Boston High School: Alex Murphy

Alex Murphy reflects on Elite 24 in Venice Beach

August, 9, 2011
8/09/11
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As part of ESPN RISE's coverage leading up to the Boost Mobile Elite 24 even on August 27 on the famed outdoor courts of Venice Beach, Calif., basketball editor Jason Jordan catches up former St. Mark's star Alex Murphy, who played in the game last August and is entering his freshman season at Duke.

Murphy committed to the Blue Devils last February, and then transferred out of St. Mark's back to his hometown South Kingstown (R.I.) High following the Lions' season. Technically, this was his fourth year of high school; he repeated his freshman year at St. Mark's after transferring from The Prout School in Wakefield, R.I.

Considering where he's going, there probably aren't a whole lot of regrets for Murphy. But if there was one to top the list, it'd be Venice.

From Jordan:


“That’s just the best event,” said Murphy, a small forward. “It’s at Venice Beach, it’s crazy competitive and it’s just a lot of fun. I hate that I’m gonna have to watch like everyone else this year.”

He’ll tune in at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 (ESPNU) to watch 24 of the best high school players from around the country duke it out on the blacktops in SoCal.

“It’ll be way different watching as opposed to playing,” Murphy said. “But I’m happy with my decision to come to Duke a year early. I just felt like it wasn’t something I could pass up on.”

Murphy first learned he was eligible for the jump during last season, but tried to remain focused on helping St. Mark’s win. No easy feat, he says.

“It was almost impossible not to think about the fact that you can fulfill a dream a year earlier than you expected,” Murphy said. “I just talked it over with my family, and we all decided that leaving was the best decision for me.

"It’s definitely something that takes a long thought process because missing the Midnight Run at the Elite 24 is pretty tough.”

That’s because Murphy and the rest of the Elite 24 participants got a chance to square off against NBA stars like Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and DeMar DeRozan, which helped them gauge their skills.

“Just to have a chance to play against guys like that was big for all of us,” Murphy said. “Where else can you do that? It really gave us a lot of confidence to be out there on the court with them holding our own and on some plays getting the best of them. It set the tone for our seasons. Now I’m headed to college a year early.”


Rhode Island's Murphy signs with Duke

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
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Duke University announced yesterday that small forward and South Kingstown, R.I. native Alex Murphy has signed a National Letter of Intent with the Blue Devils for the fall of 2011.

Murphy, a 6-foot-8 forward who previously starred at St. Mark's, committed to the Blue Devils last February as a member of the Class of 2012. Last month, he re-classified to the Class of 2011 and transferred out of the Southborough campus, to his hometown South Kingstown High School, where he is expected to receive his high school diploma.

After his freshman year at the Prout School, Murphy transferred to St. Mark's and repeated his freshman year, making this his fourth year of high school. His situation is not unlike that last spring of former Charlestown star Shabazz Napier, who transferred and re-classified to Lawrence Academy after three seasons with the Townies, only to return to Charlestown for the final quarter in order to get his diploma and head to UConn.

St. Mark's Murphy to reclassify to 2011

April, 19, 2011
4/19/11
3:49
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ESPN's Adam Finkelstein has confirmed that Duke-bound St. Mark's forward Alex Murphy is re-classifying to the Class of 2011 and enrolling at Durham this fall, as opposed to next.

The 6-foot-8 Murphy, a Wakefield, R.I. native who repeated his freshman year at St. Mark's after transferring from the Prout (R.I.) School, committed to the Blue Devils last Feburary. But he never ruled out re-classifying back to the 2011 class, telling Finkelstein at the time of his commitment, "As of right now, I'm a member of the Class of 2012 and that's the way it's going to stay, at least until the high school season is over...Right now I just want to focus on helping this team. When the spring approaches I'll sit down with my family and discuss the 2011 option."

Today, he told Finkelstein, "It was a very difficult decision but in the end I just thought this was the best thing for my future. It's a great opportunity."

That's also brought a shakeup in the ESPNU rankings, where Murphy was the No. 15 overall player in the Class of 2012. Now as a member of 2011, he sits at No. 40 overall.

Read the full story here.

St. Mark's cruises past St. Andrew's in AA semi's

March, 4, 2011
3/04/11
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WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- St. Mark’s practically has a small army at its disposal, which is why it was able to jump out to an early lead in last night's NEPSAC Class AA semifinal and dominate St. Andrew’s School throughout the game, winning 67-47 at The Roxbury Latin School.

With the win over St. A's (23-9), the Lions (28-2) advance to the Class AA championship game on Sunday, 3 p.m. at Endicott College against Tilton. But the boys haven't been dominating recently.

“Our last two games were really tough,” said St. Mark’s coach Dave Lubick. He specifically referenced the double-overtime victory his squad stole from Northfield Mount Hermon 82-74 last Friday. “We were down six with 20 seconds left and coming back to win that game gave our guys the idea that, ‘You don’t quit.”

Tonight, St. Mark’s took a double digit lead midway through the first half but played like they were down by two the rest of the game. They were up by 16 at the end of the first half, and St. Andrew’s came in the second with a full court press, but St. Mark’s moved easily through and around it.

