Boston High School: Nik Stauskas

Finkelstein's top NEPSAC tourney performers

March, 5, 2012
ESPN's Adam Finkelstein recaps the top performances from the NEPSAC Boys Basketball Tournament's Class A, AA, and AAA Finals, last weekend at Endicott College.

You can view the entire entry here on ESPN's Basketball Recruiting Section. Here's the highlights:

Standout prospects
Nik Stauskas (Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark’s)
2012, SF, 6-6, 205
College: Michigan
Stauskas finished with 19 points but his impact on the game far exceeded that total, as he not only scored the ball in different ways but also facilitated for others in both pick and roll as well as drive-and-kick action. While the complete versatility of Stauskas’ offensive repertoire was on full display, the most impressive part of his performance was that innate star quality that allowed him to make big play after big play at the most pivotal moments of the game.

Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton)
2012, C, 6-10, 215
Noel’s biggest contributions once again came on the defensive end, where he not only anchored the team with his shot-blocking presence but also showed his ability to defend a dominant low-post player as he utilized his quickness and agility to prevent Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Mark’s) from being able to establish any type of seals on the low post. Offensively, his 10 points included one incredible alley-oop finish which he caught literally above the box, in addition to a number of high-level passes.

Chris McCullough (New York, N.Y./Salisbury)
2014, PF, 6-9, 210
McCullough scored a game-high 26 points in the class A final, continuing to show his potentially lethal combination of length, athleticism and skill. McCullough brought good energy throughout the game, running the floor and being active on the offensive glass, while continuing to show a consistently expanding offensive repertoire. He was a consistent threat at the 3-point line, turned the corner in big-to-big ball screen action, and then iced the game with great poise at the free throw line.

Surprise performer
Spike Albrecht (Crown Point, Ind./Northfield Mount Hermon)
2012, PG, 6-1, 180
Albrecht showed great resiliency and endurance, playing all 40 minutes of an incredibly hard fought AAA final and serving as the team’s primary ballhandler from start to finish. He was at his best down the stretch, knocking down a deep 3-pointer and two clutch free throws in the game’s final 30 seconds. Albrecht is a cerebral point guard who is super crafty inside and is especially adept at keeping his dribble.

Keep an eye on
Rodney Sanders (Linden, N.J./St. Thomas More)
2012, SG, 6-4, 185
Sanders' Division I stock has consistently grown over the last couple of months and it got another boost on Sunday. The big southpaw guard showed an ability to make shots in bunches from behind the 3-point line, which provides only added value for a utility guard who can impact the game by defending multiple perimeter positions, playing with a very high motor and showing general versatility on the offensive end.

NEPSAC Boys Basketball Finals results

March, 4, 2012
Class AAA
Northfield-Mt. Hermon 74, St. Thomas More (Conn.) 60
MVP: Spike Albrecht, NMH

Class AA
St. Mark's 59, Tilton (N.H.) 53
MVP: Nik Stauskas, St. Mark's

Class A
Salisbury (Conn.) 72, Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.) 60
MVP: Ryan Frazier, Salisbury

Class B
Beaver Country Day 60, Rivers 56
MVP: Jeff Spellman, Beaver Country Day

Class C
Hyde (Conn.) 64, Hebron Academy (Maine) 53

Class D
Hoosac School (N.Y.) 64, MacDuffie 57

NEPSAC: St. Mark's 59, Tilton (N.H.) 53

March, 4, 2012
BEVERLY, Mass. -- Nik Stauskas wrapped his arms around Eli Lubick, as his St. Mark's teammate approached the free throw line to shoot the game-clinching free throws.

It was poetic in a way: the son of St. Mark’s coach David Lubick had the opportunity to put an exclamation point on the season and secure the NEPSAC Class AA Championship that had eluded this senior class the last two seasons.

His older brother Nate, now a starting forward at Georgetown, watched in the right corner, hoping his brother would have the opportunity to feel the championship feeling he had when he won the same title at St. Mark’s years ago.

Eli hit them both. The clock hit zero, and the whole team rejoiced at center court, celebrating the Lions’ 59-53 victory over the Tilton Rams. It was an unknown feeling for Tilton, which had previously won four straight NEPSAC championships -- three straight Class B titles from 2008-10, and last year's Class AA title against these same Lions.

