Boston High School: Semaj Christon

There are a slew of happy souls in Roxbury's Mission Hill neighborhood tonight, as one of its finest products ever, two-time national champion Shabazz Napier of UConn, was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft tonight.

The Miami Heat traded their first-round pick, No. 26 overall, and two second-round picks to the Charlotte Hornets to move up two spots to grab Napier with the 24th pick, a move that drew the praise of free agent-to-be LeBron James:



Napier starred first at Charlestown High, then Groton's Lawrence Academy, before earning two national championships at UConn, in 2011 and 2014. In this most recent national title run, UConn's fourth since 1999, Napier was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Napier's native Mission Hill neighborhood is a revered breeding ground for some of the best point guards to come out of Boston, from Wayne Turner to Will Blalock to Tony Lee. In a 2010 interview with ESPNBoston.com, Napier talked about the mentoring of those past and present, most significantly Blalock:



"I grew up in the Mission Hill projects in Roxbury. I didn’t have a father, so I ended up staying with…he’s not really my brother, but I consider him my older brother, Will Blalock. I was the youngest of three kids, and my mother raised us on her own, sometimes with one job, sometimes with no job. It was tough, so I tried to make it easier for her by staying in the arms of someone who cares about me and is going to make me a better basketball player. I learned my skills basically from him, watching him play, watching my other older brothers play, learning from them. They had great IQ’s, they know how to play the game real well, and it was just a pleasure to learn from them. I had a group of guys I consider brothers who just took me underneath their arms…Will Blalock, Steve Hailey, Tony Lee, Will Dickerson, Shawn Davis, Kenneth Jackson. They’ve been big mentors."



Napier told ESPN's Brian Windhorst he hoped his arrival would help persuade James to return to Miami.

"I would hope so," Napier said. "He's one of the best players in the world. So if me going there helps him come back, it just betters our chances of being a complete team."

Napier told ESPN.com he's eager to prove himself in the NBA.

"No, the chip never leaves my shoulder. It will never leave my shoulder," Napier said. "That's what makes me who I am. And I was saying that not to belittle any other point guards. There's a reason why they're here. But I was just saying that because that's who I am. I wouldn't be Shabazz Napier if I wouldn't have said that. I believe it, and I'm going to prove it.

"What I always learned was that whatever you put in is what you're going to get out. If I don't put in the work, it's not going to show. So there's always a chip on my shoulder to prove to myself that I'm the best, and to do that, I've got to work hard."

Napier was one of several local prep school products to get selected tonight.

Missisauga, Ont. native Nik Stauskas, who starred at Southborough's St. Mark's School for two years before a decorated career at Michigan, was taken eighth overall by the Sacramento Kings. Stauskas was named First Team All-ISL in his senior season of 2011-12 after averaging 20 points, six rebounds and five assists in leading the Lions to the NEPSAC Class AA championship. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year this past season at Michigan.

One pick after Stauskas, Haverhill native Noah Vonleh was selected by the Charlotte Hornets. Vonleh was named to ESPNBoston.com's inaugural All-State Team in 2010-11 as a sophomore at Haverhill High, before moving on to a decorated career at New Hampton (N.H.) School. Vonleh was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year this past season at Indiana.

Three Brewster Academy (N.H.) products were selected in the first round. North Carolina State product T.J. Warren, a Durham, N.C. native who prepped at Brewster in 2011-12, went 14th overall to the Phoenix Suns. Xavier guard Semaj Christon, a Cincinnati native who also prepped at Brewster in 11-12, went in the second round to the Miami Heat.

Chesterton, Ind. native Mitch McGary, a power forward who spent two seasons at Brewster (2010-11, 11-12), was taken 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, out of Michigan. At one point in his career at Brewster, McGary was ranked the No. 2 overall high school recruit in the country.

New York native Russ Smith, who prepped for one year at South Kent (Conn.) in 2009-10, was also selected in the second round by the by the Philadelphia 76ers after a four-year career at Louisville that included a National Championship in 2013.

NEPSAC: NMH 87, Brewster Academy (N.H.) 83

March, 2, 2012
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BEVERLY, Mass. –- Spike Albrecht is one clutch player.

Scoring only 11 points in regulation, the 6-foot-1 guard hailing from Crown Point, Ind. stuck his neck out in overtime, taking three trips to the line and going 5-6, including 2 with 2.7 seconds left in the game, lifting Northfield Mt.-Hermon over previously-undefeated Brewster Academy (N.H.), 87-83, in overtime during the semifinal round of the NEPSAC Class AAA basketball tournament at Endicott College.

“It was fatigue, both teams were feeling it,” said Hoggers head coach John Carroll. “The team that had the most left in the tank was going to win, and it looked like it was our guys.”

The teams played point tag for nearly the entire game, first knotting it up at 5 early in the first and lastly at 82 with 2:49 left in overtime. NMH (28-5) won the tap to begin overtime at 78, but a block by Brewster’s Jakarr Sampson thwarted that effort. The Hoggers’ Evan Cummins lit up the board with a free throw at 4:15, sinking one to put them ahead at 79-78. A Brewster miss and an Albrecht rebound resulted in a three by Anthony Dallier -- with an assist from Cummins -- to put them ahead 82-78.