“We have pretty smart players,” added Lubick. “Nik Stauskas (15 points) and Alex Murphy (14 points, seven rebounds), they’re big guys who can handle the ball and actually see over people. We’re a pretty tough team to press.”

Once the ball made it over half court, you have one big and one...growing option. The leading scorer for the game was 6-foot-2 freshman guard Kevin Zabo, with 19 points and 10 assists.

“Lot of poise, good shot, pretty good for a freshman, huh?,” asked Lubick about Zabo.

Although Lubick admits that Zabo entered camp with the skills necessary to command a team, he has developed since coming to St. Mark’s this year.

“His decision-making has gotten better and better, like all young point guards who have a lot of skill,” said Lubick. “That kid’s got big time ability to change speeds and we like to run. We allow him to get the ball out of his hands, get it back and create plays. I was a little worried thinking he’d be nervous, but he wasn’t.”

The big option is 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, who was donning his white and red Beats by Dre headphones in the hallway outside of the team’s locker room.

To start the second half, Tarczewski (14 points, seven rebounds) threw down a couple of monster dunks that halted the momentum St. Andrew’s came out with.

“That’s what we talked about in the locker room,” Tarczewski said of Lubick commanding him to play simple and slam the ball through the hoop -- hard. “If you come out strong when they’re down, they’re going to quit.”

St. Andrew's coach Mike Hart is not one to quit, as he yelled at his team to run the set offensive plays throughout the match, but he ceded after the game that he didn’t expect much to improve, even if they did execute his game plan.

“I don’t think the outcome of the game would have changed because St. Mark’s is a good club,” Hart said. “We’ve been struggling this year getting other guys in double figures except for Michael Carter-Williams (17 points, seven rebounds, three steals). He had to force some stuff today, but our guys have got to move. We’ve been working on it, but there comes a time and a point where we need to get a shot off and if guys are standing around, you’re not going to win.”

St. Mark's makes thrilling comeback over NMH

February, 25, 2011
2/25/11
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SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. -- Alex Murphy was still trying to wrap his head around what happened moments earlier.

“Right now I’m trying to go through everything in my head and the events that lead up to that outcome, but I really can’t right now,” said the Duke commit and the No. 15. recruit in the Class of 2012, according to ESPN. “I just want to think about the win and how great of an environment it was. It was just a great win against a great team.”

The outcome? A double overtime, 82-74 St. Mark’s victory over Northfield-Mount Hermon. The events leading up to it? You had to see them to believe them.

With 22 seconds left in overtime Friday, NMH’s Armani Cotton drained two free throws to extend the Hoggers' lead over St. Mark’s to 64-58. Maybe it just wasn’t the Independent School League champion’s night. Murphy wouldn’t allow that.

He took the ensuing inbounds pass and charged up the floor, stopping at the three-point line. He let a shot go as the rest of the gym held its collective breath. And when they exhaled, it was a three-point game with 19.2 left.

All NMH (20-6) had to do was have a successful inbounds pass to send the Lions (25-2) into desperation foul mode. Joe Sharkey looked left, but everyone was covered. He looked back to the right, same thing: everyone was covered. Then he saw a teammate heading towards his offensive zone and launched a pass like a quarterback trying to convert a Hail Mary, but it was intercepted by St. Mark’s guard Jaymie Spears.

He passed the ball back into his offensive zone and Peter Kazickas was waiting in the corner for a spot-up three pointer. He missed, but Eric Green (14 points, five rebounds) elevated over opponents four inches taller than him to bat the ball out of the paint, to make sure his teammates had another shot to tie it.

There was Kevin Zabo, a freshman, taking a crucial shot in a game that may have been too big for some other freshmen. Zabo drained the three, tying the game at 64, sending it into another overtime.

“That was only the best basketball game that’s ever been played in this gym,” St. Mark’s head coach David Lubick said. “We were able to win because we were mentally tough, and that’s something that we talk about all the time.”

“There was a lot of good players on that floor today,” he added. “When it came time, we were tough. We talk every day about it’s one thing to be tough when you’re ahead, it’s another thing to be tough when you’re not ahead and your back is against the wall. We had guys make plays with extra effort and focus at a time when we were beaten. We were beaten, and our guys didn’t quit.”

For the first three minutes and 20 seconds of the first overtime, the Lions did not score a basket, only making one free throw. When it needed it the most, the team’s big time players made big time plays.

In the second overtime period, NMH was the team that had a hard time hitting shots. Halfway through the extra frame, it was down 71-66, but the St. Mark’s lead continued to grow to as much as nine before it finally ended 82-74.

Murphy had a quiet first half for the Lions, putting up only four points and five rebounds. He exploded in the second half, however, ending with 27 points and 10 rebounds.

In one sequence in the middle of the second half, the two teams were trading baskets and took turns taking over the lead until Alex scored three consecutive baskets and had a block and a steal, giving his team a six-point lead. He appeared to be in a totally different gear than he was in in the first half.

“I don’t think I was being assertive enough in the first half,” he said. “I was trying to get my teammates involved, which isn’t a bad thing. They made a push at the end of the first half and I knew for my team to be able to stay in the game and for us to win the game I was going to have to assert myself and do whatever I had to do to help my team win.”