“This is so crazy for us, because after last year’s loss to them, for like, a year exactly to this day, we’ve been thinking about this rematch against Tilton,” said Stauskas, who finished with 19 points and has signed with Michigan for next season. “There’s no better feeling in the world than just working hard and achieving your goals.”

St. Mark’s (26-1) jumped out to an early lead behind the shooting of players like Jaymie Spears (eight points, four steals), Aaron Falzon (eight points, five rebounds), and Lubick (12 points).

While Stauskas and Arizona-bound 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski get their share of publicity, and rightfully so, it was the contributions of the players around them that allowed them to end their high school careers on such a high note.

“Those are all big-time players,” said Stauskas. “A guy like Jaymie has been working so hard this year and really stepped up big for us today. Eric Green (four points, five rebounds) stepped up big, Aaron is only a freshman so he’s definitely going to have some big years ahead of him.”

As the crowd thinned outside the Endicott College gymnasium, players trickled out of the locker room and into the lobby to board their respective buses back to their campuses. The Tilton (27-5) players were gone just moments after Lubick entered the St. Mark’s locker room.

Months from now, the St. Mark’s starting five will be at different colleges around the country beginning a new chapter in their lives. Who knows where their basketball careers will take them. No matter, they will always be able to look back and know they went out a champion.

Neutralizing Nerlens: St. Mark’s accomplished what so many teams want to do when playing Tilton: keeping the ball away from Nerlens Noel on offense. The nation's No. 1 overall senior can single-handedly change a game with his defense. St. Mark’s has it’s own big man in Kaleb Tarczewski, the No. 5 overall player in the Class of 2012.

When looking at the scorebook and seeing Tarczewski’s eight points and nine rebounds, one can think it was because Noel neutralized him. It had more to do with Lubick’s decision to play his offense out on the perimeter.

The team took advantage, hitting 10 three-pointers. Twelve of Stauskas’ 19 points came from behind the 3-point line.

“We know Nerlens and Goodluck (Okonoboh) are big-time shot blockers,” he said. “Our main goal today was to get a lot of drive-and-kicks for threes. We have a lot of guys that can shoot the ball. Our real key was to get into the key as far as we could and kick it right back out for open three’s.”

Noel’s shot-blocking is so feared that in one possession in the first half, Eric Green caught an outlet pass and saw Noel separating him from the basket. Rather than going at the 6-foot-11 center and risk getting his shot blocked, Green circled back to the perimeter and waited for his teammates to set up the offense.

“We wanted to not challenge them at their strength, which is the rim,” said David Lubick. “We thought if Kaleb could challenge Nerlens and get into his body and get him into foul trouble, that’s great. He used a couple of nice up-fakes and stuff like that, but we didn’t want the rest of our guys attacking the basket. Even an athletic guy like Eric Green or Nik Stauskas who can attack the basket, we didn’t want them to do it because we were afraid we’d get our shots blocked, then they’d go off to the races the other way.”

“Our focus was on making plays on the perimeter and getting into the paint in order to find somebody,” he added. “Consequently, they had to take Goodluck out of the game and adjust to us. If we had gotten behind, they wouldn’t have had to do that. Our guys doing what the gameplan dictated allowed us to dictate the terms on personnel.”

Loss of Selden hurt: Tilton appeared to struggle at times without its starting point guard Wayne Selden. The Boston resident and one of the nation's top sophomore players in the country, has been sidelined for weeks with an ankle injury. He had no choice but to watch the game from the bench in street clothes holding crutches.

“Him playing definitely makes a big difference for them,” said Stauskas. “We wish he could have played because it’s obviously not the same without him, but injuries happen. You just have to deal with them, so it is what it is. He’s probably one of the guys that creates most off the dribble for them, so he’s definitely a huge difference-maker.

"Georges Niang played a huge game for them (19 points, six rebounds) so he definitely stepped up. Everyone else was doing their normal job. They’re a heck of a team, so we feel blessed just to beat them.”

Warm surprise: Lubick received a nice surprise just moments before tipoff. As he was standing on the sideline during team warmups, he turned around and was noticeably taken aback when he saw his son Nate, a sophomore at Georgetown, standing their to greet him.

He was not expecting him to be there, since he had played against Marquette the previous night, but he flew up to surprise his dad and cheer him on during the important game.

