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December 11, 2010 New England Hoop News Staff
Massachusetts should be extremely competitive again this year. It won't be easy, but we're going to take a stab at ranking the top teams in the state, regardless of Division.
Here goes -
1. St. John's Prep (Danvers) - Pat Connaguhton almost led his team to the state title game last year, before losing to eventual champion, Central Catholic. This was before he decided to bring his game onto the national scene this summer. He's proven to be a winner, ferocious competitor and is not someone we're willing to vote against. But, the good news for Connaughton is that he's not alone. He has proven help in Steve Haladyna and Connor Macomber, both juniors. It won't be an easy road for Prep though.
2. New Mission - This program continues to get stronger and stronger. It seems every year New Mission reloads and adds more talent. The thing that is most impressive about New Mission is that they can really defend. They have superior size, athleticism and strength at almost every position. They are led by 6'5 Kachi Nzerem, a big-time athlete that can really score; 6'4 Samir McDaniels, another explosive talent, and 6'6 sophomore Nate Anderson, who is beginning to really play into his potential. It will be a disappointment if New Mission doesn't capture the state title this year.
3. Newton North - Paul Connelly has a boat load of talent at North this year, and we think he has the pieces to put together an impressive run. Certainly the size is all their for the Tigers, as they will be anchored up front by 6'9 Macam Macam Bak and 6'7 Tevin Falzon. Additionally, Falzon's younger brother, freshman, Aaron Falzon has potential written all over him and stands 6'6. Defending and scoring in the paint should not be a problem for North. They have options, depth, and skill. The point position will be led by Michael Thorpe, who is solid running the team. Their weakness is at the wings, but hopefully guys like 6'2 Korey Mui can step up.
4. Central Catholic - Although they lost one of the top players in the programs history in Carson Desrosiers, CC looks to rebound/reload and make another run at the Division I title. It's nice to have a scholarship player to start with in Jimmy Zenevitch (Assumption), a 6'7 left-handed forward that is skilled, long and capable of making plays. Zenevitch has plenty of supporting options as well. Jacob Morales is a 6'0 senior do-it-all player for the team. Luis Puello is probably the best defender in the state and never takes a possession off, and 6'4 sophomore, Joel Barroa might be capable of putting up big numbers at times this year.
5. Cambridge Rindge and Latin - This is a young and inexperienced team, but a team oozing with potential if they can put it together. They will be led by the Taylor brothers, junior Maurice, a 6'2 wing, and freshman Jacquil, a 6'8 potential high-level prospect. They will play a lot of guys can Lance Dottin teams are usually always ready to play.
6. Brockton - Another team that seems to reload, Brockton will be a tough out this year and should bring home the Division I south title. They are led by the extremely athletic and talented Shane Sims, a 6'6 senior, and Jameel Moise, a 6'4 junior. Both are big-time leapers and athletes. The depth factor will provide the Boxers with multiple options. Sayvonn Houston, a 6'6 junior center and 5'9 Jaylen Blakely will provide additional scoring and firepower.
7. Andover - Joe Bramanti is another kid you just don't want to vote against. He wants to win, and is willing to do whatever it takes. Although he doesn't have a huge supporting cast, he does have a pair of forwards that can help. 6'4 Brian Miller is a senior that punishes people on the glass and outworks his opponents and 6'4 Sam Dowden is a sophomore that is improving at a rapid pace and provides toughness and skill down low. Apparently Miller is injured and we're unsure of his timetable. Regardless, Coach Dave Fazio always has a tough, gritty team that can knock anyone off.
8. Charlestown HS - The loss of sophomore Ramon Gibbons to St. Benedict's (NJ) really hurts Charlestown, but they have plenty of depth and one of the state's top players in Akosa Maduegbunam. Although young, they make up for the loss of Gibbons with juniors Rony Fernandez, Tyrese Hoxter, and sophomores Demitry Lewis, Douby Maduegbunam and Omar Orriols.
9. East Boston - Jeff Amazon can really play and has help in Walter Lewis and 6'0 Trevon Moore. Will be tough to upend New Mission, but they are capable of doing it.
10. Lawrence HS - A bit of a sleeper team, Lawrence always has talent. They had an outstanding summer campaign and look to senior guard Jaylen Alicea to make a run at the Merrimack Valley title and beyond.
11. Springfield Central - Western Mass will be tough to call this year, but Central looks to be the team to beat. They have arguably the most talent in Western Massachusetts, but it might take some time to piece this team together. Cornelius Tyson is a sophomore point guard that is steady hand, while 6'5 Kamari Robinson is getting better each time he steps on the court. They have steady role guy/defender in Chris Profet and good size in 6'6 Jeyvaughn McMillian. The key maybe the status of 6'1 Tyrell Spinger who transferred from New Leaderhsip. Spring is super athlete that is capable of scoring in bunches. Come February the Eagles could be clicking on all cylinders.
12. Westfield HS - Neck in neck with Springfield Central is Westfield High School. They have good size in 6'6 center Joe Meade and solid guard play in 6'1 Alex Gartska and Jordan Santiago. Gartska can shoot from deep and Santiago is a tough, physical point guard that can run a team.
13. Acton Boxborough - Sam Longwell and Wes Schroll can play and pair together as a solid guard tandem. Add developing big man Kevin LaFrancis to the mix and they might be a better than a Top 15 team.
14. Weymouth HS - Although they will be extremely young, they do have a great coach, and a star in the making in Jared Terrell. This sophomore doesn't ever realize how good he can be just yet. Will he be enough to make Weymouth a top team in the state?
15. New Bedford - Jules Tavares instantly makes them a threat. Will he stay eligible and be a leader during his senior campaign is the major question. Tavares is the best public school player outside of Connaughton so if his head is on straight, he'll lead New Bedford.
Others to keep a close eye on:
Knocking on the Door...
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