Aaron Crosby, NMH’s Seton Hall-bound senior, came into the game averaging 22.1 points per game, but was noticeably absent for most, if not all of the second half. It is unknown if he injured himself in the game or if his ineffectiveness earned him a spot on the bench. He reentered the game towards the end of the second overtime, but could not help lead his team to victory. He ended with two points and one rebound.

One eye-popping statistic was the number of free throws each team had. As a team, St. Mark’s had 24 to NMH’s three in the first half alone. In the entire game, St. Mark’s went to the line 56 times while NMH only went to the line 21 times. While those numbers are staggering, it should be noted that the Lions converted 39, or almost 70 percent. NMH converted 18 of their attempts.

“They’re a very aggressive team,” said Lubick when asked about the difference. “I’m sure their coach is thinking they got home-jobbed, but our guys were tough.”

Kaleb Tarczewski, St. Mark’s 7-footer and No. 8 recruit in the Class of 2012, had nine points and nine rebounds, and fouled out with over a minute left in the first overtime.

St. Mark's Murphy commits to Duke

February, 7, 2011
2/07/11
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To no one's surprise, Alex Murphy of St. Mark's School has given a verbal commitment to Duke, ESPN.com senior basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep reported via Twitter this morning.

Murphy, a 6-8 small forward from South Kingstown, R.I., is ranked 15th overall in ESPNU 100 for the Class of 2012 and is ranked second overall by position. Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina and Florida (where his brother Erik plays) were among teams with interest in Murphy.

Hoophall: St. Mark's can't complete comeback

January, 16, 2011
1/16/11
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – After St. Mark’s 73-69 loss to Life Center Academy (N.J) Sunday at the Hoophall Classic, Lions head coach David Lubick emerged from the locker room with a rhetorical question: “Who wants to talk about defense?”

While St. Mark’s played better team defense in the second half against the Warriors, the Lions had to dig themselves out of deficits of six points at halftime and 13 points in the third quarter to get back in the game.

And although St. Mark’s made the final minute of the game entertaining, Lubick couldn’t help but feel his team was done in by their first-half performance by LaQuinton Ross, who scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, and put the Lions behind the 8-ball.

“It wasn’t about him [Ross], it was about the other guys,” Lubick said. “We thought if we could make them put the ball on the floor quicker they wouldn’t be able to operate and have the opportunity to get him the ball. We were trying to deny him the ball all game.”

The Lions (12-2) made their halftime adjustments in the second half, slowing Ross — the Ohio State signee — and the Warriors enough to climb back into the game in the fourth quarter.

St. Mark’s made their final charge with about three minutes remaining. Freshman guard Kevin Zabo (15 points) knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the game to get the Lions within one at 65-64. After a defensive stand on the other end, Nik Stauskas showed off his deft shooting touch with a trey to give St. Mark’s a 67-65 lead with 2:50 remaining. Stauskas led the Lions with 24 points.

However, Life Center reclaimed the lead with some clutch free throw shooting from Pitt signee John Johnson (14 points).

The Lions had a couple more opportunities to reclaim the lead within the final minute, but when those shots fell short, the Warriors escaped with the victory.

“When Nik [Stauskas] hit that three, I thought that was the game right there,” said St. Mark’s junior forward Alex Murphy, who was limited to a rather pedestrian nine points. “But things turned, they hit a couple big shots and knocked down some free throws.”

Murphy spent some of his afternoon tangling with Ross on the defensive end. Meanwhile, fellow 2012 ESPNU Super 60 recruit Kaleb Tarczewski showed off his shot-blocking prowess. The 7-foot center finished one block short of a triple-double while scoring 11 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.

“Basically, we believe that we’ve got to determine what happens in the defensive end because we believe we’re good enough to win most game we play in, offensively,” Lubick said. “We were in a position to win, but we shouldn’t have been in that position. We should have been closer, or even ahead after the first half.”

ODDS AND ENDS
  • Murphy, the No. 6 overall prospect in the Class of 2012 according to ESPNU, along with Tarczewski (No. 24 overall for 2012) are typically the objects of attention when they walk in the gym. They’re no strangers to playing in front of A-listers, such as Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who arrived during the first half of St. Mark’s game. After adding that he’s set no timeline to his own recruitment, which is comprised of a laundry list of top Division 1 programs, Murphy reflected on his brother Erik’s experience in the lead up to his decision to play at Florida. “It’s helped me a lot seeing him go through it,” the South Kingstown, R.I. native said, “sitting in the back seat going through the whole thing. Seeing what it’s like has definitely helped.”
  • The next hot recruit to come out of St. Mark’s could be Zabo. A shifty, 6-2 guard, Zabo showed a consistent stroke, hitting on 5 of 8 3-point attempts. “He’s a tremendous player and, as a freshman, he has unlimited potential,” Lubick said.

Stauskas, defense deliver for St. Mark's

January, 8, 2011
1/08/11
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MILTON, Mass. -- With the second half barely three minutes old Saturday, the St. Mark’s boys basketball team was once again finding itself. One of its best players was on the bench in foul trouble. The other was on the floor, but with more whistles against him than baskets.

