Boston High School: Jordan Laguerre

MCI completes surprise AAA title run

March, 6, 2011
3/06/11
11:16
PM ET



BEVERLY, Mass. -- It is not often that Indiana State commit Khristian Smith gets to sign autographs. After Maine Central Institute’s Cinderella-esque run in the NEPSAC Class AAA tournament, however, Smith was smothered by kids of all ages to get his signature after a near-perfect 28 point performance against New Hampton.

“It was a great day for me. It feels real good to win it all,” said the overjoyed Smith. “Indiana State won their conference championship today, too, so we both had a great day.”

Smith had every right to be glowing after only missing five shots in his team’s 73-56 victory over New Hampton. MCI took over the game after the second half, when it went on a 14-4 run in first five minutes to seal the deal, extending a 35-30 halftime lead to 49-32. big man Raphael Maia nice and1 14:16, drop-step, miss drop step, got own rebound put back for and-one, 43-34

“I wanted them to get into the flow of the game and get their rhythm,” MCI head coach Dave Campbell said. “We wanted to play our tempo and we missed some easy shots to start off with. Defensively, we knew we had to pick it up defensively and push them out offensively because they are a very good shooting team.”

It looked as though it was New Hampton’s game to win, after Nick Paulos hit three 3-pointers in the first half. After an early 11-4 run by New Hampton, coach Campbell pulled his players aside and reminded them about their plan.

“[I told them] to trail their screens better, play harder, and push them out of their comfort zone," Campbell said.

Said Smith, “We were looking to keep their big men off of the boards and really contest their three-point shooters. Basically the same thing we did against Brewster."

After Paulos got cold, and Jordan Laguerre (16 points) and Zach Auguste struggled to stay on the floor with foul trouble in the second half, Smith saw his opportunity to take over. He hit pull-up jumper after pull-up jumper, and could not be stopped.

“I visualize [shots] before the game happens," Smith said. "It is something that I’ve worked on since I was little. Now it is easier for me. I’m quicker off of my first step so hitting pull-up jump shots is easier for me. I just need to work on the rest of my game now.”

But the win was not all about Smith. MCI also had nice contributions from sweet-shooting guards Daishon Knight (eight points) and Adrian Rodgers (15), while Campbell and Smith suggest that it was more than just individual performances that won them their championship.

“The one thing that this team had was very good chemistry,” Smith said. “When you have good chemistry and you have three or four months to get that chemistry together that tells you something about that kind of kid we had. My assistant and I both live in the dorm with them. We are with them 24/7. The kids all get along. They do things together all the time. I think that lends to the fact on how good you are going to be.”

“I’m proud of my team,” Smith said. “We came together as a real team. This isn’t just my MVP. I’m bringing it for everybody. I’m just happy to bring a championship back to MCI.”

The 3-1/2 hour car ride from Pittsfield to Endicott College might just have been worth it for the Huskies.

New Hampton knocks off STM in AAA semi's

March, 5, 2011
3/05/11
12:15
AM ET



BEVERLY, Mass. -- Nick Paulos came off a back screen, dribbled once and let it fly from a few steps inside the three-point line, at the top of the key. Then he pumped his fist, and let out a shout.

And then a few seconds later, after St. Thomas More's Adam Jones missed a potential game-tying three at the buzzer, Paulos exhaled. Amidst all the hype behind Brewster Academy's loaded starting five, and STM's prized 2012 center Andre Drummond, it's Paulos and his hot-handed New Hampton teammates that are punching their tickets to the NEPSAC Class AAA finals against an unheralded Maine Central Institute squad. New Hampton downed STM, 59-56, in the nightcap of tonight's Class AAA finals at Endicott College's Post Center.

The Huskies (21-11) will face MCI for the championship Sunday at 5 p.m., at the Post Center. The two teams split their regular-season series.

"I'm glad I could make it, and help us go to the the championship, you know," smiled Paulos, a UNC Greensboro-bound post-graduate who finished with 16 points (including four 3-pointers) and seven rebounds. "I'm pretty excited."

Paulos' winning shot came off an inbounds pass with 22.5 ticks left in regulation, the his team holding a 57-56 lead over the Chancellors (27-7), and just seven seconds left on the shot clock. St. Thomas More had two more chances at the other end, the first one an errant Damion Lee three-point attempt out of a timeout called with 13.9 seconds to go. Fairfield-bound senior Adam Jones pounced on the loose board, calling another timeout with 4.3 seconds to set up another try.

Out of that, Jones got a great look at the top of the key, pumped once and fired up a flat shot that clanked off the rim as time expired.

In this uncharacteristically low-scoring affair, the Huskies didn't allow a field goal in the last 2:11 to seal this.

"We just talked about guarding their stuff, which we've seen," head coach Peter Hutchins said of those final minutes. "We've played them twice now, [STM head coach] Jere [Quinn] does a great job...the last couple possessions, we were switching alot. When you have the lead like that, you're just trying not to give it away."

