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'18-'19 NEPSAC AA PREVIEW: "THE SLEEPERS"

By THE HUSTLE, 11/30/18, 2:30AM EST

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After taking a look at the perceived favorites in AA a few days ago, it’s time to breakdown the sleepers heading into the ‘18-’19 NEPSAC season. It all starts with an with St. Andrew’s who will host this weekend’s Zero Gravity Prep Classic....

THE SLEEPERS 

Brycen Goodine committed to Syracuse prior to the start of his junior season at St. Andrew’s. Since making his college decision, Goodine has gone on to become New England’s premier wingman alongside Cole Swider and followed it up by proving that he was fully capable of being the premier offensive weapon against elite competition while averaging 18.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals for The BABC in the Nike EYBL. HC Mike Hart will depend on Goodine for similar, if not more, production in order to maximize his team’s potential….Goodine’s supporting cast features 6’4” wing Benson Lin and 6’9” big Keegan Records, who Hart believes is a surefire D1 prospect similar to current-USC-Upstate big man Kevin Zink....Lin, who recently committed to Manhattan, will give Hart the ability to play Goodine off the ball for stretches and operate in a similar role as he did last season. Lin is a highly regarded newcomer who comes equipped with a versatile skillset that instantly made him a welcomed commodity in Barrington….Matt Constant, a 6’2” PG/Wing, is a 2021 prospect to keep an eye on this year. Constant combines solid shake and shiftiness with a deadly jumper that is obviously the product of hundreds of man hours in the gym. Bryant offered Constant in the fall after watching him flash his fearless characteristics in an open gym….Robert Baum will have to walk the fine line between playing his role and trying to do too much, especially early in the season. Baum is a ballsy shot-maker who can also create off the bounce but gets in trouble when he over-penetrates and leaves his feet looking for an escape route….As long as Goodine is on this roster, St. Andrew’s will compete. 

 
I’ve got a feeling that Mike Mannix loves how his Wilbraham & Monson crew is being regarded heading into the season. And I know Idan Tretout is motivated by it. Tretout, a Harvard-pledge, has long been one of New England’s most underrated prospects as well as one of our most self-aware. The 6’3” PG/Wing, who was a big part of New Heights’ UA Association Championship squad this summer, is likely to play a lot more PG for W&M this season, since having the ball in his hands is likely to be Mannix’s most potent form of offense. Tretout is more than qualified for the job and should challenge Goodine, James Bouknight and Daniel Buie when it comes to individual game-highs in points and 3’s made….Pierry Joseph returns to Wilbraham looking to increase his individual prospect stock while playing a larger role on both sides of the ball. The 6’11” Haitian has some unique physical tools that could allow him to become a rim-protector and post presence offensively….Joseph will also have the luxury of developing as a weak side shot-blocker with John Adams improved ability to bang with opposing bigs in the post. The tough 6’8” big/wing has increased his range and really polished his footwork on the block....Liam Murphy, a 6’7” rifleman, has picked up a ton of steam over the last few months and combines with John Packard, David Fisher, Saxon Thompson, Dan Klosk and Kai Robinson to give W&M a handful of intriguing rotation pieces.

Proctor’s talented guard trio will give AA teams nightmares on a nightly basis this season. Led by Merrimack-bound point guard Mykel Derring, Terrell Brown and Bol Akot, their combination of long-distance shooting, off-the-dribble attacking and crafty play-making should equate to some sexy basketball this season....Derring, who will be a part of Merrimack’s transition to D1 ball, is an explosive scorer with the ability to efficiently score at all three levels....Brown was tremendous for clips during the summer and comes back to campus with the ability to take games over as well....Akot is an improved ball-handler after spending early parts of the summer facing teams that simply sat on his right-hand and forced him to drive left. The 6’2” PG/Wing is no equipped to handle a larger role and should continue to develop throughout the season....The trio will team up with Sheer Akot, who recently transferred in after spending last season at Saint James School in Maryland. The 6’8” Sudanese wing gives Proctor a bridge to the future while also providing rotation depth and a high-ceiling athlete to bring along. 

