Yags’ Point Forward - Spring Review
With the July live period right around the corner, now is a good time to take a look back at which players helped themselves the most, which local teams are in position to make national headlines, and which college programs have made their presence felt within the New England region this Spring.
Spring Brings New Offers, Major Risers In Class of ‘17
The top prospects in New England’s Class of 2017 brought their recruitment to the absolute highest levels this spring, as Hamidou Diallo and Tremont Waters now count Duke and Kentucky among the programs now vying for their services. Both players earned offers from the elite of the elite after their performances at the Nike EYBL’s Brooklyn session in April, which only verified their status among the elite players at their respective positions nationally. Makai Ashton-Langford has continued to build on an already stellar resume, leading a deep Mass Rivals squad to a 7-1 record in the Adidas Gauntlet and seeing continued interest from UConn, Louisville, and Providence, who have all made him a priority for their ’17 class.
Playing alongside Waters with Expressions Elite, New Hampton’s Kimani Lawrence put together an extremely productive and efficient spring in the EYBL. Lawrence proved to be one of the elite 3-and-D wings on the market and consistently flashed explosive athletic ability in transition, leading to offers from high major programs like Pittsburgh, Miami, and Texas.
Kellen Grady took himself off the board with his commitment to Davidson early in the spring and wasn’t fully healthy during the New England Playaz first few sessions in the Adidas Gauntlet. But over the course of the last month, Grady has reminded everyone why he was such a hot commodity toward the end of the prep season, leading the Playaz to a championship in the Adidas Memorial Day Tournament in Atlanta and played extremely well at the Zero Gravity Finals last weekend.
Here are just a few of the New England prospects that added new offers or saw their recruitment jump to an entirely different level this spring:
Makhtar Gueye, Mass Rivals – While other New England prospects may have increased their stock this spring, Gueye’s stock was akin to a hot new tech business just entering the market this spring and his IPO (Initial Public Offering) immediately went through the roof. The slim 6’10” native of Senegal has a sound all around skillset, moves effortlessly up and down the court, already has a solid stroke from beyond the arch, and offers a lot of the strengths coaches are looking for in a hybrid Big/Wing athlete in today’s game. Programs like Marquette, Depaul, and Creighton offered earlier in the spring and were followed by powerhouse programs like UConn, Florida, and VCU. Gueye is headed to Aspire Academy in Arizona to play out the final year of his prep career but his meteoric rise will be used as an example of what working on your game can lead to amongst coaches and scouts in the New England area long after this year.
Anthony Gaines, Albany City Rocks – The New Hampton product has been one of the most productive prospects in the Nike EYBL circuit, a league that boasts 72 prospects in the latest ESPN 100. Gaines stuffed the stat sheet with elite efficiency, averaging 15.7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.7 steals per contest while shooting over 57% from the field. More importantly though, Gaines gave his City Rocks squad exactly what they needed as an attacking wing who fearlessly battled in the paint for boards and loose balls. The 6’5” Gaines heads into the Peach Jam as one of 14 players vying for the EYBL MVP and boasts offers from Providence, Cincinnati, Temple, and Dayton as a result.
Andrew Platek, Albany City Rocks – His scholarship offer from North Carolina has been well documented over the last few months but it speaks to the growing priority and value that coaches at every level are placing on elite shooters. The fact that Platek worked so hard to become an elite shooter has almost gone overlooked in the story. Platek came to Northfield-Mt Hermon last season with interest from a few D1 programs but clearly dedicated himself to his craft and is now one of the premier shooters in the Class of 2017. The 6’4” wing is shooting 45% from 3 in EYBL play heading into the Peach Jam and recently visited Davidson and North Carolina on back-to-back days after visiting Butler, Miami and Harvard earlier in the spring.
Marcus Santos Silva, BABC – The 6’7” wide-bodied big man used his superior motor and length to dominate EYBL opponents in the post and put up rebounding numbers that would lead some to believe that he’s actually 7’6”. Santos-Silva currently sits 10th in the Nike EYBL in rebounding, hauling in 9.2 boards a game to go along with 12.5 points while leading the BABC to a berth in the Peach Jam. Santos-Silva cemented his status as an elite rebounder and low post scoring weapon during the EYBL’s Atlanta session at the end of May. In BABC’s 5 games, Santos-Silva averaged 20 points and 12 boards against some of the country’s most dominant big men. He finally got an opportunity to play alongside entirely healthy ensemble of BABC teammates at last weekend’s Zero Gravity Finals as BABC ran through the field to capture the varsity division championship. Santos-Silva heads into the July live period already boasting offers Boston College, Providence, Duquesne, and DePaul. With college coaches understanding that elite rebounding numbers translate from level-to-level more often than any other statistic in basketball, Santos-Silva is likely to hear from more programs throughout the summer.