“We were a little bit lost,” coach David Lubick said, “what to do offensively.”

Defense seemed to work just fine.

Essentially down their best offensive options, the Lions tightened up to hold Milton Academy to two field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half, providing more than enough time to pull away for a 68-58 victory.

Nik Stauskas finished with 18 points and six rebounds to carry the offense for stretches, and guard Kevin Zabo added 15 points. More importantly, St. Mark’s (8-0) flipped a switch defensively to limit the touches of Boston College-bound Dennis Clifford (eight points, seven rebounds) and leave Milton Academy (7-3) with few options inside the 3-point arc.

It turned a 3-point halftime deficit into a comfortable 10-point lead St. Mark’s held for the majority of the second frame.

“The first thing is just pressuring the ball,” said forward Alex Murphy. “At this level, if you pressure the ball, a lot of guys have trouble handling that. We just have guys who are willing to play defense, willing to play hard all the time.”

St. Mark’s is loaded with athleticism and size, best combined in the forms of 7-foot Kaleb Tarczewski and the 6-foot-8 Murphy. Tarczewski finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, but he sat for nearly a five-minute stretch in the second half. Murphy chipped in eight points, but two early offensive fouls had him scoreless by halftime and thereafter, his attention turned to guarding Clifford with Tarczewski out.

That left the offense largely in the hands of Stauskas, who was 6-for-6 from the free throw line and hit two 3-pointers. But it left the game leaning on the Lions’ defense.

“We’re still trying to find our way because we’re a young team,” Tarczewski said. “We haven’t played too much together. We have a lot to learn. We’re starting to figure out how to play offensively. Points really aren’t a problem for us. But we’re trying to play better on defense. I don’t know if you saw a few times, but the weak side help wasn’t there. We gotta be more aggressive sometimes.”

That wasn’t a problem Saturday. Milton hit two 3-pointers early in the second half, but managed little else after going basket for basket with St. Mark’s in the first. It cut the deficit to five with 5:44 to play, but Tarczewski answered with a lay-up and St. Mark’s scored eight of the game’s next 10 points.

“I think we became too satisfied with what happened in the first (half),” Clifford said. “I think we [ticked] them off enough for them to come back harder. We didn’t match that at the beginning of the second half.”

Clifford, however, did his part. Paired against Tarczewski in the game’s most interesting match-up, he consistently forced the 7-footer baseline and under the hoop for difficult shots. He also finished with four blocks, and has clearly become Milton’s emotional leader.

“I don’t think he was just holding his own,” Milton coach Lamar Reddicks said of Clifford. “It should be like that. I look at it as a battle of two good big guys. I don’t think either one got the better of the other. It was just a really good battle.”

ODDS AND ENDS


-- Like Clifford, Tarczewski and Murphy are Division-I bound, though their destinations haven’t been determined. Tarczewski remains the most raw, but has a enormous ceiling because of his fluidity for his size.

“He’s been focusing his intensity and realizing his greatest gift is his athleticism and ability to run down the floor,” Lubick said. “He really wasn’t a skilled player (before). He had trouble catching the ball and making moves last year. He can now catch the ball a little bit on the move.

“Most 7-foot kids, there’s some flaw there athletically. You can see it before they even start. But he’s got an incredible gift.”

Spending time this summer with former Celtics coach John Carroll has helped his offensive game immensely, Lubick said.

“It’s coming easier,” Tarczewski said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. I’ll take a step forward, then I’ll take a step back. I’m trying to improve my presence on the court. Today wasn’t an overly good game for me but everybody else stepped up.”

-- Lubick joked he wasn’t overly fond of Stauskas’ decision to drain a 3-pointer with the Lions up nine with under a minute to play. But he’s proven more than simply a complementary piece to his two star teammates.

“A nice release valve,” Lubick called him.

Slew of prep schools impress in tourneys

December, 22, 2010
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Holiday time is always an important time of year on the recruiting front, and for a couple of different reasons. First, there are numerous holiday tournaments and events going on right now that provide college coaches with the opportunity to see numerous teams in one day under the same roof. Second, with the first semester of the college calendar coming to a close there is a slight lull in the college basketball schedule because of final exams, meaning that coaches have a little more flexibility in their schedule.

Here is a look back at some of the more notable events that have taken place in the last two weeks:

Scholar Roundball Classic -– This first time event run by Hoop Mountain and the New England Recruiting Report kicked off the holiday schedule last weekend at Babson College. Not so much a tournament as it was a showcase, the event featured many of the top academic schools in the northeast including Phillips Academy of Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, Choate Rosemary Hall, Milton Academy, St. Mark’s, Northfield Mount Hermon, Hill School, and many others. Over 50 college coaches were in the stands throughout the weekend including 30 on Sunday. Some of the players to help their stock the most included: Demitry Coronell, Evan Cummins, Rene Castro, and Stefon Williams.