South Kent’s Bill Barton will play possum early in the year and claim that he doesn’t have as much talent as SKS is traditionally used to. What the sand-bagging veteran coach does have is a group that that recognizes their individual weaknesses and relies on one another to win games....Josh Reaves impressed during South Kent’s opener against Bridgton, scoring 14 points with 6 boards and 2 steals at the National Prep Showcase. He’s a solid D1 building block for Barton....Doug Alves is an experienced point guard with the ability to get hot in a hurry from the perimeter....Mekhi Gray is a 6’6” wing with an ever-improving skillset who looks to take on a bigger role against the best talent in the country in his first year in New England....Sean Bresnan and Nigel Haughton round out a crew that will enter every game looking to turn it into a street fight and impose their style on their opponents for 40 minutes.  

 

Masters HC Tobias Ceasar invested in a youth movement last season, something that should pay dividends in ‘18-’19. He returns a healthy and motivated Cairo McCrory who missed almost the entire season after suffering a fractured wrist during a preseason scrimmage. The 6’6” wing is one of New England’s best athletes but has also put a ton of work into his skillset, enabling him to make defenders pay regardless of how they attack him....Masters also returns a pair of reliable perimeter weapons in Harry Warnock and Ben Eke along with Quron Zene, one of the more experienced 2021 prospects in the NEPSAC....Warnock is a 6’5” wing with the ability to turn the tides in any particular game by getting hot from beyond the arch...Eke is a 4-year NEPSAC vet who has seen it all and experienced his fair share of success along the way. The John Hopkins-commit will once again take on a larger role offensively for Ceasar....Zene is a strong-bodied 6’5” wing who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the post. HIs development will be key if Masters is to make the AA playoffs this year....6’1” point guard Adrian Williams comes to Masters with an opportunity to run the point after a solid grassroots campaign with the Boston Bobcats. 

As he proved with his 34-point outburst in Kimball Union's opening night win, Enoch Cheeks is another prospect who is completely prepared to lead a team. The bouncy 6’4” PG/Wing is a versatile weapon on both sides of the ball and offers tremendous potential without skimping on current production. Mr. Cheeks’ athleticism is fully functional from an in-game, every-possession perspective and his skillset has improved to the point where there are very few weaknesses to exploit. He’ll be a major stock riser as we flip the calendar....HC Mike Olson will depend on Cheeks’ versatility and stamina to create the majority of KUA’s offense but Marc Dolgin, who experienced a ton of success with the Middlesex Magic during the grassroots season, and Will Engelhardt should help shoulder some of that load. 

Bradford Christian is in a similar boat with Gob Gabriel, a blossoming 6’8” wing whose jumper and play-making ability improved in the offseason thanks to DC Blue Devils coach TJ Thompson. Thompson put the ball in Gabriel’s hands from start-to-finish and allowed him to fail, putting the young man’s development over his team’s ultimate W-L record. As Gabriel became more sure-handed with his responsibilities, team success coincided and the Blue Devils became a dangerous outfit. Bradford is hoping for a similar trend....6’3” southpaw Joey Merrill will step into a bigger role as well, both as a play-maker and as a reliable perimeter option. Merrill owns one of the sweeter strokes in the region and doesn’t get sped up by the environment or game situation. 

Brimmer & May is in the process of reloading after losing all-time leading scorer AJ Reeves to graduation. While there isn’t a single player who can step in and instantly fill that void, HC Tom Nelson is extremely excited about a trio of young prospects who will now step into the spotlight. Gianni Thompson, Kyrell Luc and Jarrel Okorougo will each be relied upon to produce early and often, albeit in different roles....Supporting his young trio as they navigate their way through choppy NEPSAC waters could be a full-time job but Nelson welcomes the challenge and will have some help. Jordan Minor’s on-court development and his lead-by-example mentality is bound to rub off on the young bucks. Nelson is excited to watch that dynamic unfold and see the effect it has on Minor as well....Brimmer will have to rely on one another and adopt a team-first mentality in order to experience success early in the season. 

Lawrence will rely heavily on Brandon Wiercinski, as the only returning rotation member from last year’s squad. I haven’t seen their roster yet, couldn’t tell you another player on their team and wouldn’t dare attempt to insult you with a fake preview to wrap things up. But I will have eyes on them, along with the rest of the AA teams before long. 


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