SHARON, Mass. -- Last February, as most schools do, Stoughton High honored its seniors in a game against Hockomock rival Sharon High. But when the final buzzer sounded, it was a visiting freshman in his first start that had people buzzing.
Brian Mukasa, now a sophomore, limited Stoughton’s 1,000-point scorer Kris Joyce to just seven points in that contest, and the face of Sharon basketball for the near future was born.
The 5-foot-10 point guard is off to a great start in his first full season on the varsity squad, averaging 17.1 points a game, good for fourth overall in the Hockomock, behind the league's most prolific players: Stoughton's Aaron Calixte, Oliver Ames' Nick Bruha, and King Philip's Maryland-bound forward Jake Layman.
“The ball is in his hands constantly in the offense,” Sharon head coach Bruce Jackman said. “He’s basically fearless, which you really don’t find sometimes in a sophomore. He was under fire last year as a freshman. It’s not like he’s not used to being in that situation.”
The 3-6 Eagles have relied heavily on Mukasa on both sides of the ball this year. He scored a career-high 32 points earlier this season to rally Sharon past Falmouth.
“When I try to score, I really try to pick my spots carefully,” said Mukasa. “I try to see where the weakness in the defense is, see where I can attack [and] expose the defense for myself but also for my teammates as well.”
Mukasa said he trusts his mid-range game and his quickness allows him get to the basket. On top of that, Mukasa is shooting an impressive 40 percent from three-point range, which Mukasa said helps stretch the defense out.
But he isn’t just a scorer. Jackman said Mukasa was originally brought up last year because the varsity squad needed help defensively.
“He’s really taken it upon himself this season to be a defensive stopper, and he’s really tried to shut down all of the other teams’ best players,” senior captain Caleb Piltch-Loeb said. “He doesn’t just focus on offense, he works extremely hard on defense.”
In the offseason, the left-handed floor general plays for the New England Playaz AAU Club, which Calixte also plays for. After scrimmaging together in addition to playing each other twice a year as Hockomock rivals, Calixte has seen Mukasa mature in the past 18 months.
“He has a great understanding of the game,” Calixte said. “He creates opportunities for himself and is a great competitor.”
The Hockomock is full of top players at the guard position, including Calixte, Bruha, Stoughton’s Marcus Middleton, Attleboro’s J.J. Jolaoso, and Franklin’s Sam Bohmiller. Mukasa is hoping his all-around game will help him stand apart.
“There are guards who can score or get their teammates involved or defend at an exceptionally high level,” said the 15-year-old guard. “I’ve really focused on having a well rounded game so there’s no one weakness teams can take advantage of.”
Sharon has had an up-and-down season so far and is in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season. However, Mukasa’s maturity shows, as his confidence remains high and he tries to learn from each game.
“We try to be even-keeled around here,” said Mukasa. “We’ve lost a couple tough games, but we know we have to be ready for the next game.”
The good news for the Eagles is that they are a young team. Mukasa has played well with fellow guards and sophomores James Fritzon and Ade Bright this season. Beyond them, there are five other juniors who still have another year to prove themselves.
“We’re a very young team,” Jackman added. “I think with Brian’s leadership, along with a couple other sophomores who are plying right now, I think it bodes well for us. We’re just going to get better and better and Brian is going to be the leader of that group.”
With time, Mukasa’s skills will only continue to evolve and aid Sharon’s mission to get back to the top of the Hockomock.