Bob Southall Tournament -– Held every year at Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut, the Southall tournament annually attracts a wide range of on-looking college basketball coaches. The Salisbury School ultimately prevailed, defeating a tough Wilbraham & Monson team in the final. Salisbury features Quinnipiac signee Zaid Hearst in the backcourt along with junior point guard Ryan Frazier, who already owns an offer from Bucknell (head coach Dave Paulsen was in the house to watch Frazier on Wednesday night). Post-graduate swingman Jon Seltzer drew a large following from the Northeast-10 throughout the weekend, while Salisbury’s underclassmen tandem of big men has coaches from the highest levels intrigued. Six-foot-eight freshman Chris McCullough has the length, athleticism, and mobility to be a prospect for the highest level while six-foot-six sophomore Samuel Dingba only recently arrived from Cameroon and has a tremendous upside of his own.

Mercer Invitational -– The New Hampton School made the trip to Pennsylvania for the annual Mercer Invitational held by the Hill School and came away with their second consecutive championship as close to 30 college coaches from the greater Philadelphia area looked on. New Hampton defeated the Berkshire School in the open round, blew out the host Hill in the semis, and then knocked off the Landon School to take home the championships. UMass signee Jordan Laguerre continued to show why he could be an impact recruit in the Atlantic 10, earning MVP honors after averaging just under 20 points per game throughout the field. Also standing out was unsigned post-graduate Travis Souza, who is a six-foot-five swingman with a terrific skill set, high basketball I.Q., and the academic resume for the highest levels of admission standards.

Paul “Frosty” Francis Invitational -– Trinity-Pawling came from New York to defeat the host school, Kingswood-Oxford (Conn.), in a dramatic final. T-P’s Morgan Lee hit a driving lay-up with four seconds left to give his team a 64-63 win in the tournament final. Lee scored 23 points in the game and came away with MVP honors while teammates Blair Roberts and Pape Konteye were named to the All-Tournament Team. K-O was led by their backcourt tandem of Tylon Smith Jr. and Mike Deffley who both averaged well over 20 points per game. The third place game was no less dramatic as six-foot-seven big man Daryl Best Jr. scored with 12 seconds left to give Hamden Hall an 80-79 win over St. Luke’s, while Darren Payen finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots to earn All-Tournament Team recognition.

St. Andrew’s Holiday Classic -– St. Andrew’s School hosted some of the top AA prep schools in all of New England for their recent holiday showcase. Joining the Saints were powerhouse programs like Tilton, St. Mark’s, Brimmer & May, Cushing Academy, Winchendon, Marianapolis, Lawrence Academy, Vermont Academy, Boston Trinity, and others. With all participating teams playing one game on Friday and another on Saturday no official champion was crowned, but a steady stream of college coaches came out to see the action. Among the players that impressed the most were: Martin Dixon-Green, Marco Banegas, Zach Chionuma, Alex Murphy, Kaleb Tarczewski, Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden, James Kennedy, Michael Carter-Williams, and Xavier Pollard.

St. Sebastian’s Holiday Basketball Tournament -– St. Sebastian’s put together one of their strongest fields in recent years for their 20th annual holiday basketball tournament. Milton Academy came away with the title after knocking off the Kent School in the final, 71-49, behind Boston College-bound big man Dennis Clifford, who came away with MVP honors. But it was far from a one-man show as Travis Sheldon scored a career high 23 points while Jesse Pagliuca added 21.

Huckins Rouse Invitational -– Brooks came away with the championship at this eight school tournament hosted by the Middlesex School, defeating Thayer Academy 53-45 in the championship game. Anthony Barry took home MVP honors after scoring 22 points in the final. Barry began the tournament with 17 points in an opening round victory over Nobles 57-30 and then followed that up with 16 points in a 58-37 win over King.

Adam Finkelstein is the founder and editor of the New England Recruiting Report and also covers recruiting in the northeast for ESPN's Scouts Inc. Adam has the rare distinction of having coached or scouted at the high school, NCAA, and NBA levels, having worked as a Division I assistant at the University of Hartford and spent three years under the NBA's director of scouting Marty Blake.

Canadian Raising at St. Mark's

December, 11, 2010
12/11/10
1:19
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WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Nik Stauskas' first year stateside, away from his native Southern Ontario, wasn't an easy transition. After impressing folks with his smooth jumper as a guard with the Grassroots Canada AAU squad over the summer of 2009, he took his talents to South Kent, the Connecticut prep school renowned for its basketball prowess and numerous alums in Division 1 programs.

And that's when the homesickness kicked in.

"Our school was in the middle of a forest," he said. "We didn't have anything around us. So I mean, I'm used to being around a city. I live near Toronto, so I'm not used to being in a forest, and you walk around at night and there's deer around you, all these animals. It wasn't something I was used to."

Stauskas had become familiar with St. Mark's head coach David Lubick that same summer, and reached out to him during the last school year, eventually taking a tour of the campus before enrolling over this past summer. This time around, playing alongside fellow 2012 stars Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski, he feels he is fitting in alot better. And at that, he's a major contributor, knocking down a team-high 23 points in last night's 77-47 win over Brimmer & May at day one of the Hoop Mountain Scholar Roundball Classic, at Babson College.

