Top Stories of 2012
The new year is officially upon us, but before we officially turn the page on 2012, let’s take one final look back on the biggest stories from the year that was:
Reclassify or Declassify
Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden, and Noah Vonleh were credited in the national media for creating a trend by which top other top prospects like Anthony Wiggins and Dakari Johnson went to college a year earlier than expected. The reality is that in New England, reclassification has become somewhat common with after Shabazz Napier, Alex Murphy, Khem Birch, and Andre Drummond being some of the most notable examples in recent years. This year, Harrison Taggart, Patrick Steeves, and Matt Barr were other examples of guys who “reclassified” upon their arrival in prep school only to “declassify” later by returning to their original graduating class.
New England has never had more nationally sponsored grassroots programs than they did in 2012. BABC and the New England Playaz continued to be sponsored by Nike and Adidas respectively while Mass Rivals and Connecticut Basketball Club were also on the Adidas circuit. Expressions Elite spent last year under the Reebok banner but signed on with Nike this fall to join next year’s EYBL circuit.
Revitalization & Departure
Kuran Iverson’s stock was reborn this summer with a staring performance at the NBA Player’s Association Camp and supplemental showings at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy and New England Elite 75 Showcase. Unfortunately for New England fans, he would soon after announce he was leaving the region to spend his senior season at Fishburne Military School in Virginia, where he later committed to Memphis.
Fresh off their move into the Atlantic 10, Butler began to assert themselves in the local recruiting landscape and came away with commitments from two of the most productive seniors in New England. Andrew Chrabascz and Rene Castro will both be playing for Brad Stevens next year as they take on the likes of UMass, URI, and the rest of the Atlantic 10.
Three in a Row for BABC
The BABC went down to Orlando, Florida and came back with their third consecutive 10th grade AAU national championship. BABC scored an overtime victory over Team Charlotte after Jonathan Joseph buried a three to force the extra period. Bonzie Colson, Tyree Robinson, Curtis Cobb, Tyler Nelson, Bobby Ahearn, Nick Cambio, and Jerrelle Washington contributed to BABC’s 17th national championship under head coach and founder Leo Papile.
Abu Feasts on Competition in July
Abdul-Malik Abu led a trio of 2014 big men, which also included Goodluck Okonoboh and Paschal Chukwu, to have breakout summers. Abu made national headlines not just by virtue of his performances, but also because he was playing the best basketball of his career while simultaneously fasting for the holiday of Ramadan. His performances did not go unnoticed as he made his debut in ESPN’s national rankings shortly afterward.
Winchendon and MCI Defect
The landscape of prep school basketball was irrevocably changed last spring when two tradition prep powerhouses, Winchendon and MCI, both announced that they would be leaving Class AAA of the NEPSAC and essentially de-emphasizing their basketball programs. While new prep programs continue to emerge in New England, these decisions were a sad conclusion to what had been two of the most storied prep programs in all of New England.
Rivals in April
The month of April was a big one for the Mass Rivals as they opened their grassroots season with a championship at the Northeast Hoops Festival, before making national headlines during their first showing on the Adidas circuit. A weekend later, they returned home to New England to take another championship, this time at the Providence Jam Fest, as guys like Noah Vonleh, Kaleb Joseph, Matt Cimino, Dimitri Floras, and others all improved their recruiting stock.
The Next Anthony Davis?
As soon as Anthony Davis led Kentucky to the 2012 national championship, Nerlens Noel was immediately anointed the heir apparent to Davis’ dominance. When the reigning freshman of the year was selected with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, those lofty expectations only gained momentum. Noel finished his high school career as the top ranked prospect in the national class of 2012.
Brewster Academy Captures Second National Championship
In March, Brewster Academy became the first prep school in the country to win more than one National Prep Championship. Head coach Jason Smith’s squad took narrow victories over Massanutten Military Academy and Notre Dame Prep in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively while knocking off Hargrave Military Academy in the final. Jakarr Sampson earned MVP honors while Mitch McGary, Aaron Thomas, T.J. Warren, Semaj Christon, Jaylen Reynolds, Joe Bramanti, and others played important roles.
NMH Wins 1st NEPSAC Crown
Northfield Mount Hermon broke the barrier in March, scoring the programs first NEPSAC AAA championship. Spike Albrecht became New England’s best Cinderella story, earning MVP honors en route to a commitment to Michigan while Evan Cummins, Pete Miller, Ethan O’Day, Sam Donahue, Anthony Dallier and others also played pivotal parts as NMH knocked off St. Thomas More in a hard fought final.
Lubick Goes Out on Top
Longtime St. Mark’s head coach Dave Lubick called it quits after a highly successful coaching career. The defensive oriented disciplinarian would go out on top though as St. Mark’s captured the NEPSAC AA crown by knocking off Tilton in the final and breaking their streak of four straight NEPSAC championships. Kaleb Tarczewski battled Noel in the lane while Nik Stauskas took MVP honors. Seniors Jayme Spears and Eli Lubick also turned in big performances in the final.
Montelli; St. Joe’s Lead State Championship Winners
Throughout all the various state championship winners int New England’s six states, no story was more dramatic than St. Joseph’s High School of Connecticut. The Cadets scored their second consecutive CIAC state championship behind James Jennings, Timaj Parker-Rivera, Patrick Hopkins, Quincey McKnight, and others. The win would be the last one for the team’s 80 year old head coach Vito Montelli, who would later announce his retirement after 11 state championships and a New England best 878 career wins.
*Disclaimers – top stories did not include individual commitments; stories were presented not in order of importance, but in chronological order