Vermont Academy Rising

Lucas Shapiro | Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Vermont Academy Rising

Vermont Academy’s new head basketball coach Jess Bopp came onto campus last May with one mission: to build a program. This was a school that was never known for its basketball tradition, but more for its beautiful campus.
“The hardest part for me was the time at which I took the job in May,” said Bopp on his hiring, “most players were already locked into situations and there were not many kids available.”

Just like any program that needs to be built, someone had to take a risk on Vermont Academy. Ryan Romich, a 6’6” athletic forward, made the decision to go to Vermont despite some interest from Division I colleges.

“[Ryan] really got us going because his name carries some weight in New England since he could have gone to another school and there was some Division I interest for him. To have him come to us was perfect because he represented the hard working kid looking to improve that we wanted to bring into the program,” said Bopp.

“I felt like the people at Vermont Academy were what influenced my decision to attend the school,” said Romich, “Coach Bopp is such a high character and high-energy guy. I felt like he was the right guy to make the most out of my post-graduate year. I knew that he would give everything he had for the Vermont Academy basketball program and myself.”

After Romich, Bopp managed to land three other star caliber players in Keron DeShields, Daquein McNeil, and Martin Dixon-Green.

DeShields is an under-the-radar guard mid-major prospect who struggled to find too much playing time at Towson Catholic in Baltimore. The post-graduate guard’s role for the Wildcats is to be the primary ball handler and playmaker. McNeil, who also happens to be a Baltimore native, is a sophomore with a high ceiling. Bopp claims that he has the potential to become “the next great player in line to come out of Baltimore.”

Their marquee player, however, is Martin Dixon-Green from Ontario. Nolan Schulman’s, a Canadian Scouting Service, has the junior ranked as the third best player in the class of 2012 in Canada. His explosive game and nice range on his shot makes him a lethal weapon for Vermont, as can be seen by the latest New England Recruiting Report Video of the Week of Dixon-Green going off against Wilbraham and Monson.

“With those four kids, we have all guys who are looking to improve and are under-the-radar on the national level,” said Bopp, “My approach in year one is to maximize our potential and improve daily.  I’m not as concerned about landing a big name player than how much we improve each day. The kids have done an unbelievable job to bond together and work hard daily. “
Their hard work has shown as well. As we mentioned in our NEPSAC Class AA Preview, the Vermont Academy of last year might not have won one game in the competitive AA division. To start the year off, Vermont Academy’s overall record is 9-3 and 5-3 in league play. They’ve had impressive wins over teams such as Brimmer and May, Kimball Union, and Wilbraham and Monson and hung in there with teams like St. Andrews and Cushing Academy. 

“It has been a fun season so far,” said Bopp, “You spend so much time with these kids that it’s important that you bring in the right kids and I think I’ve done that.”

“The future of the Vermont Academy basketball team is in great hands with coach Bopp at the helm, said Romich, “He will not only continue to bring in great players, but kids with great respect for the game. He is a phenomenal coach who has brought much more than just his knowledge of the game to Vermont Academy.”

The Vermont Academy Wildcats will go up against the Tilton School and Brewster Academy this week. It will be interesting to see how this new program will handle these two powerhouses. Who knows, maybe after a few years, we might be referring to them as a powerhouse.