Boston High School: Crew Ainge

Elite 75: Bunting, Ainge, Nelson shine

July, 2, 2013
New England Recruiting Report founder and editor Adam Finkelstein hosted the 8th annual New England Elite 75 showcase on Monday at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The showcase, featuring New England’s top high school stars, schooled players on individual offensive drills and skill development and gave them an insight on what college coaches look for in a player.

The biggest stock-riser of the event may have been former Plymouth North forward Jesse Bunting, who will attend Tabor Academy and reclassify to the 2015 class this fall. Bunting, a heady big man who outplayed almost every other forward at the camp, has been playing AAU this summer with Expressions Elite. He received his first Division 1 offer this weekend from Holy Cross following the Crusaders’ elite camp.

"Yeah, that was pretty exciting hearing that all my work’s been paying off," Bunting said.

Several of his Expressions teammates, including top 100 recruits Abdul-Malik Abu (Kimball Union Academy) and Jared Terrell (Brewster Academy) also made late appearances. Abu, a physically-imposing 6-foot-8 forward, put down several skying dunks and dominated on the glass. Both are expected to cut down their lengthy college lists following the July live period.

Bunting said going up against the highly-touted Abu in practice has significantly helped his own development.

"Yeah, it definitely gets you prepared," Bunting said with a laugh. "In my workouts I’ve been trying to emphasize my shot and my dribbling, too. I need to work on my left-handed dribble."

Ainge carving his path

With his father, Boston Celtics’ President Danny Ainge, looking on, Crew Ainge stood out as one of the best point guards in the gym. Coming off a recovery from a wrist injury that resulted in the Kimball Union (N.H.) 2015 point guard becoming "out of shape" by his own admission, Ainge has begun to increase his physical training level.

Ainge works out regularly with trainers at the Celtics’ facility, with an emphasis on building his strength and improving his offensive skills. As a result, a slew of local Division 1 schools have expressed interest in Ainge this summer while playing for the New England Playaz AAU program. Originally thinking that as an incoming junior he would be playing for the Playaz’ 16U squad, expect Ainge to play a significant amount of minutes this July for the Playaz 17’s squad.

"There’s a little better competition. I was playing more than enough on the 17’s so I decided to stay there," he said.

His brother Cooper, who went to Brigham Young University as a recruited walk-on, is currently on his two-year Mormon mission in Chile. Crew says it is "most likely a big possibility" that he will also go on his Mormon mission before he begins his college hoops career.

Going forward with his recruitment, which is sure to expand during the July live period, Ainge says that his dad, for the most part, lets him handle his own recruiting.

"He actually kind of lets me handle most of it," Crew said. "He just tells me not to brag or boast about it—just to let it happen. Not to seek after coaches, just to let them come, if I keep working and getting better they’ll come, and not to even worry about it."

MIAA stars gearing up

Central Catholic Class of 2014 stars Tyler Nelson and Nick Cambio were both very impressive at Elite 75. Nelson was lights-out from beyond the three-point arc, while Cambio showed to be one of the best rebounders and interior defenders at the entire event.
Nelson -- who has picked up Division 1 offers this summer from Dartmouth, Jacksonville, Fairfield, George Washington, and Vermont -- will travel with Cambio and the rest of their BABC squad down to the Nike Peach Jam on July 11, where they'll try to win an 18th national championship for the revered club.

***Tyonne Malone, a 6-foot-3 forward who will be attending defending state champion Springfield Putnam this season, was also very impressive. A creative lefty who can score in a variety of ways and overpower perimeter defenders, Malone will be in instant-impact type of player as the Beavers will be playing for their second consecutive state championship.

***Makai Ashton-Langford, a rising sophomore at St. Peter-Marian who has been playing AAU this summer with Mass Rivals, showed well after picking up his first Division 1 offer this past weekend from the University of Rhode Island. Still only 14 years old, he has an understanding of the game that is far beyond his years. Expect him to play a significant amount of minutes for St. Peter-Marian this coming year.

***Ben Judson will be looked at to be "the guy" for St. John’s Prep this coming year, and the rising junior guard has shown that he should be up to the task. A lights-out left-handed shooter, Judson has significantly improved his scoring off the dribble and has added a lot of upper body strength, as the Prep looks forward to their first year under new head coach John Dullea.

BABC, NE Playaz clash in 41st Boston Shootout

June, 3, 2013
BOSTON -- The host Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC) and the New England Playaz met in the final of the 41st annual Boston Shootout on Sunday. Through scorching 90 degree conditions at Roxbury's Shelburne Community Center, BABC captured the championship, knocking off the Playaz 60-53 in an overtime thriller.