Meanwhile, the Huskies had to account for STM's 6-foot-10, 275-pound, Amare-like figure in the middle, No. 1 Class of 2012 recruit Drummond. The junior dominated the glass in the first half, with 12 of his game-high 15 rebounds, but struggled from the field by going 3 for 12. In the second half, he didn't register a point.

Credit Hutchins' game plan, which called for double-teams, sometimes triple-teams, in the post; and for the Huskies to deny a second touch for Drummond in a possession, forcing the hand of shooters like Lee, Jones, Roy Mabrey and Indiana Faithfull. Suffice it to say the Chancellors struggled from the perimeter, negating a relatively mistake-free evening.

"When you look at us statistically, we have two turnovers the first 30 minutes of the game," Quinn said. "And our third came within the last two minutes. Our team has always played everyone difficult and tough. Of our seven losses, five have been by three points or less. So on a day like today when we're not making shots, the kids competed. And that's all you can ask for."

Jordan Laguerre led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds for New Hampton, while Lee (16 points) and Jones (11) reached double-figures for the Chancellors.

Brewster takes down New Hampton to stay unbeaten

January, 9, 2011
1/09/11
12:11
AM ET
NEW HAMPTON, N.H. -- "Let's go son!" Mitch McGary yelled to his frontcourt-mate on the bench, beating his chest and extending his free hand for a high-five at the sideline.

The big man, Markus Kennedy, was happy to greet him with a slap as their teammate Elijah Carter went to the line for two free throws that would further cement Brewster Academy's forthcoming win over their hotly-contested rivals on the other side of Lake Winnipesaukee. They were just as happy to get out of this cramped, over-capacity gym with a win over New Hampton as much as the next kid in maroon and blue.

McGary had plenty more reason to be jubilant, though. The 6-foot-10 junior from Chesterton, Ind., provided pivotal spark off the bench -- especially when the 6-foot-9, Villanova-bound Kennedy got into foul trouble -- to total 16 points, and helped the Bobcats stay ahead of the Huskies and then hold off a furious comeback, to win going away 86-77.

"Mitch gave us great energy, great energy," said Brewster head coach Jason Smith, whose team improved to 13-0 and now 1-0 in the Evergreen League. "He's a consensus Top 50 player in the Class of 2012, he's got tremendous motor for somebody who's 6-10, plays physical, very athletic. He's gonna have his pick of schools. He's gonna be able to go wherever he would like."

Said senior point guard Naadir Tharpe of McGary, "He played great. You know, the first half Markus had a couple fouls and he wasn't playing so well, but Mitch came off the bench and helped us out alot."

Not to mention, the momentum coming away from the Smith gymnasium -- filled with nearly 1,000 fans in a gym that at first glance probably seats alot less -- goes without saying, too.

"The atmosphere was crazy," Kennedy said. "I love playing away. I've got to give New Hampton fans their props. They really brought their A-game."

Kennedy, facing up New Hampton's Zach Auguste (14 points, five rebounds), racked up his second foul with 9:54 left in the first of two 20-minute halves, and surprisingly without the girthy big man and with the wealth of long-range shooters for the Huskies (9-4), the game slowed down.

Smith admitted he "should have speeded it up a little bit, made them play faster", and for good reason -- the Bobcats, as shown in the possessions following Kennedy's benching, can put on a show in transition.

First, McGary came up with a steal on the perimeter and lobbed an outlet pass down court to Pitt-bound Durand Johnson, who was fouled hard and made one of two at the line. Then, Carter came up with a steal the next possession down and threw it deep to Tharpe, who flipped it behind his shoulders to McGary. The forward charged through the lane and laid a thunderous two-hand slam.

The game's YouTube-worthy gem, though, came at the 7:50 mark, when Carter fed St. John's-bound forward Jakarr Sampson with an alley-oop from halfcourt, making it 30-20.

"I just looked at my man Eli, I see his eyes, and I gave him the finger up," Sampson said of the play, grin growing wide. "He just tossed it, so I just went up and got it."

New Hampton battled back to trail 43-37 headed into the break, only to watch as Brewster scored the first eight points of the second half, and held the Huskies to just three field goals the first eight minutes. The Bobcats took their largest lead of the game, 63-46, off of a McGary block of Olivier Hanlon, with Tharpe pushing downcourt all the way to the blocks before kicking out to Max Hooper for a three-pointer from the left baseline.

In a recruiting climate where point guards are sometimes judged primarily on their scoring ability, Tharpe signed with Kansas for next fall after head coach Bill Self fell in love with his fluid method of distribution -- especially when it comes to pick-and-roll's. So while he once again didn't blow up the stat sheet (10 points, five assists), he controlled the tempo in the second half to big gains.

"Naadir is just a winner," Smith said. "The most important thing to him is for the team to get the win. He doesn't care if he scores two points, he knows that his job as a point guard is to distribute the ball, keep people happy, don't turn it over, keep his man in front of him. So, I think that's why he's going to a place like Kansas, because his basketball IQ is tremendous."