“That was a huge surprise for me,” he said. “I was a little steamed and perturbed that my wife didn’t show up early and on time. I was thinking, ‘Where is she?’ We’ve been through this together for a long time, and then I figured out why she was late: she was picking up Nate. It was great, just unbelievable.”

ESPNU 100 rankings updated

January, 24, 2012
ESPN's basketball recruiting section has updated the ESPNU 100 rankings for the Class of 2012 today, and there is some significant shakeup involving local players.

Most significant of them all might be Brewster Academy (N.H.) big man Mitch McGary, who fell from No. 2 overall in the country down to No. 21. The Chesterton, Ind. native signed with Michigan last November.

ESPN's Dave Telep explains the drop:

Michigan signee Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy (N.H.)) dipped from No. 2 to No. 21 overall. Why? When a player is ranked that high, it's entirely up to him to stay there. Our vision with his ranking is to reset expectations so that they are reasonable once he arrives at Michigan. We loved his energy and motor in the past, but it's up to McGary to find his comfort zone and return to the level he played at last spring.

In other movement, St. Mark's big man Kaleb Tarczewski cracks the top five, moving up to No. 4, while Notre Dame Prep's New Zealand-bred big man Steven Adams enters the list at No. 5 overall after making his American debut two weekends ago.

New London (Conn.) point guard and Providence signee Kris Dunn moves up to No. 23 overall, six spots better than his previous ranking.

King Philip's Maryland-bound star Jake Layman falls eight spots to No. 61, while Tilton (N.H.) big man and Iowa State signee Georges Niang makes the biggest leap, up 15 spots to No. 68.

St. Mark's Canadian import Nik Stauskas rounds out the locals at No. 78, up five spots.

You can view the entire list here. The locals on the list are copied below:

4. Kaleb Tarczewski, 7-0 C, Claremont, N.H./St. Mark's (Mass.)
5. Steven Adams, 6-10 PF, New Zealand/Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)
18. Ricardo Ledo, 6-6 SG, Providence, R.I./South Kent (Conn.)
21. Mitch McGary, 6-10 PF, Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy (N.H.)
23. Kris Dunn, 6-3 PG, New London, Conn./New London HS
28. T.J. Warren, 6-7 SF, Durham, N.C./Brewster Academy (N.H.)
61. Jake Layman, 6-8 SF, Wrentham, Mass./King Philip HS
68. Georges Niang, 6-7 PF, Methuen, Mass./Tilton (N.H.)
78. Nik Stauskas, 6-6 SF, Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark's (Mass.)

Local McDonald's All-American Nominees

January, 18, 2012
Nominees for the McDonald's All-American Game were announced this morning. The Final Teams announcement for the prestigious high school basketball all-star game will be announced on Feb. 9 at 5 p.m., on ESPNU.

The boys and girls games will take place on March 28 at the United Center in Chicago, with the girls game at 7 p.m. and broadcast on ESPNU. The boys game will take place immediately after, at 9:30, and will be on ESPN.

One interesting omission to note is Andover senior guard Nicole Boudreau, a Boston College signee who is the state's defending Gatorade Player of the Year and ESPN Boston Miss Basketball. Boudreau has also been ranked in the ESPNU 100 for the Class of 2012.

Below are the nominees from the New England states:

Lexi Sells, Bishop Feehan
Jake Layman, King Philip
Ricardo Ledo, Notre Dame Prep
Kaleb Tarczewski, St. Mark's
Nik Stauskas, St. Mark's

Kris Dunn, New London
Ben Freeland, Suffied Academy
Timajh Parker-Rivera, St. Joseph
Erik Sanders, Suffield Academy
Mike Tobey, Hotchkiss
Bria Holmes, Hillhouse

Zach Auguste, New Hampton
Mitch McGary, Brewster Academy
T.J. Warren, Brewster Academy
Georges Niang, Tilton

Amber Holgate, St. Andrew's
Thomas Garrick, St. Andrew's
Cedric Kuakumensah, St. Andrew's
Kalusha Ndoubme Ngollo, St. Andrew's
Tyler Sabino, St. Andrew's
Austin Van Bemmelin, North Providence
Rob Hazard, North Providence

Darrick Wood, Bridgton Academy

Chad Copeland, Twinfield Union
Jaskin Melendez, Mount St. Joseph
Avery Whitcomb, Twinfield Union
Sara Illingworth, Hartford
Alexandra Jones, Poultney

Video: St. Mark's stars talk Hoophall

January, 15, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- St. Mark's stars Nik Stauskas and Kaleb Tarczewski spoke with ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall following the Lions' 67-57 win over Friends Central (Pa.) at the Hoophall Classic.

