in New England is often clustered in the prep ranks during the winter months, there are always players to be found in the local state associations.
This year is no different and with all six state associations now up and running at full speed, we’ll take the better part of the next week to profile the top players in each of those states.
First up is the CIAC in Connecticut, which has managed to keep some of its top local talent in recent years including both Mustapha Heron and Tremont Waters.
There might not be quite that same star power this season, but there is still plenty of depth.
Top Seniors in the CIAC
With a pair of state championships in recent years, East Catholic is hungry for more and they have a talented enough roster to make another run. Matt Verretto will play a leadership role as the southpaw forward is poised to put up big numbers but may be even more valuable with his intangibles and work-ethic.
Mekhi Warren is the only starter returning for the Class LL reigning champions Hillhouse and he’ll be ready to play a starring role. The 6’5 bouncy forward is battle tested and will get a chance to play both inside and out for the Academics this year.
Sacred Heart is another defending state champion that will have to overcome the loss of multiple starters. The task of repeating will be even more challenging given that they’ll move up to Division I after four straight titles at the lower levels. Raheem Solomon is back and fully healthy after missing the grassroots season and he and fellow senior Isaiah Gaiter will face the brunt of that responsibility.
Reigning class S champions Trinity Catholic returns arguably the top big man in the FCIAC in Cantavio Dutreil. The athletic 6’7 big man has one of the highest motors in the state and is beginning to stretch his game away from the paint. His running mate, Dimitry Moise, is a highflying wing who can score the ball at all three levels and also impact the game defensively.
There are a couple of star seniors in Fairfield with Sean Conway and Tyler Bourne returning for Warde and Notre Dame respectively. Conway started to make a name for himself beyond just the CIAC this summer and should be one of the FCIAC’s best this season. Bourne is that engine that keeps Notre Dame moving with his smooth quickness and playmaking ability.
Amity guard Tyler Thomas is coming off a breakout summer of sorts himself and looks to be the best returning player in the SCC. He’s already put up multiple 30-point games so far and has a chance to continue at that pace throughout the season.
St. Paul’s Tyler Arbuckle also appears poised for a big year as he’s continued to expand his game at a rapid rate. The southpaw can make shots and plays off the dribble alike and should be virtually unmatched when the division III state tournament rolls around.
Arbuckle’s only real competition in division III might come from Waterford’s Mike Buscetto, the CIAC’s version of Steve Nash, who is already off the board to Southern New Hampshire after having earned himself a full scholarship this summer.
Top Juniors in the CIAC
East Catholic’s Joey Reilly has been playing with a veteran type poise since he was a freshman and as a junior there are few, if any, steadier guards in the state. He'll join Veretto to give East Catholic a quality one-two punch.
Connor Raines has an opportunity to take on a starring role at Notre Dame West Haven following the graduation of Waters while Joshua Reaves is a very worthy running mate for Bourne at Notre Dame Fairfield.
East Lyme’s Dev Ostrowski has put up perhaps more points to date than any other player in the class while there are a host of other juniors who could be on the verge of breakout years including Xavier’s Jackson Benigni, Enfield Jaden Archer, Lewis Mill’s Josh Schibi, and Bassick’s Jordan Gallimore (who will team up with his older brother, 6’9 senior Jaelin Gallimore).
Top Underclassmen in the CIAC
Sticking with a similar theme, East Catholic has a dynamic tandem in the class of 2020 with Trey Hall and Matt Knowling. Hall carries a big reputation and is starting to turn his potential into production with an increased willingness to play inside-out. Knowling is a lefty guard with a high upside who is active on both ends and has a mature game despite his young age.
New Canaan has a talented young core including Augustus Larson, Alexander Gibbens, and Ryan McAleer in the class of 2020 while Aidan Rountree and Taz Daniels are expected to have breakout years for Hillhouse. Also keep an eye on Amity’s Tanner Thomas, Northwest Catholic’s Primo Spears, and North Haven’s Ethan Okwuosa among others.
If you’re looking for some freshmen ready to make an immediate contribution then look no further than Fairfield Prep’s Avery Brown, Staples’ Luke Murphy, Farmington’s Bube Momah, and Amity’s Cole Wissink.