The Huskies mounted a comeback late behind hot shooting from UMass-bound Jordan Laguerre (20 points) and Joey Ptasinski (4 of 7 three-pointers), and point guard Carter Trent cut it to 77-72 with 1:48 to go with an NBA-range three from the left wing. But after a few turnover-filled possessions, Sampson (13 points) forced the Huskies into a fouling strategy after taking a reverse pivot from the baseline and sinking a floater, for a 79-72 advantage with 59 seconds left.

"I think we tried to spread the floor, and we have guys that can really shoot it," said New Hampton head coach Peter Hutchins, whose Huskies were 13 of 31 on three's (just three days after hitting 16 in a win over Vanier Prep). "Ideally, we're trying to get the ball in certain guys' hands, and hopefully we can get some open shots and make them."

JUST ANOTHER NIGHT

Teammates of the 6-foot-8 Sampson, currently No. 33 in ESPN's Class of 2011 rankings, say they're accustomed to these kinds of nights from him. Sampson's other big dunk came with eight minutes left in the game, when he got nearly his whole right arm above the rim and tomahawked home an errant shot in the lane from Tharpe, to make it 71-59.

Ho-hum?

"I mean, we go crazy for it, but we see it every game," Kennedy said. "He gives us something special every game, every day in practice he does something. We just go crazy for it, get our fans hyped too, but we expect that out of him."

According to Tharpe, getting dunks -- and dunked on -- is often routine at Brewster practices. Best dunk? Tharpe jokingly volunteered one of his own, a dunk on McGary, before explaining the one that 16-year-old sophomore Deonte Burton laid on Kennedy in a practice.

Burton, a 6-foot-5 Milwaukee native who played on the sub-varsity tonight but is considered one of the team's strongest players, put a move on Kennedy "pretty bad", Tharpe said. Allow him to explain: "He was coming from the left side, and he made a move on the dude, cocked (his left arm) back, and Markus shot back to jump at him, but it was already too late. Left hand. It was nasty, it was real bad."

Slew of prep schools impress in tourneys

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
2:23
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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.

National Prep Showcase: Day 2 Notes

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
2:07
PM ET
The big news on day two of the National Prep Showcase didn’t actually happen on the court. Instead, it was word that Notre Dame Prep’s Khem Birch, the second ranked junior in the nation, was foregoing his post-graduate year and had in fact signed a National Letter of Intent with Pittsburgh earlier this week.

Birch’s mother, Wendy Sparks, confirmed to ESPN that both she and Birch had signed the letter of intent on Wednesday, the last day of the early signing period.

“He’s a Panther,” Sparks said. “Khem is ecstatic and we are all so happy.”

Birch was literally on the floor, leading his Notre Dame Prep team to a hard fought victory over Westwind Prep from Arizona but had the opportunity to talk about his decision following the game.

“As the year went by my coaches told me I might have a chance to go to 2011 and I thought that was a good idea because it will help me to get better in college instead of staying in high school,” Birch said.

“I just felt really comfortable with all of the coaches and players at Pittsburgh and I wanted to get there as quickly as possible because I knew it would help me to become a better player.”

The move is significant on a number of different fronts as Birch’s reclassification takes him from the second ranked junior in the country to the ninth ranked senior according to the ESPNU rankings. His addition to Pittsburgh’s 2011 class propels them into the top fifteen in the country. Another consequence of the decision is that the state of Massachusetts has another candidate for this year’s McDonald’s All-American game as Birch should seemingly be a strong candidate.

On the court, the action was non-stop as a total of eight games were played throughout the day featuring some of the top post-graduate teams in the country.

Top 3 Performances

1. Andre Drummond, St. Thomas More
Coming off a disappointing 8 point 4 rebound effort on day one of the showcase, Drummond came out and made a statement on day two turning in 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocks. What was most impressive though was how much better he can still get once he learns to maximize his tools. His physical tool set is virtually unparalleled with incredible length, athleticism, and mobility. He runs the court like a deer and plays above the rim with effortless agility. Once he learns to polish his skill set with his back to the basket, both establishing position prior to the catch and then operating with the ball, his upside is virtually unlimited.

2. Kaleb Tarczewski & Alex Murphy, St. Mark’s
The junior tandem was phenomenal on Saturday night leading St. Mark’s to a big win over a much more experienced Lee Academy squad. Tarczewski dominated the paint, establishing position in front of the rim, finishing at a high rate, and being a defensive intimidator. Murphy stood out by proving his prowess on the glass, which is ironic since his rebounding is often considered to be among his most noticeable deficiencies. Not only did Murphy pull down a game high 17 rebounds but he did it while playing with the ball in his hands from the point for a significant portion of the game.

3. Jordan Laguerre, New Hampton
UMass bound guard Jordan Laguerre led his New Hampton team against arguably the nation’s best team in Hargrave Military Academy from Virginia. Laguerre put up 23 points on 10-18 shooting from the floor while adding six rebounds from the backcourt. The New Hampshire native has a tremendously quick first step and took advantage of New Hampton’s court spacing in order to attack the rim. Laguerre made good decisions while in first gear, varying his speeds, and finding his teammates when the defense rotated.

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