Impressive weeks by Dunn, Layman, Stauskas

January, 5, 2012
Each week, ESPN's basketball recruiting section checks in with players listed on its ESPNU 100 (Class of 2012), Super 60 (2013) and Terrific 25 (2014) and charts the top performances.

Today, several locals from the ESPNU 100 are highlighted among the top performances from around the country -- New London (Conn.) point guard Kris Dunn, King Philip forward Jake Layman, and St. Mark's shooting guard Nik Stauskas.

No. 29 Kris Dunn, PG
Dunn finished with 27 points in New London’s 57-52 loss to St. Joseph on Wednesday. He recorded a triple-double on Friday, finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in New London’s 88-66 win over Weaver.

No. 53 Jake Layman, SF
The Maryland recruit went for 18 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in King Philip’s 67-37 rout of Nashoba on Thursday. Layman had a triple-double on Tuesday, finishing with 33 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks in a win over Avon.

No. 83 Nik Stauskas, SF
In two games at the Invitational, Stauskas had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists on Thursday and 28 points on Friday.

You can check out the full list of top performances by clicking here.

Stauskas, Papale named top 3-pt. shooters

November, 3, 2011
ESPN's basketball recruiting staff named the nation's 25 best three-point shooters this afternoon, and among the list are two locals, St. Mark's Nik Stauskas and Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.)'s John Papale.

You can check out the full list here. Below is what the staff had to say about both Stauskas and Papale in that regard:

John Papale, SG
Wallingford, Conn./Choate
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 165 pounds
College: Boston University
Arguably the best pure shooter in the New England prep school league, Papale has rewritten record books in his two years in the NEPSAC, shooting 51 percent behind the arc as a sophomore and setting the mark for most 3s in a half (nine) as a junior. He's a steal for BU, having turned down no less than seven Atlantic 10 offers to commit to the Terriers.

Nik Stauskas, SF
Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark's
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 205 pounds
College: Michigan
Early in Stauskas' career, he was a one-dimensional catch-and-shoot guy, but recent years have seen him become much more versatile, and ultimately that's only made his pure release and deep range all the more dangerous. Combine that with the size to shoot above smaller guards, and he's a major threat from downtown.

Stauskas impresses at Reebok Breakout

July, 7, 2011
ESPN's Dave Telep checks in this afternoon from the first day of the Reebok Breakout Challenge, on the campus of Philadelphia University, and among the most prolific players was St. Mark's shooting guard Nik Stauskas.

The 2012 Michigan commit from Mississauga, Ontario impressed with his European-style handle, and even drew a comparison to Grizzlies guard Greivis Vasquez.

Telep writes:

The Michigan commitment made an impression because he didn't settle for 3-point shots. He'll be a scorer at Michigan with a dash of flair and is in the process of advancing his game going to the rim and inside the arc. He even flicked a left-handed, behind-the-back assist off the drive to an open shooter a la Greivis Vasquez.

Local bigs highlight new ESPNU 2012 rankings

May, 25, 2011
ESPN's basketball recruiting analysts have unveiled the first ESPNU 100 rankings for the Class of 2012, and to nobody's surprise much-hyped big man Andre Drummond of St. Thomas More (Conn.) maintains a vice grip on the No. 1 spot.

New England prep school talent is littered throughout the list, including Brewster Academy's Mitch McGary (4), St. Mark's Kaleb Tarczewski (9) and Nik Stauskas (100), Notre Dame Prep's Ricardo Ledo (13), South Kent's Anrio Adams, Hotchkiss' Mike Tobey, and Bridgton Academy's Kareem Canty. But what sticks out the most in this list is the number of quality big men, including Drummond, Tarczewski and McGary.