Hasahn French, PSA Cardinals – Playing on a PSA roster loaded with high major talent, French earned rave reviews for his willingness to do the little things his team needed to win games throughout the first two EYBL sessions. But with all-everything teammate Mohamed Bamba sidelined with an ankle injury during the Virginia and Atlanta sessions, French proved that he was more than capable of carrying a bigger burden on both ends. In his last 8 EYBL games, French averaged 11.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while shooting 57% from the field. PSA went 7-1 over that span and clinched the top spot in their division. French earned a spot in the Cream of the Crop Game at the Pangos All-American Camp in California earlier this month and received invitations to Nike’s Elite 100 and the NBPA’s Top-100 camps. French has already taken unofficial visits to Temple and St Louis, but the New York native also counts Rutgers, St John’s, Marquette, and Arizona State amongst his long list of potential suitors.
Geo Baker, DC Blue Devils – The 6’3” point guard in the making might still be in the early stages of his recruiting rise if his newest scholarship offers tell us anything. Kansas State and Rutgers offered Baker at the end of April but his game has continued to improve and his productivity seems to reach new heights each time he takes the court. There are times when a player’s motor masks his deficiencies skill-wise as a basketball player. Then there are prospects like Baker, whose motor consistently runs hot but is fueled by a passion to win and constantly puts him in positions to make a positive impact on the court. Baker’s body is also improving. The added muscle is giving him more confidence attacking the basket and is turning him into a menace defensively. His list of scholarship offers will continue growing well into the summer. Baker has visits to Northeastern, George Washington, and George Mason over the next few weeks.
Terrell Brown, BABC – After opting for a postgrad season next year at Tilton, Brown seems rejuvenated and brought a much higher level of confidence to the court this spring. His productivity reflects his attitude as Brown has averaged 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks per game in the EYBL. Brown has also showed an ability to step out and hit from distance. The 6’10” big man is shooting 56% (9-16) from 3 for BABC. The sample size is small but is also impressive, as it not only speaks to the improvements in Brown’s game but also shows that he hasn’t fallen in love with the outside shot. Brown was a key contributor for BABC in their championship run at the ZG Finals and heads into the July live period with an improved game to show off at the Peach Jam.
Class of 2018 Sets Their Foundation
The bar is going to be set tremendously high for the Class of 2018, as the two graduating classes of New England prep prospects before them are star-studded and will be represented at the highest levels of major college basketball. Before they can begin reaching for that bar they first have to set the foundation, something they’ve done quite well this spring.
Some prospects from the Class of ’18 who stood out this spring:
AJ Reeves, Mass Rivals – Playing on a team that features up to 11 other mid- to high-major players on any given day could be a daunting task for any player. But Reeves has certainly risen to the level of his competition and will reap the benefits in the near future. Showing off a more balanced jump shot with a higher release at the NERR Super 16 in May, the onus is now on Reeves to spend the necessary amount of time in the gym to polish his jump shot and other areas of his game. The Roxbury native already holds offers from UConn, Creighton, Providence, VCU, Rutgers, and Louisville. Reeves also heard from Villanova, Virginia, Miami, and Xavier during the first day of the contact period.
Eric Ayala, WE-R1 – Ayala took full advantage of playing on the Under Armour Association circuit alongside Trevon Duval, the top point guard in the 2017 class. The 6’3” point guard from Putnam Science flashed his own high major skillset and proved that he’s just as dangerous playing off the ball, creating from the wing. Ayala averaged 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game while shooting over 35% from beyond the arch and helped lead his to a 9-3 record so far in the Association schedule. Seton Hall and USC have offered Ayala while UConn, Kansas, Providence, Maryland, and Miami have also been in contact.
Nate Laszewski, New England Playaz – Laszewski has parlayed the invaluable experience he gained late in the season for Northfield-Mt Hermon into an extremely successful spring and has become one of the premier big shooting wings on the market. Laszewski seemed to maintain the momentum from his MVP performance in the NEPSAC tournament early in April, but hit a brief shooting slump in Gauntlet play. His stroke was clearly back in full swing at the recent ZG finals and his tools haven’t gone unnoticed by college staffs either. The 6’8” marksman was contacted by coaches from Duke, UConn, Villanova, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia this week.
