The third annual "New England Elite 75 Showcase -- Frosh/Soph Edition" took place on Saturday at Boston University’s Case Gymnasium and included many of the top underclassman prospects the New England region has to offer. The event featured two sessions, with the freshmen taking the court in the morning and the sophomores in the afternoon.
Here is a look at five lessons we learned after taking in the day’s action:
1. Noah Vonleh is a Potential Star in the Making
Haverhill High School sophomore Noah Vonleh stood out as the most impressive prospect at the event. What sets him apart is a combination of three factors. First, he has the talent to dominant his peers right now. Second, he has demonstrated the work ethic to consistently improve his game. Third, his physical upside is tremendous. Vonleh only recently celebrated his 15th birthday and already stands 6-foot-7 with a strong body. He could still be growing and is certainly still growing into his body and consequently hasn’t nearly peaked athletically. He has terrific economy of motion, taking the ball off the defensive glass and going coast to coast in three or four dribbles and only requiring a single bounce to get to the rim in a half-court set, to go along with a rapidly developing skill set. If this young man continues to work hard and make good decisions, the sky could be the limit.
2. The Class of 2013 has Tremendous Depth
New England has some very well known talent in the class of 2013. Connecticut native Kuran Iverson is the second ranked player in the country and Everett native Nerlens Noel is third, according to ESPNU’s most recent Terrific 25 list. But beyond the obvious star power of Iverson, Noel, and Vonleh the region, and the state of Massachusetts specifically, has great depth in the class. Beaver Country Day guard Rene Castro already owns a scholarship offer from Boston College, Brimmer & May’s Jake Fay has one from UMass, and a variety of others in action on Friday had the potential to earn similar opportunities including Milton Academy’s Ikemefuna Ngwudo, Cushing Academy’s Andrew Chrabascz, Springfield Central’s Cornelius Tyson, and Weymouth’s Jared Terrell.
3. Getting to Know the Class of 2014
This was our first major opportunity to check out the incoming freshmen and there was plenty to like. Milton’s Jeremy Miller has the size and raw talent to potentially be a high level prospect down the road. Fellow big men Aaron Falzon (Newton North) and Bonzie Colson Jr. (St. Andrew’s) have similar upside. There are plenty of talented local guards including Lawrence Academy’s Johnnie Vassar, Cushing Academy’s Idris Taqqee and Stoughton’s Jonathan Joseph. The state of Connecticut also offers a particularly talented group with the likes of Jared Wilson-Frame, Levy Gillespie Jr., Winston Morgan and Kahari Beaufort.
4. Prep Talent Arriving Earlier than Ever
New England has always been the hub of prep school talent in the country, but it used to be that talented players only arrived for their post-graduate, or sometimes senior, seasons. Saturday’s event showed they are now coming much earlier and opting to play in the NEPSAC for multiple seasons. Some of the event’s top prospects, like Northfield Mount Hermon’s Dekeeba Battee, Worcester Academy’s Asur Madison, Winchendon’s Dennis Green and the Kent School’s Travis Berry are all from outside of the region but are boarding students at local prep schools.
5. One Year Can Make a Big Difference
There was a notable difference between the morning and the afternoon session as the sophomores delivered a significantly higher quality of play. The biggest difference was obviously physical as players were bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic given the extra year of physical maturity. But the other interesting trend was the higher caliber of basketball acumen. Some examples were more obvious as the sophomores tended to both share the ball more as well as play without it, but others were more subtle like looking into the post, using jab fakes or understanding how to defend from the weak side of the floor.