Prep Profile - South Kent
Class AA of the NEPSAC has a new contender this year as longtime AAA member South Kent has decided to move back a class.
South Kent may not have a roster full of future high-major prospects like they once did but they are nonetheless still committed to basketball in a very big way and, under the leadership of head coach Bill Barton, project to be immediate contenders within their new classification.
Barton returns his top two performers from last season in Malachi de Sousa and Anthony Nelson, who are committed to Albany and Seton Hall respectively. De Sousa’s junior year was really a coming out party for the New York native as he was productive from start to finish and as reliable a player as South Kent had on their entire roster.
Nelson was a little more up and down but took things to a new level during the EYBL season when he emerged as New York Lightning’s most consistent perimeter weapon and earned high-major offers in the process. There’s no denying he’s the most naturally talented player on the Cardinal’s roster and if he can embrace an everyday mentality, he has all the tools to be one of the best players in New England.
Unfortunately the Cardinals suffered an early setback this fall when they lost Jared Whitt to a season ending shoulder injury. Whitt had returned to school in great shape, looked to be playing the best basketball of his career, and was expected to hold down the starting center position.
The task of replacing Whitt in the middle of the line-up will fall on three New York natives. Victor Potter is a mobile and athletic hybrid style big man who can fly around the court and play with the type of high motor that Barton requires. Gabe Joseph-Bryan is a powerfully built player who once held D1 offers and needs to embrace an inside-out approach to return to that same level. Josh Galloway, also a post-graduate, is a southpaw and more conventional post-player who has a chance to play his way into scholarship opportunities with a strong season.
Perhaps the two most impressive newcomers have been Tim Johnson and Dante Coombs. Johnson, a 6-foot-3 combo-guard from Texas, should be a nice compliment next to Nelson with his ability to play on and off the ball while also excelling as a perimeter rebounder. Coombs is a well-built wing from Indiana with a soft shooting stroke and obvious talent.
Anthony Cooper, a quick playmaking guard, promises to be another important piece in the backcourt, especially if he realizes his potential on the defensive end. Additional perimeter depth will be provided by a group of post-graduates including Jaiver Jinwright, Pierce Boczar, and Michael Griggs. Jaiver Jinwright is more of a true point guard who likes to probe the defense with his dribble while Boczar provides a shot-maker off the ball. Griggs was out with injury the day we were in the gym but could be another scholarship candidate and key contributor.
Chris Scaife, who comes to Connecticut from Arkansas, is a combo-forward type who has all the physical tools necessary to flourish with a strong body and solid athleticism.
It’s a short list, although it is possible that Potter returns for his post-graduate season next year. Otherwise, the only non-2018 prospect on the roster is junior Dane Quest, a versatile 6-foot-6 forward who comes to South Kent from Toronto and has definite potential with his length, fluidity, and emerging tools. He’ll join Scaife to provide another wing forward type to balance out the rotation.
A Bill Barton coached team is going to play hard and they are going to compete. In a day and age where too many kids are coddled and told what they want to hear, that won’t be the case at South Kent. Players will be rewarded not for their potential, but their productivity.
That’s one reason why de Sousa was so successful last year and why he is expected to take on even more of a leadership role this season. His effort was as reliable as his production. Now, if Nelson can take on a similar mentality, you’ll see him take his game to totally unprecedented levels and if that happens South Kent will have a one-two punch that can compete with anyone in AA. The key then will be the newcomers, especially along the frontline, buying into complimentary roles in order to be as efficient and impactful as possible.
It’s a little bit of a new era for the South Kent program but with Barton’s leadership, a potentially dynamic one-two punch, and numerous post-graduates to add to the rotation they should definitely find themselves right in the hunt of things in Class AA.