BOSTON, MA - While the prep ranks are usually loaded with older players, the HoopDreamsMag Prep Classic featured a number of talented underclassmen who were out to prove a point with the spotlight on them. Some rose to the occasion, while others didn't but showed potential.
Between the talent of New England sophomores Sedee Keita, Bruce Brown and Jordy Tshimanga, among others, it is clear that the New England Prep scene remains strong. With coaches having the ability to bring in players from all over, the diversity is fairly amazing. Keita comes from Delaware and Tshimanga from Montreal, while Brown is a local Boston product.
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Tshimanga - a 2016 center from MacDuffie (MA) - has the opportunity to be one of the top big men in his grade. With a combination of soft hands, a solid jump hook, good foot work, a high motor and big body, he is the ideal high-major post player. With time on his side, he has two and a half years to become more agile, quick and athletic. Nevertheless, he has a lot of old school to his game, which he models after NBA player Zach Randolph. Nicknamed "Z-Bo" just like Randolph, the Canadian sophomore has a lot of similarities to New York junior and top-50 recruit Jessie Govan. At this time, he is not aware of any colleges who are recruiting him simply because his coaches want him to stay focused. As he will run with the New England Playaz in AAU, expect him to blow up on the Adidas circuit and become one of the quickest stock risers in the 2016 group.
Keita - a 2016 power forward out of Vermont Academy (VT) - is another unranked big man who has a different style to his game that will gain more notice soon. Already holding offers from Penn State, Boston College, VCU, Villanova, Fairfield, Iowa, Iowa State and Rutgers, he was a 6-foot-1 guard at one point in his life, but continued to grow and is currently at 6-foot-9. His guard skills have carried over to make him a threat on the perimeter. Keita can drive on the perimeter, dish it out to open teammates or take it to the rim himself. His handle is fairly impressive for his size and age. As his jumper still needs more repetition, it is not his perimeter game that needs improvement but his post game. A stretch four, Keita has the ability to be somewhat similar to Kentucky bound Karl Towns with guard and post skills for a big man if he continues to improve down low. Still not that strong, his improvement on the defensive side of the ball is much needed, as well as mental consistency when making a mistake. If he can get it all together and stay positive throughout mistakes on the court, we're looking at a very special prospect.
Brown - a 2016 wing from Vermont Academy (VT) - is another new addition to the program full of talented sophomores. Brown played the point in AAU, and his versatility is very telling as he can do so much with the ball in his hands. The issue for him is being productive without the ball in his possession. Rebounding, being active and making contributions on offense without the ball in his hands are points of improvement. With elite athleticism, handle and a physically gifted body, Brown is a high-level slasher who is also in need of an outside jump shot. With plenty of time left, Brown is another high-ceiling prospect for all that he can do with such a major skill set. As his recruitment is likely to blow up in the near future, things have been quiet but dozens of schools are inquiring and continue to. For now, though, things are being kept quiet for the versatile wing who had minimal college interest at this time last year.
Samuels in the Spotlight
Known in middle school as an elite level prospect because of his athleticism, Jermaine Samuels has had to step in the spotlight of high school basketball slowly. The 2017 6-foot-6 small forward is playing for small Rivers School (MA) where receives a good education, and the pressure of being a top young prospect doesn't weigh on him to much. As he builds up his skill set and becomes better week by week, the expectations gradually increase but aren't to high for the freshman.
As he came into the national spotlight last year while playing U17 ball with Expressions Elite (MA), it was clear he had a shot at being one of the better players in the 2017 group. It is very early, however, and there is still a lot of improvement to be made.
Holding early offers from Boston College, Boston, Providence, Dartmouth, UConn, Rhode Island and Harvard, Samuels isn't distracted by the process. He wasn't expecting it at such an early age, though, and it blows him away. With an improving shot that wasn't falling on Saturday, he showed a good ability at spreading the floor, playing defense in the post, and attacking and finishing around the basket in transition. His on-ball defense needs improvement and his consistency as there are times he is out there, but his impact isn't felt.
As he has visited many schools already, Samuels will be at Boston College on Monday night as they face No. 2 Syracuse.
Unsigned Seniors Searching
2014 Worcester Academy (MA) power forward Matt Cimino made a strategical move waiting it out until the spring. His recruitment has benefitted with the lack of power forwards out there. A stretch four by design, he shoots it well from outside and stretches the floor. Cimino plays well on the block, but struggled on Saturday due to his lack of physicality, muscle and versatility. Still, he is one of the better options out there by default as Tulsa has offered with many interested. Vanderbilt, George Washington, Georgia, Wisconsin, UConn and California are all calling, showing interest, coming to games and could offer in the near future. With the intention of taking his official visits after the season and signing in the spring, he will look at a teams needs, as well as his relationship with the coaching staff. If the senior sees an opportunity where he can benefit and get some playing time early, it will help the cause.
2014 Lee Academy (ME) point guard Aaron Calixte could have committed to Iona in the fall, but never got the chance to visit due to an injury. From the looks of it, however, he will use an official visit on the MAAC school in the near future and should wind up there. The Gaels, after all, have made him a priority.
2014 Marianapolis Prep (CT) power forward Eric Long is a low division one prospect because of his size, but his effort on the court will continue to get him noticed. Because of his defense first approach, this has led to offers from Siena, Delaware, St. Francis (NY), St. Peter's and Stony Brook, with interest from Wagner, Vermont, New Hampshire, Colgate and Holy Cross. Long does a great job crashing the boards and being a team player with his high motor and constant effort on the court. As he visited Vermont and New Hampshire in the fall, he will wait it out and take his official visits after the season.
For the latest in college basketball recruiting, head to TheRecruitScoop.com for the latest details and notes on offers, visits, commitments and more. To contact Alex Kline, you can reach him by email at MaryKlineClassic@gmail.com or on Twitter at TheRecruitScoop.