The two teams went blow-for-blow for nearly the entire first half before BABC’s three-quarter pressure began to help them pull away a bit. Bruce Brown (Vermont Academy '16), who finished with 17 points, knocked down a three-pointer to beat the first half buzzer, giving BABC a 30-23 lead going into the break.

After being down by as much as 13 early in the second half, the Playaz went on a 15-5 run to bring the deficit down to three with still over nine minutes left to play in the game. Crew Ainge (Kimball Union '15) fueled the Playaz comeback, making tough lay-ups around the rim, knocking down a couple of three-pointers, and creating for big men Marcel Pettway (Wilbraham & Monson '15) and Jarred Reuter (Brewster Academy '15) off of the pick-and-roll. Ainge drew rave reviews from Playaz coach Joe Dicruttalo after the game.

"Crew is just a constant energy guy," Dicruttalo said. "He’s always working, he’s always hustling. He’s that guy where you never have to question his effort. It’s good to have a guy like that out on the court. The first time I saw him was last year in Vegas; he’s not the same kid you see right now. It just goes to show how much times he’s put in off the court."

Dicruttalo made the decision at halftime to go to a pressure 1-3-1 zone, forcing BABC away from their precise offensive flow that often results in lay-ups or shots in the paint. By doing so, the Playaz were able to minimize the production of BABC’s super athletic guard Tyree Robinson (Notre Dame Prep ’15) and versatile forward Brendan Hill (Mansfield '15). The lack of space inside, in turn, forced BABC to shoot more outside jumpers via Tommy Mobley (Newton North '15) and Terrance Mann (Tilton '15). Mobley knocked down three treys while Mann had two of his own on his way to 10 points.

Defensive stalemate: Following a hard-fought game with few highlight-reel plays and plenty of scrappy defense, BABC coach Leo Papile praised the quality of the defensive play.

"A lot of people have the perception that AAU basketball is a bunch of guys running up and down dunking, it was far from that today," Papile said. "That was a really hard fought, down and dirty game. It’s smash-mouth basketball on both sides with clean, hard fouls."

Dicruttalo agreed.

"With a team like [BABC], if you’re giving them the passing angles, they’re going to pick you apart," he said. "So our biggest emphasis at halftime was that even though we were in a zone, we still needed to pressure them. Our biggest thing is we wanted more pressure out of the zone. Too many times people think that when you play zone, it’s time to take a break."

In the closing minute of the overtime period, Brown stepped up with the two biggest defensive plays of the game. The first, he stripped his defender on the wing and appeared to have a breakaway dunk until a late touch foul was called on him. After the officials discussed the play, BABC was given possession of the ball -- essentially cancelling out the questionable foul call on Brown.

Ainge, down 58-53 with 30 seconds left and a chance to make one last run, dribbled through BABC’s defense and pulled up for three from the right wing. Brown was there once again, blocking Ainge’s three attempt, retrieving the ball, and knocking down two free throws after being intentionally fouled.

"I call guys NFL bodies, and that’s what Bruce is, he has the body of an NFL cornerback," Papile said. "Those are the type of plays that he’s born genetically to make, with his length and stride."

An eye on the future: Two of the most promising young prospects in the game were BABC’s Terrell Brown (St. Andrew’s '16), a 6-foot-8 center who shows a ton of promise because of his shot-blocking and rebounding, and Playaz guard Tyree Weston, the former New Bedford guard who recently announced he will be heading to Cheshire Academy in the fall and repeating his sophomore year.

“I thought Terrell, for a 14 year-old, gave us some really good minutes in the first half -- especially in terms of his awareness [defensively]," Papile said. "For us, the defensive effort got us home."

Weston was critical in the Playaz' comeback later in the game, scoring eight points and hitting two 3-pointers in the second half. Brown got minutes in the first half, giving Papile an opportunity to rest Hill and Christian Wilkins (Suffield Academy '15). The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Wilkins -- a highly-touted football prospect already seeing a slew of Division 1 FBS interest -- gave Papile great minutes defensively on Pettway and Reuter.

"We’ve got a lot of football guys. I’m a big fan of that as a coach at this age-level," Papile said. "A lot of basketball guys say football ruins you, I love football guys. I love coaching them…the ability to think and the ability to execute -— which in football is a prerequisite. Down the end of the game, there’s no surprise we’ve got Brown, Hill, and Wilkins in the game - they’re all Division 1 football prospects as well. They’ll make plays."