After Cummins missed two free throws, Sampson grabbed the rebound and came down the other end of the court with a put-back, plus the foul, to tie it up at 82. He was unable to complete the three-point play, however, and the game remained even.

The next points would again come from Albrecht, hitting two free throws with 32.5 seconds left in the game. Down 84-82, Brewster’s Mitch McGary went to the line with 17.3 seconds left, made the first but clanged the second. Anthony Dallier got the rebound for the Hoggers, and once again Albrecht was fouled. He was unable to sink both this time, but it was enough to put the Hoggers up by 85-83 with 12.8 seconds to go.

The Bobcats (30-1) were able to get the ball off the Albrecht miss. Down at the other end, Semaj Christon drove to his right but lost control of the ball after colliding with Cummins; Albrecht scooped up the loose ball and immediately was fouled.

With 2.7 seconds left, and with all of the pressure on his shoulders, Albrecht coolly strode to the free throw line and let the ice drip onto the ball, sinking both free throws and putting the game indefinitely out of reach at 87-83.

“He’s the guy that keeps us together, he’s the guy who makes clutch plays,” Carroll said. “When he stepped to the line with that time left, there was no doubt in my mind that they were going in.”

O'Day, What a Day: Although Albrecht carried the Hoggers during overtime, it was Evan O’Day’s 31 points, including five points within the last three minutes of regulation, that gave Northfield Mt. Herman the spark they needed to carry the game into overtime and upset the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

"We've been preparing for these guys for a while," O'Day said. "They beat us by eight at our place the first time. We definitely scouted, did the work. Definitely hats off to Coach Carroll and [assistant coach John] Halas, for doing the scouting report. They really made us work, and we were prepared for them this time for sure."

Big Spike Albrecht was able to score 5 of his team’s nine points in overtime, not because he is a scoring assassin, or has to prove to scouts that he will perform for them because they’ve committed resources to his future, but because he has a big heart.

Albrecht was willing to sacrifice his body in the lane, was able to drown out the noise from the crowd as well as that little voice of doubt that rings whenever a pressure situation pressure situation presents itself, and come through for his team when they needed him to.

“It was nice,” said Albrecht of being fouled and having a chance to shoot uncontested shots. “I always enjoy going to the line at the end of the game. I pride myself on making free throws because that’s what wins games.”

Up Next: NMH will face St. Thomas More (Conn.) in Sunday's Class AAA Final at Endicott at 4 p.m. The Chancellors are coming off a thrilling victory of their own, beating New Hampton on a buzzer beater in the Class AAA semifinal following NMH's win.

The Hoggers beat St. Thomas More in both of their regular season meetings, both by six points oddly enough -- 90-84 on Jan. 13, and 76-70 on Feb. 8.


Locals named breakout July performers

August, 8, 2011
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With the July evaluation period over, ESPN's group of basketball recruiting analysts got together for a roundtable on the biggest breakout performers of the summer. Several locals popped up on the radar, as shown below:



Mike LaPlante: BABC won as many games as anyone this summer, and Georges Niang (Methuen, Mass./The Tilton School) was a major factor. He is the ultimate lunch-pail guy who goes about his business without a lot of fanfare, while consistently outplaying higher-rated opponents. Although the Iowa State commit may not pass the eye test with flying colors, he is a deceptive athlete who understands how to maximize his abilities and is as tough as they come in the low post. I love his high basketball IQ and the fact that he is obsessed with winning. The rest of the country now knows what Iowa State and a handful of other programs knew all along -- this kid is a winner who was grossly undervalued.

Reggie Rankin: Xavier commit Semaj Christon (Cincinnati/Brewster Academy) is a postgrad, but his talent and ability to take over games from the point guard position was a treat to watch this summer. He has size, speed, quickness, athletic ability and skill. Plus, he can make a positive play with the clock winding down. Christon has the talent to have an immediate impact for the Musketeers from Day 1.

John Stovall: Kris Dunn (New London, Conn./Wilbraham & Monson) is a scoring point guard who had a limited national profile coming into this spring and summer. Playing alongside Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More) all summer has really helped raise his profile, but he is very talented in his own right. Dunn is very quick, athletic, hard to keep out of the paint and very good at creating for himself or his teammates. The 6-3, 180-pounder understands how to use his size to score, pass and defend.


Brewster's Christon commits to Xavier

July, 25, 2011
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Citing multiple sources, ESPNU is reporting that Cincinnati native and Brewster Academy (N.H.) incoming post-graduate Semaj Christon will stay home to play his college basketball for the Xavier Musketeers.

Christon chose Xavier over Cincinnati, Georgetown, Illinois and Providence.

ESPN Recruiting Coordinator Reggie Rankin describes Christon as "an immediate impact guard that has size, skill and athletic ability.

"What makes him special is he's a high level playmaker not only for himself but teammates. He has the talent to challenge for a starting position right away.

"A huge commit for Chris Mack not only because of his talent but Christon is a local kid," Rankin added. "He should provide the Xavier fans with a high octane fast break while making plays off ball screens and end of clock situations."

Christon is the fifth commitment for head coach Chris Mack in 2012, joining center Sim Bhullar, power forward James Farr and Notre Dame Prep shooting guard Myles Davis. Power forward Jalen Reynolds originally signed with Xavier's 2011, class but did not qualify academically. He will also spend a post-grad year at Brewster along side Christon before enrolling in 2012.

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