Dave Telep has previously opined that Drummond -- already profiled several times in Sports Illustrated, and tabbed by some as a once-a-generation talent -- can separate himself widely from the rest of the pack when he chooses to. Now, he writes, it's time to turn it up a gear:

ESPN analyst John Stovall summed it up best in a recent meeting when he said Drummond and [Isaiah] Austin clearly have the biggest ceilings as prospects. However, both can no longer live on potential and it's time they begin producing to meet their level of expectations. These two bigs are NBA prospects and have physical attributes and talents no one else in the class possesses. The next step is proving it beyond a shadow of a doubt. They're built like pros, they look like pros and we don't need them to play likes pros -- though it's not too much to ask for consistent, impactful efforts.

ESPN's Paul Biancardi has similar thoughts:

Drummond is a physical specimen who has a college/NBA-ready body and has the complete package for a post player. He's a great athlete who scores by finishing a break at the rim, or with his skills in the high or low post. You notice his passing instincts whether he has his back to the basket or is facing the action. Drummond has the speed to outrun defenders, and the length and timing to block shots and rebound. Overall, he has an outstanding combination of size and skill level. He'll need to challenge himself on a daily basis to get better, but he has the potential to be a dominant college freshman.

Telep and Biancardi also make note of Brewster's McGary, who has seen his stock explode since transferring into the Wolfeboro, N.H. prep school from his native Indiana and re-classifying. Perhaps nobody's made a bigger leap so far, as Telep writes:

We've postulated for a long time that 2012 would be the year of the big man and our No. 4 prospect is far and away the fastest-rising player in America. Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy) reclassified to the 2012 class and enrolled at Brewster Academy, which has paid off. Armed with an attitude and a restructured body, the Indiana native made the biggest leap onto our list.

Biancardi similarly praises the big man's frenetic energy on the court:

McGary has always been a solid prospect, but the high-energy power forward has used the spring evaluation period to catapult up the rankings. He has become one of the better rebounders in the 2012 class and can stretch the defense with his ability knock down the face-up jumper out to the 3-point line.

Not to be forgotten either is the 7-foot Tarczewski, still a developing prospect but still an ever-intriguing post player drawing praise as a true five. Biancardi writes:

Because of his size and ability to dominate the paint, Tarczewski might be the top true center prospect in the 2012 class. Whereas most big guys want to show their guard skills, he understands his strengths and rarely deviates from them. Tarczewski has shown consistent improvement every year throughout his high school career and earned his top-10 ranking.

Telep discussed the new rankings in a live chat this afternoon, a transcript of which can be found here.

St. Mark's Stauskas commits to Michigan

March, 28, 2011
ESPN's Adam Finkelstein is reporting that St. Mark's junior guard Nik Stauskas has verbally committed to the University of Michigan for the fall of 2012.

The 6-foot-5 swingman was an integral part of St. Mark's run to the NEPSAC Class AA title game, where the Lions lost to Tilton. He averaged roughly 17.3 points, two rebounds and 2.5 assists this season, his first on the Southborough campus. Stauskas was also considering Kansas, Iowa State and Wake Forest at the time of his commitment.

Stauskas took an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor last summer, and has been heavily recruited by John Beilein's coaching staff ever since. Beilein had one scholarship open for the Class of 2012, and for the Canadian-bred Stauskas that was an opportunity he didn't want to pass up.

"There was no better place for me than Michigan. I talked to my parents about it, talked to my coaches about it and we were all in agreement," Stauskas told Finkelstein. "Coach Beilein is one of the best coaches out there, the system they run is perfect for me, it's a great education, and it's about as close to home as I can get."

Stauskas continues the pipeline of New England prep schools to Ann Arbor, following in the footsteps of sophomore Josh Bartelstein (Philips Exeter), redshirt freshman Blake McLimans (Worcester Academy) and true freshman Evan Smotrycz (New Hampton/Reading High School).

For more recruiting updates on New England's top high school basketball talent, be sure to check out Finkelstein's blog.

Tilton four-peats with Class AA title

March, 7, 2011

BEVERLY, Mass. -- From Alex Oriakhi to Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel, Gerard Coleman and everyone in between, it's been a domineering three-peat in the NEPSAC for Tilton's renowned prep school basketball program.

So what to say of a four-peat?

"Feels like I'm on top of the world right now actually," beamed junior forward Georges Niang, moments after the Rams took care of St. Mark's in impressive fashion, 72-56, for a fourth straight NEPSAC boys' basketball title, at Endicott College's Post Center. The Rams won three straight Class B titles from 2008 to 2010, before moving to Class AA in this season's realignment.