The 6-foot-6 Stauskas has drawn the eye of high-majors like Michigan, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Stanford for his textbook, feathery long-range shot. That was evident last night, as he nailed his first two three-point attempts from the wing; he was also able to cut through the lane off the dribble for layups at several points in the contest. But defense, always a primary point of emphasis with Lubick, remains an area of improvement.

"He's starting to learn," Lubick said of Stauskas (who, by the way, hates hockey). "It's absolute classic stuff, kid coming from Canada, just really didn't have alot of experience conditioning or playing defense. And he's getting it, I'm kinda hard on him sometimes but I'm really pleased with his development. He just was never pushed to do either one of those things before, and he's used to playing fast and loose."

And so while he's yet to reach his ceiling, Lubick notes, "You see all the good."

"He's got bounce, and he can shoot the ball and make good decisions. He's a basketball player, 100 percent basketball player," Lubick said. "He's a gym rat. He loves it, and he's learning a ton. You want your kids to be dedicated to the game, and he's unbelievably dedicated. Great player."

And who better to show him the ropes than Murphy, the No. 6 overall prospect in the Class of 2012 according to ESPNU. During the Lions' open gyms this fall, Lubick often paired him up against the athletic 6-foot-8 swingman, who himself threw down a vicious tomahawk in the last night's win. Injuries in the lineup have put those plans on hold for now, but Lubick says the Murphy-Stauskas matchups will continue to happen down the road.

Stauskas relishes in those battles with Murphy and Tarczewski -- "It's an amazing experience playing with those two guys," he says.

"When I go up against Alex, he's bigger than me. He's 6-8, 6-9, so he's got the reach and length on me," Stauskas said. "But he's just making me better. I'm making him better, he's making me better."

Preseason All-State Hoops squads

December, 8, 2010
12/08/10
6:50
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High school basketball season is finally upon us, and to kick things off, we're unveiling our All-State teams for both boys and girls basketball. Without further ado...

BOYS

ALL-MIAA

First Team
G – Joe Bramanti, Sr., Andover
F – Pat Connaughton, Sr., St. John’s Prep
F – Richard Rodgers, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
F – Jake Layman, Jr., King Philip
C – Jimmy Zenevitch, Sr., Central Catholic

Second Team
G – Victor Aytche, Sr., West Springfield
G – Steve Wynn, Jr., New Bedford
F – Samir McDaniels, Sr., New Mission
F – Akosa Maduegbanum, Jr., Charlestown
F – Noah Vonleh, Soph., Haverhill

Third Team
G – Zach Hurynowicz, Sr., Burlington
G – Jules Tavares, Sr., New Bedford
G – Jon Henault, Sr., St. Bernard’s
F – Shane Sims, Sr. Brockton
C – John Swords, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury

Mass. All-NEPSAC (post-grads excluded)

First Team
G – Rene Castro, Soph., Beaver Country Day
G – Marcus Grant, Sr., Lawrence Academy
F – Alex Murphy, Jr., St. Mark’s
C – Kaleb Tarczewski, Jr., St. Mark’s
C – Dennis Clifford, Sr., Milton Academy

Second Team
G – Jaylen Brantley, Soph., Wilbraham & Monson
G – Canaan Severin, Jr., Worcester Academy
F – Nik Stauskas, Jr., St. Mark’s
F – Andrew Chrabascz, Soph., Cushing Academy
F – Evan Cummins, Jr., Northfield-Mt. Hermon

GIRLS

First Team
G – Blake Dietrick, Sr., Wellesley
G – Kendall Burton, Sr., Newton South
G – Nicole Boudreau, Jr., Andover
G – Khadijah Ellison, Sr., Burke
F – Mariah Lesure, Sr., Amherst

Second Team
G – Natalie Gomez-Martinez, Sr., Andover
G – Briana Hunt, Sr., Newton North
F – Elizabeth Belanger, Jr., Acton-Boxborough
F – Leigha Tacey, Sr., Foxborough
F – Melissa Miller, Sr., Central Catholic

Third Team
G – Blake Underhill, Jr., Ashland
G – Gabie Polce, Sr., Central Catholic
G – Sophie Bikofsky, Sr., Newton South
F – Shannon Holt, Jr., Wachusett
F – Amanda Harrington, Sr., Sutton

Checking in with the Class of 2012

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
2:25
PM ET
Even with Khem Birch’s recent decision to reclassify to the class of 2011 and head to the University of Pittsburgh next fall, the class of 2012 is still one of the best groups to ever come out of New England. Here is a look at some of the marquee guys, their background, and current recruitment.

Andre Drummond, 6-11, C
Hometown:
Middletown, Conn.
School: St. Thomas More (Conn.)
Background: Drummond exploded onto the national scene at the 2009 AAU nationals when he was practically anointed the nation’s top ranked prospect by virtually every national media outlet. Prior to that he had spent two seasons at Capital Prep in Hartford before transferring to St. Thomas More where he is currently in his senior season but has already stated that he will return next year for a post-graduate year.
Recruitment: Drummond has always refused to discuss specific schools with the media but judging from those who have followed him both on the summer circuit as well as at St. Thomas More, he will seemingly have his choice of any school in the country. Obviously UConn is desperate to keep him close to home while Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, West Virginia, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Georgetown have given pursuit and UMass has emerged as a potential dark horse.

