Looking to the future
Noah Vonleh, Jacquil Taylor highlight New England Elite 75 Underclassmen Showcase
MANSFIELD, Mass. -- The New England Elite 75 Underclassmen Showcase has proven to be a breeding ground for the region's top up-and-coming prospects over the years. The fourth installment brought New England's top underclassmen prospects under the same roof.
Noah Vonleh (Haverhill, Mass./New Hampton School)
2014, PF, 6-foot-8, 215 pounds
The No. 6-ranked prospect in the ESPNU 25 was absolutely dominant. This event was a bit of a springboard for Vonleh a year ago as he went from a relatively unknown to one of the nation's best. Since that time, he's added a variety of new weapons and only distanced himself from the competition in New England. Physically, he's become much more explosive and he showed that off Saturday with a variety of highlight finishes, including one incredible tomahawk dunk in which he elevated from a standstill. From a skill standpoint, Vonleh's handle continues to be a weapon while his instinctive economy of motion only makes him that much more effective off the dribble. His jumper has continued to come along at a steady pace while he's also become a more dominant rebounder and improved his overall feel for the game.
Jared Terrell (Weymouth, Mass./New Hampton School)
2014, SG, 6-3, 185 pounds
He's a power guard who thrives in this type of environment because he attacks the rim with incredible vigor. Opposing defenders have a tendency to bounce off him en route to the rim and he is also an excellent finisher because his combination of power and athleticism allows him to convert both above the rim as well as through contact. Terrell also has a tremendous motor that allows him to maximize his physical tools and make an equally big impact on the defensive end. His skill set is starting to show more consistent signs of development with a solid pull-up dimension to his game as well.
Jarred Reuter (Rochester, Mass./Tabor Academy)
2015, PF, 6-8, 235 pounds
Reuter was simply a man among boys in the freshman division. Because his power is unmatched and his wide body absolutely immovable inside the lane, it was no surprise to see him dominating the paint. What was notable were the new ways that he was impacting the game. He knocked down a couple of 3s over the course of the day, showed an ability to start the break with his dribble after pulling in defensive rebounds, and also made some nice passes from the interior.
Kahari Beaufort (East Hartford, Conn./East Hartford)
2015, SG, 6-3, 175 pounds
The skilled swingman was in attack mode all day long, not only showing his trademark shots from downtown and pull-ups, but also doing work with his dribble, aggressively driving into the teeth of the defense and showing good touch and body control finishing plays. He'll need to work on his decision making and shot selection, while also learning the intricacies on the defensive end of the floor, but he has the sheer tools to evolve into a versatile scorer down the road.
Jacquil Taylor (Cambridge, Mass./Beaver Country Day)
2014, PF, 6-9, 200 pounds
Taylor has long been known as one of the region's top prospects because of his size, length, mobility, and lefty touch, but dominant has rarely been a word you would associate with him. That all changed on Saturday as Taylor asserted himself on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he turned shots away at will, patrolling the rim from a wide radius and showing dexterity along with quick bounce. Offensively, he was more assertive as well, attacking the baseline with quick spins off his post-ups and scoring over the top of defenders with his soft touch.
Player to watch
Pascal Chukwu (Westport, Conn./Trinity Catholic)
2014, C, 7-1, 200 pounds In terms of sheer productivity there were other prospects that may have got more done than Chukwu, but few other than Vonleh could surpass his overall potential. A legitimate 7-footer who is light on his feet with good mobility and agility, Chukwu not only runs the court but can also move laterally. He's got long arms that allow him to block and alter a variety of shots on the defensive end while he has a soft touch that already extends to the elbow right now. Given a couple more years to fill out his frame and accumulate more experience, he has a chance to be something special.
• The biggest difference between the freshman group and the sophomore group is the physical development the extra year makes. Sophomores Jeff Spellman (Boston/Beaver Country Day) and Jared Wilson-Frame (Wilson, Conn./Windsor) are two 2014 products who have become much more explosive in the last year. With both already being known as shot-makers, their respective stocks could be on the rise.
• Quincy McKnight (Bridgeport, Conn./St. Joseph's Prep) has also progressed significantly in the last year but in a much different way. His body was undeveloped a year ago, but you could see it was only a matter of time with his long frame. He's starting to fill out more now but also expanding his skill set to allow him to be a more versatile playmaker, not only handling and passing, but also shooting with more consistency.
• Sophomore Matt Cimino (Falmouth, Maine/Worcester Academy) and freshman Aaron Falzon (Auburndale, Mass./St. Mark's) were two of the premier stretch 4-men in the field. Both combine size and length with an ability to step to the arc and make shots. Both also need to improve their strength and productivity inside the lane, while Cimino is the more likely of the two to be willing to do the dirty work at this point.
• Djery Baptiste (Haiti/Wilbraham & Monson) is only in his first year stateside and still very raw, but he has some incredible physical tools. He's 6-10 with a 7-7 wingspan and runs the floor like an absolute deer. His hands, footwork, skill set, and feel for the game will all require time and patience but he's already made notable improvements in the month he has been here.
• Brandon Aughburns (Flushing, N.Y./Canterbury) and Jashanti Allen (Elmont, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon) are two New York natives who attend prep school in New England. Both were among the top performers in the freshman division.
Adam Finkelstein has been a coach or scout at the high school, college and pro levels. He was an assistant coach in Division I by the age of 24 and also worked as a scout for Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting.
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