Niang, who was named the Class AA tournament's Most Valuable Player after going off for 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists on the Lions (28-3) in this championship game, called the whole thing "nuts".

"From Alex to Jamaal and Gerard, and then this team right here, we've had a hell of a team so far," the 6-foot-7 Niang said. "I can't complain. All the fellas work hard, and we all play as a team, so that's why we're winning championships. Can't say nothing about [head coach Marcus] O'Neil, he gets it done. He lets us know what we have to do, and how to get it done."

[+] EnlargeTilton
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comHighly-touted big men Kaleb Tarczewski (left) and Nerlens Noel tangle in the NEPSAC Class AA title game.

To get it done this afternoon, the Rams (26-4) came full-circle on an axiom that had dogged them early-on in the season -- namely, selflessness. At points in the season, some felt Tilton preferred isolation plays over the extra pass; but Niang said the turning point came in a loss to Maine Central this season, a buzzer-beater after which O'Neil told them they won't win any more games unless they start passing the ball.

"That was the thing. We really didn't want to run the offense, we'd get into personal battles and try to go one-on-one," Niang said. "And then the Class [AAA] teams like Brewster, they'd eat us up. Now we're running offense, I feel like we're exposing them because we have guys that can step out and shoot, and we have Wayne [Selden], who can get to the hole on anybody. We have point guards that can get them the ball. Just a variety of things."

Indeed, ball movement was the key ingredient in getting the Rams' high-flyers like Niang and freshman Wayne Selden (22 points) active above the rim. Whether it was a dish the open weak-side post in the half-court, or a long outlet in transition, the Rams kept the ball off the floor, and that left St. Mark's frozen at times.

"We talked a lot about speeding them up," Lions head coach David Lubick said. "We sped them up effectively at times, and there were times we didn't. We've talked all year about weakside rotations -- you can't speed up one guy, you've got to speed up the whole team. We did it, and we did it well, but not for the whole game. And then at the other end, you've got to make easier plays. We didn't need to speed ourselves up on offense."

Tilton closed out the first half on a 12-5 run to take a 36-24 lead into the break. The Lions made their push late in the second half, with back-to-back three's from Eli Lubick and Kevin Zabo cutting Tilton's lead to 56-49. Peter Kazickas cut it to an even slimmer margin, 59-53, with a layup in transition with 4:23 to go. But the Lions were held to just one field goal the rest of the way, while the Rams opened up the floor again -- punctuated with the wildest of several crowd-wowing alley-oops on the afternoon, a powerful one-handed Selden slam off a long Niang toss.

"Everything started with the defense today," Selden said. "We knew if that if we came out and took care of things on defense, everything else would come out."

Nik Stauskas led the Lions in the loss with 17 points, while 7-foot junior center Kaleb Tarczewski pitched in with 12 points and nine rebounds.


One of the most intriguing sub-plots of the game had to have been the much-anticipated matchup between Tarczewski and the 6-foot-11 Tilton sophomore Nerlens Noel, considered two of the nation's premier high school big men.

Tarzcewski finished with respectable numbers around the basket, and managed to sneak in a left-handed baby hook on the Everett native. Meanwhile Noel, the nation's No. 2 overall sophomore, asserted himself on the defensive end in the first half, with a throwback up-down style around the rim. He had six rebounds and three blocks in the first 16 minutes.

Consider the matchup a draw. But Lubick noted the Noel effect in the middle was sizeable.

"You can challenge him sometimes, when you get your body into him and you're isolated," Lubick said. "But not when there's another guy there with him, that's the point you've got to kick the ball out. We knew what he is at the rim, and we challenged him too much."


Much has been made of the suitors lining up for Noel's services, but Niang will most certainly see his stock rise over the next six months -- if not for this strong junior season, than with all the exposure he figures to get running with Leo Papile's Boston Amateur Basketball Club on the AAU circuit.

Niang, a Methuen native, says he has unofficial visits planned later this month for Iowa and Iowa State. Texas A&M, Colorado, Northeastern, Siena, Hofstra, George Mason, Florida Atlantic, Miami (Ohio) have shown interest, but Niang noted "my recruitment is open for everybody."

Brendan Hall is a high school editor at Follow him on Twitter.

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

March, 4, 2011
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.”

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

January, 16, 2011

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.”

  • 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
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.”


-- 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.