Alex Murphy, 6-9, F
Hometown:
Wakefield, R.I.
School: St. Mark’s
Background: Murphy grew up in the gym and was already a well known talent by the time he made his high school debut for the Prout School of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. After one year of dominating his peers he transferred to St. Mark’s and reclassified to the class of 2012. While Murphy has always been a highly regarded national prospect, it has been in the last eight months when he has shot up national rankings to his current spot as the number one small forward in the national class.
Recruitment: Murphy came out with a preliminary list in September that consisted of eleven schools and trimmed that list to seven early in November following St. Mark’s two open gym workouts for college coaches. Arizona, Boston College, Duke, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, and West Virginia remain in the hunt for his services with no timetable being in place as to when he might further trim the list or make his final decision.

Ricardo Ledo, 6-5, SG
Hometown: Providence, R.I.
School: South Kent (Conn.)
Background: It seems like ages ago when Ricardo Ledo took over the first half of the state championship game and led Bishop Hendricken to their sixth straight RIIL title in March of 2009. That would be Ledo’s final game in a Hendricken uniform as he would transfer to St. Andrew’s and reclassify to the class of 2012 following the year. He made another move after that season and is now four games into his career at the South Kent School. Along the way Ledo has established himself as a top 15 player in the country and one of the best pure scorer’s in the national class.
Recruitment: Internet reports had him trimming his list to seven earlier this fall, a point that he has since refuted. He is reportedly in the process of scheduling unofficial visits to both Louisville and Kentucky. The hometown Friars have already had him on campus while Texas, Syracuse, West Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, and UCLA are all heavily involved. Ledo has said that he hopes to play out his junior season and the upcoming summer before making any decisions.

Kaleb Tarczewski, 7-0, C
Hometown: Claremont, N.H.
School: St. Mark’s
Background: Tarczewski was a hidden gem early in his high school career as he flew totally under the radar until being discovered at the 2008 Hoop Mountain Big Man Camp. It was just about one year later, this time at Hoop Mountain’s Super Week II Camp, when Providence became the first high-major school to offer him a scholarship. Now, only two years after local New Hampshire sites had him listed outside the state’s top five prospects, Tarczewski is a consensus top 25 player in the country.
Recruitment: While Tarczewski has yet to come out with any type of official list, he said as recently as last weekend’s National Prep Showcase that such a list is on the way. What is well known is that he has recruitment from the highest levels of college basketball with Kansas and West Virginia typically considered to be among the favorites and a host of others including Boston College, Duke, Indiana, Arizona, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and others all heavily involved.

Best of the Rest from Massachusetts

Zach Auguste, 6-9, PF
Hometown: Marlborough, Mass.
School: New Hampton (N.H.)
Background: Auguste spent three seasons at Marlborough High School before transferring to New Hampton and reclassifying to 2012 to start the year.
Recruitment: The big man’s stock is rising rapidly right now as he has recent offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Boston College and appears on the cusp of a top 100 national ranking.

Evan Cummins, 6-8, PF
Hometown: Westborough, Mass.
School: Northfield-Mount Hermon
Background: Cummins did two years at his hometown Westborough High School before transferring to NMH and repeating his junior year.
Recruitment: He has gone from a low-major priority to high-major prospect in the last twelve months as he currently holds offers from Stanford, Notre Dame and Northwestern with Virginia also actively recruiting him.

Jake Layman, 6-7, F
Hometown: Wrentham, Mass.
School: King Philip Regional High School
Background: The only remaining MIAA product on the list, Layman is a true junior and one of the big winners of BABC’s AAU national championship this summer as his recruiting stock went soaring up during the week.
Recruitment: He holds an offer from Providence with a variety of other high-majors actively following his progress as he is really only starting to scratch the surface of how good he could become once he maximizes all of his tools and talent.

Adam Finkelstein is the founder and editor of the New England Recruiting Report, and also covers recruiting in the northeast for ESPN's Scouts Inc. Adam has the rare distinction of having coached or scouted at the high school, NCAA, and NBA levels, having worked as a Division I assistant at the University of Hartford and spent three years under the NBA's director of scouting Marty Blake.
The ninth annual National Prep Showcase took place this weekend in New Haven, Connecticut. The event featured 23 of the top prep school teams in the country and well over 100 division I prospects, including some of the nation’s highest-ranked players. By the time the weekend had come to an end, close to 200 college coaches had come through the doors to evaluate talent along with 30-plus members of the national and local media.

The three full days and 21 games of action provided insight on what to expect from the upcoming season as well as some intel on the world of college basketball recruiting.

Here are five lessons we came away having learned:

1. Khem Birch is a Panther…in 2011
The gym was abuzz on Saturday with news that Khem Birch had signed a National Letter of Intent with Pittsburgh, meaning that he was forgoing his intended post-graduate year at Notre Dame Prep and reclassifying from 2012 to 2011. The implications of the decision were widespread as Birch went from the second ranked player in 2012 to the ninth overall prospect in ESPNU’s Super 60, Pittsburgh’s recruiting class went from unranked to the 12th best in the country, and Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon solidified the highest ranked recruit he has ever landed. Birch was dominant with his performance on Friday and there is little doubt that he will be an instant impact type freshman next season in the Big East.