Cole Swider, BABC – I’m not sure how hard he can throw but the 6’8” Swider certainly proved he has the perfect temperament to be an MLB Closer if basketball doesn’t work out. It didn’t take Swider long to adjust to getting the call from the bullpen to help the BABC’s injury-riddled 17U squad during their 3rd EYBL session in Virginia. Swider scored 51 points in 63 minutes and hitting 42% (11-26) of his 3’s over the course of four games, highlighted by a 20-point performance in 18 minutes against Philly powerhouse Team Final and earning him a spot in the BABC rotation for their final EYBL session in Georgia.
Cormac Ryan, Middlesex Magic – Ryan is an extremely gifted ballplayer who combines great vision and a smooth jumper with above average athleticism and tight handle to form one of the better point guard packages in the Northeast. He also has the size and skillset required to slide over and play off the ball. Ryan showed off the entire package at the NERR Super 16 in leading Middlesex to a Varsity division championship. College coaching staffs only reaffirmed how valued his skills are in today’s game on the first day of the contact period. St John’s head coach Chris Mullin extended an offer to Ryan last Friday night. Ryan also heard from Notre Dame, Michigan, Providence, Florida, Stanford, Northwestern, Harvard, and Oklahoma, along with about a dozen others. After lighting up Harvard’s Elite Camp over the weekend, Ryan’s buzz is most likely only in its infancy.
Arashma Parks, PSA Cardinals – The Commonwealth Academy product has gotten into the best condition of his young career while still being able to maintain the size and strength that gives him a distinct advantage in the post. Parks catches drop off passes in the post and flushes them home with the fluidity and power necessary to be a productive post player in the NEPSAC and beyond. Parks’ future is extremely bright and he currently counts UMass, St Louis, and Towson on his list of offers.
Darnell Brodie, New England Playaz – Like Parks, Brodie is a big bodied post player who doesn’t pretend to be anything else. So it’s no surprise that the brolic 6’9” 250lb Putnam Science product has garnered major interest this spring. After taking unofficial trips to Temple and Monmouth last weekend, Brodie also received offers from Seton Hall, Iona, UMass, and Towson. Brodie is a true enforcer in the post but is becoming a more skilled basketball player by the day.
Tyler Burton, Mass Elite – After growing five inches since September, Burton really started coming into his own this spring. Now 6’4” and armed with a 6’8” wingspan, Burton is a threat to go off for 20+ in any given game regardless of the opponent. Burton went directly into the heart of a huge PSA Cardinal defense time after time during the NERR HoopFest and single-handedly kept his team in the game throughout. Burton has a clean stroke from beyond the arch and uses his aforementioned length to keep his dribble low and tight. After another great performance at Basketbull’s Summer Tip-Off last weekend, Burton looks primed to gain a ton of interest during the July live period.
Chuck Hannah, New England Playaz – Some college coaches won’t have interest in Hannah because they can’t apply a specific position to the tough 6’5” Northfield-Mt Hermon product. Others won’t allow that to get in their way and will immediately fall in love with Hannah’s tenacity and willingness to do whatever his team needs. Hannah employs an elite motor to go along with tremendous bounce, fantastic length, and a sound all-around game. He’s built from the same cloth as former St Andrew’s and current Notre Dame big man Bonzi Colson, using his sturdy build to gain leverage in the post and superior intelligence to beat bigger players to rebounds. Hannah was recently offered by Pennsylvania and Boston University after his performance at their Elite Camp.
Ethan Wright, New England Playaz – If you’re looking for an early sleeper in New England’s 2018 Class, look no further than Wright. Even if you had an opportunity to watch him play, Wright’s actions and on court style might not necessarily even wake you up. The 6’1” guard brings a silently smooth style to the floor, quietly piling up the productivity without becoming the target of the opposing defense and operates with the same dangerous precision that allows Navy SEALS not to be seen by their target until it’s far too late. Wright’s phone wasn’t so silent on the first day of the contact period though, as the Newton North product received an offer from Brown while also hearing from the likes of Syracus, Virginia, Harvard, and Seton Hall.
