#E75 Frosh/Soph – 2019 Guards
There wasn’t a positional group that had more depth at Saturday’s Elite 75 Frosh/Soph Showcase than the sophomore guards. Loaded with talent and versatility, they were full of already big names, impactful newcomers and others just on the verge of making their mark.
Taelon Martin was the top ranked guard in last year’s freshmen class and watching him on Saturday night, there was no wondering why. He has good size, a plus five wingspan and the athleticism to rise up and punish the rim. Combine that with the type of natural playmaking ability that can’t be taught and his talent was clearly on another level than most.
There might not have been a more productive freshman, relative to his level of competition, than Tabor Academy’s Noah Fernandes last year and he continued to impress here. He had speed and quickness alike, great control of the ball for a young player, a polished pull-up game and increasingly dangerous range from beyond the three-point arc.
Brycen Goodine is a new addition to the class after transferring into St. Andrew’s and he distinguishes himself with his athleticism and ability to get his head up on the rim. There weren’t any more effective guards in the open floor as he attacks with a head of steam and can rise up and flush it on an unsuspecting defender. With his jumper now making strides as well, his upside is significant.
Wilbraham & Monson’s Idan Tretout was among the most impressive newcomers in the field. A physical and versatile perimeter player, he showed that he was capable of playing multiple positions and scoring the ball in a variety of different ways. He’s well built, fearless going to the rim, able to hang in the air to make plays with body control and also drill shots from deep.
Two more newcomers, and likely the best backcourt tandem, were MacDuffie’s Ismael Massoud and Dalano Banton. Massoud himself was one of the most impressive players in the field as he showed his lethal combination of perimeter size, skill and budding athleticism. Banton wasn’t quite as impactful but nevertheless has a similar upside and may even have the potential to evolve into a big point guard given his truly unique abilities to handle and pass the ball at his size.
Here’s a look at other 2019 guards that impressed:
Noah Kamba, Dexter – There might not have been another point guard in the field who made a bigger statement than Kamba. He’s quick and shifty off the bounce with a tight handle. He shot the ball at a high rate, especially with his pull-up, all night long and was extremely dangerous in the open floor. To quote one coach – “he was arguably the most talented point guard I saw.”
Daniel Dade, Pope Francis – He’s a natural talent with the ball in his hands. He’s had his handle on a string and the ability to make high level plays and passes since he was a youngster. The southpaw also has a clean stroke to the arc and so there isn’t too much he can’t do with the ball in his hands. Now it’s a matter of having a consistently high impact absolutely every time out.
Joey Reilly, East Catholic – One year into his high school career and Reilly already has a state championship and division I offer to his name. He’s as skilled, smart and competitive as they come – or “a coach’s dream” according to one member of the event staff. He makes shots off the catch or the dribble, is extraordinarily disciplined defensively at a young age and has made rapid strides with his body in recent months.
Tanahj Pettway, Putnam Science – A proven and polished scorer who has a lot of weapons at his disposal and a long history of getting buckets, Pettway didn’t disappoint at the Elite 75. He did a little bit of everything – showing speed with the ball in the open floor, being shifty with it in tighter quarters, making shots from range and even being pesky on the defensive end.
Paul Durkee, Worcester Academy – His basketball I.Q. and willingness to “play the right way” stood out throughout the night. When he wasn’t knocking down shots from behind the arc he was setting screens away from the ball, back-cutting or making the extra pass. His veteran savvy and understanding of the game separate him among his peers.
Luis Mora, Redemption Christian – Another guy who just knew how to play, Mora was snapping passes off the dribble, handling the ball efficiently and showing arc and rotation on his stroke from downtown. He’s also become more of a playmaking threat off the dribble showing improved quickness and an ability to stop on a dime.
Aireus Raspberry, Cranston East – Rasperry is a hard-nosed lefty who brings a heady and physical presence to the lead guard spot. He handles the ball well, has a high IQ for the game and dictates his own pace. All of his natural talents are also magnified because he plays hard and competes, which further distinguished himself in this showcase setting.
Jimmy Yfantopulos, Brimmer & May – The southpaw speedster is now in his first season at Brimmer & May. The extra year should do him good too as it gives his body a chance to catch up with his skill set and instincts, both of which are top notch. He creates tempo, can stop on a dime for his pull-up, plays with a flair and even knows how to heat the ball up defensively, which stood out on Saturday night.
Robert Baum, St. Andrew’s – This guy is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. His handle is tight and he has definite shake to his game and ability to break defenders down off the bounce. He was a little buried on a deep Saints’ bench as a freshman but appears ready to take on a much bigger role as a sophomore and is going to be a name on the rise in the coming months.
Christian Beck, Tyngsboro – His reputation is that of a scorer on the AAU circuit and he’s certainly capable of putting points on the board with a solid first step and the shooting stroke to match from the perimeter. What was most impressive in this setting however was his ability to change speeds, see the floor and find his teammates for easy buckets, especially in transition.
Josh Menard, East Catholic – A pure point guard and self-made player, Menard is a pass first floor general who runs the show first and foremost. He is strong with the ball, pounding his dribble and snapping his passes, and brings a competitive edge with him on both ends of the floor. He's also said to be young for his grade and so he could be a potential late bloomer.
Xahn Frater, Berwick Academy – Frater is a southpaw scoring guard with good athleticism and an increasingly powerful body. He made hard straight line drives all night long and even showed some advanced footwork to create separation at the end of each drive. He also has a serviceable shooting stroke, especially with a rhythm dribble.