2. Brewster Academy has a chance to repeat
Brewster Academy was the consensus top prep school team in the country last year after scoring both the NEPSAC Class A title, as well as the National Prep Championship. And based on what we saw this weekend they have a very good chance of repeating. Head coach Jason Smith’s squad is loaded at every position and returns Naadir Tharpe, the Kansas-bound floor general who was at the helm of last year’s squad. That is really only the beginning as Brewster has two legitimate high-major big men inside with Markus Kennedy and Mitch McGeary, a pair of high athletic swingmen in Jakarr Sampson and Durand Johnson -- who are pledged to St. John’s and Pittsburgh, respectively -- a knockdown shooter in Max Hooper, and a scoring combo-guard in Elijah Carter. The squad was dominant both times they took the court this weekend, scoring blowout wins over Fishburne Military Academy as well as Princeton Day Academy.

3. New England is loaded in 2012
The local boys defended their home turf this weekend as all of the top players in New England’s class of 2012 played to rave reviews. St. Thomas More’s Andre Drummond, the top-ranked player in the country, was dominant on Saturday turning in a 22-point, 16-rebound, and six-block performance with his incredible physical talents inside. The St. Mark’s duo of Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski was no less impressive as Tarczewski established position inside and finished with power for 26 points and 12 rebounds. But it was Murphy who owned the glass as he pulled down a career high 17 boards while also handling most of the ball-handling responsibilities, creating for his teammates, and scoring 18 points of his own. Rhode Island native Ricardo Ledo was no less impressive on Friday night going for 30 points by showing his ability to create his own shot at virtually anytime. With all four players proving themselves against the highest levels of competition, it only reinforces that this junior class is among the best ever in New England.

4. High-Majors are desperate for big men and point guards
All six of the BCS conferences were represented by various coaches this week and almost all of them were looking for the same things -- big men and point guards. With 96 of the top 100 prospects in the ESPNU 100 having signed during the early signing period, high-major programs all around the country are starting to look for Plan B. The simple matter of fact is that there are more spots than there are suitable high-major prospects at those two crucial positions. The consequence will undoubtedly be a trickle down effect as high-major schools will settle for mid-major prospects, mid-majors will be forced to settle for low-major types, and so on.

5. Every game will be a battle in NEPSAC AAA
All eight members of the newly formed class AAA of the NEPSAC were in action this weekend. While Brewster was dominant, it was hard to establish much of a hierarchy after that. St. Thomas More, Northfield Mount Hermon, Bridgton Academy, Maine Central Institute, and South Kent all went 1-1 while New Hampton and Winchendon both suffered hard-fought losses to go 0-2. But even Winchendon and New Hampton proved plenty as the Green were arguably the grittiest team in the field and New Hampton will undoubtedly be dangerous once they get more experience with the team’s offensive strategies. Outside of Brewster’s supremacy, the only thing we can come away from this weekend having learned about the new league is that it will be as competitive as ever with virtually any team capable of knocking off anyone else on any night.

St. Mark's Murphy cuts list to seven

November, 1, 2010
11/01/10
12:22
PM ET
ESPN's Adam Finkelstein is reporting on his blog today that St. Mark's junior forward Alex Murphy has trimmed his list of schools to seven. Arizona, Boston College, Duke, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina and West Virginia have survived the short list, while Butler, Syracuse, Texas and Villanova are gone from the list.

Murphy, a South Kingstown, R.I. native and the younger brother of Florida sophomore forward Erik Murphy, is the top-ranked small forward in the country for the Class of 2012, according to ESPNU. He is the No. 7 overall player in the class.

For more recruiting news on the top New England prospects, be sure to check out Finkelstein's blog.

N.E. talent high on new ESPN rankings

September, 3, 2010
9/03/10
7:18
PM ET
Could New England be turning into a high school basketball hotbed?

ESPN released its new basketball rankings today, and some of the region's premier talent ranks highly on the list.

In the Class of 2011's ESPNU100, St. Andrew's (R.I.) shooting guard Michael Carter-Williams is ranked 18th overall. The Hamilton, Mass. native is committed to Syracuse. Meanwhile, Brewster Academy point guard and Worcester native Naadir Tharpe comes in at 66th; St. John's Prep two-sport star Pat Connaughton was one of the players who just missed the cut.

Four New Englanders are in the top 25 of the Class of 2012's ESPNU Super 60, including St. Thomas More's Andre Drummond at the top overall spot and Notre Dame Prep's Khem Birch at No. 2. St. Mark's stars Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarzcewski are ranked seventh and 24th, respectively.

Kuran Iverson of Northwest Catholic (Conn.) ranks No. 2 in the Class of 2013's ESPNU Terrific 25, with Tilton (N.H.)'s Nerlens Noel right behind him at No. 3. Brewster's Deonte Burton, a Milwaukee native, is also ranked No. 14 on the list.

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