Young Bucks Refuse To Be Ignored
The Connecticut Basketball Club’s 15U squad has provided coaches and scouts in the New England area with talking points throughout the spring, all while giving their Under Armour Association opponent’s nothing but headaches.Led by Chol Marial, a 7’2” wunderkind who recently finished his freshman year at Cheshire Academy, the CBC’s future is as bright as anyone on the grassroots circuit.
Marial was challenged throughout the NEPSAC season and struggled early on to adjust to the league’s speed and physicality. However, glimpses of Marial’s outrageous potential were on display at certain points in every game and by midseason he was routinely posting double-doubles. Fast forward to the spring and the same story can be told.
After adjusting to yet another set of new teammates and surroundings, Marial made the Association’s second stop his personal proving ground. The big man averaged a little over 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game while making 70% (26-37) of his field goal attempts and leading CBC to a 3-1 record. Marial is CBC’s highest ranked prospect (currently 7th in the 2019 ESPN-25) and would be on almost any team he played for, but has a formidable group of teammates that can’t go overlooked.
Jaiden Delaire, a 6’7” wing who will become a part of Loomis Chaffee’s 2019 class this fall, is a rare talent who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Having grown almost 8 inches over the last few years, Delaire grew up handling the basketball and shooting treys. He hasn’t gone through any major growing pains when it comes to understanding how to use his new size though. Delaire is in constant motion offensively and routinely benefits from wide open looks underneath the rim after slipping behind the defense.
Delaire is equally as comfortable working in the open court or from the top of the key, both offensively and defensively. He’s currently shooting 55% (5-9) from 3 in Association play and, even though it’s a small sample size, it forces opposing defenses to stay honest. Delaire currently has offers from UMass, Iona, and Quinnipiac.
Isaiah Gaiter and Cairo McCrory give the CBC a dynamic wing tandem that can score from all three levels. Gaiter, a 6’4” PG/Wing combo from Platt-Meriden, is built like a tank and already knows how to use his length to wreak havoc on the defensive end. Gaiter recently earned an offer from Iona after participating in their elite camp over the weekend. McCrory, a 6’3” wing from Northwest Catholic (CT), does a lot of his damage while attacking the basket and outworking everyone in the post for easy put backs. McCrory’s jumper has improved immensely this spring. Better balance, more consistent rotation, and an overall smoother motion helped him to shoot a whopping 70% (7-10) from beyond the arch on the Under Armour circuit.
Joey Reilly has picked up right where he left off during the prep season, when he became a major contributor for East Catholic about halfway through the season and continued to play a pivotal role in their CIAC Class L state championship run. Reilly is currently the CBC’s 2nd leading scorer at 11 points per and is doing it with amazing efficiency. Reilly is shooting 48% (13-27) from deep and is hitting 87% (13-15) of his free throws, while also leading the team in assists.
Here are some more underclassmen that have opened some eyes this spring:
Taelon Martin, Mass Rivals – The 6’1” playmaker is always in attack mode, using an electric first step to blow by defenders and finish in the paint. Martin enters his sophomore season as one of the most explosive guards in the 2019 class and has a killer instinct that can’t be taught. He put together a string of phenomenal performances at the NERR HoopFest in May and Basketbull’s Summer Tip-Off this past weekend, resulting in offers from UMass and Quinnipiac.
Shemar Dennis & Malachi Hazelton, Mass Rivals – Dennis has already made an impact at the high school level while playing on St Peter-Marian’s varsity squad as an 8th grader. Once you get a glimpse at the 6’3” power wing it’s not hard to understand why. Built like a running back, Dennis is fearless going to the rim and also has the ability to grab a rebound and become a one man fastbreak. Hazelton seems to be growing before our eyes, both physically and skill-wise. Neither seems overwhelmed playing against older competition and genuinely seem to revel in the opportunity to attack players their senior. Dennis and Hazelton are two names we’ll be hearing a lot of over the next four years.
Ismael Massoud, PSA Cardinals – Massoud is a legitimate 6’7” point guard with good handle, phenomenal vision, and range on his jumper. Massoud will make his debut in New England this fall when he enrolls as a part of MacDuffie’s ’19 class after starting his prep career at Cardinal Hayes in New York City. Massoud will benefit from the physicality of the NEPSAC and only become more of a weapon as his frame continues to fill out. A high level student as well, Massoud already owns offers from Yale and Iona.
Check back in next week for our Summer Preview as we take a look at what’s in store over the next three months.