Connor Printz, Taft – He might be best known for his ability to make shots in bunches, but he showed off his full versatility at the Elite 75. With a livelier body that seems to be evolving athletically, he was able to attack the cup efficiently. He also made a number of impressive passes, especially in the open floor, and looked to be a big combo-guard in the making.
Joel Merrill, Pinkerton Academy – A previous unknown who came to the Elite 75 and walked away having made a name for himself, Merrill looks like one to watch in the Granite State. The lefty has a very smooth stroke, not just off the catch but also pulling up off the dribble and was one of the few players in the field who could create space with step-backs while maintaining his balance and rhythm.
Marc Dolgin, Milton Academy – Milton Academy may have the top ranked junior in New England but their sophomore class is loaded with talent and depth and Dolgin is the leader. Absolutely loaded with intangibles, he’s tough, competitive, smart and skilled and looks poised to have the pleasure of running the point for this program as they return to prominence in Class A.
Jake McElroy, Brooks – A skilled guard who shoots it equally well from long distance and off the dribble, McElroy can be reminscient of former NMH and Middlesex Magic guard (and current Penn sophomore) Jackson Donahue at times. He’s also a smart and heady guard who showed some speed going through the lane and playmaking ability north to south.
Charles Clemons, Notre Dame Fairfield – A smooth guard who can both create offense for himself and his teammates, Clemons distinguished himself at this event a year ago before going on to earn varsity time as just a freshman on one of the CIAC’s top teams. A year later and he’s taken his game to new levels and appears ready to take on a bigger role in his sophomore campaign.
Victor Rosario, Hamden – A three-point shooter who proved his ability to make big shots on the AAU circuit last spring and summer, Rosario is skilled and smart with the ball. He’s also highly competitive and when he can funnel those emotions in the proper direction, he’s a definite force to be reckoned with on the hardwood.
Cameron Wilkins, St. Andrew’s – He was another guy that put himself firmly on the radar with his performance. Wilkins is a quick and athletic guard who showed playmaking ability going to the rim but also knocked down open shots and made the extra pass. He was good in transition and made a couple of high level spin moves slicing through defenders en route to the rim.
Devrae Burns, CRU Academy – A repeat sophomore at the newly formed CRU Academy, Burns put up huge numbers a year ago at East Boston and is now looking to do the same in the prep ranks. He can really shoot the ball and has both a pretty release and deep range. He may be undersized but he’s got sneaky length in the open floor and a unique type of springy athleticism.
Enoch Cheeks, Mount Pleasant – One of the night’s breakout players, Cheeks is a lockdown defender who can force turnovers that lead to run-outs. Offensively, he has a tight handle and definite playmaking instinct. He’s also said to be young for his grade but was nonetheless able to hold his own against some of the region’s best.
Jayden Reaves, Millbrook – He put up big numbers in his freshman season at the Millbrook School and if his performance on Saturday night was any indication, he’s only going to become an increasing weapon as a sophomore. Reaves hit shots from all over the court, but was far from one dimensional. He got it done on the defensive end as well showing a hard-working and mature approach to the game.
Jay Reynolds, Pinkerton Academy – Part of a talented young core at Pinkerton, Reynolds showed off his athleticism in the open floor, shot-making from behind the arc and general scrappy approach to the game. He moves his feet in quick bursts defensively, can pressure the basketball and create offense from his defense.
Dan Klosk, Wilbraham & Monson - The WMA product opened the first session of games with back to back threes and kept his hot shooting up throughout the night. One coach referred to him as “an elite shooter with a high I.Q.” He’ll need to continue to speed up his release as he gets deeper into his perp career, but when he can set his feet it spells trouble for opposing defenders.
Evan Cook, Groton-Dunstable – Cook is a playmaker and pass first point guard with a fundamentally sound game. He distributed the ball effectively in transition as well as drive and kick action and even showed some individual offense with crafty drives and pro-hops inside the lane and the ability to make little runners with either hand.
Best of the Rest
• Jose Marquez, Redemption Christian – well-built guard who can power his way to the rim and mix in some open jumpers;
• Douglass Murrell Jr., Milton Academy – another talented Milton Academy product and budding floor general;
• Nick Muche, West Springfield – a tough and gritty guard who plays hard, defends multiple positions and does all the little things;
• Elton Wilkins, Taconic – started to put his name on the map with driving tools, a high motor, unselfishness and willingness to be vocal;
• Ethan Adams, Woodstock Academy – his toughness was his calling card and it allowed him to guard any position on the floor;
• Danny Yardemian, Belmont – a crafty backcourt prospect with signs of a developing pull-up game and defensive playmaking ability;
• Devin Morales, West Springfield – undersized but quick guard who lives in the lane and creates shots for others with regularity;
• Mikey West, Waterbury – a playmaking guard who stood out with his handle and in-between game alike;
• Stephon Baxter, Marianapolis – developing guard with versatile tools including a fluid stroke and solid first step;
• Osiah Lewis, Manchester Central – an athletic scorer who has a definite chance as he transitions from a wing into a true guard;
• Angel Roman, Paulo Freire – “sneaky good” with the handle and vision to blossom in the coming months and years;
• God West, City on the Hill – undersized but able to get under opposing defenders and into the lane and also shot it well from the perimeter;
• Manuel Roman, LaSalle Academy – had a strong handle and quick first step to set up teammates for several easy baskets;
• Eres Ekinci, Wilbraham & Monson – a big guard who was fundamentally sound, had a good feel for the game and just knew how to play;
• Samuel Adasis, Holy Name – athletic guard showed off quick handles, precision passing and good defensive athleticism.