The Top-10 College Basketball Prospects in Central Massachusetts
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Central Massachusetts has had its fair share of star basketball prospects in the past, but this year’s group of players may be the best in recent memory. While it remains to be seen if there is Michael Beasley in this class, there are several players with the potential to be stars at the next level. The class of 2012 is headlined by two of the nation’s premier big men in Notre Dame’s Steven Adams and St. Mark’s Kaleb Tarczewski, while a pair of versatile combo-forwards and a trio of athletic combo-guards give the class great depth and versatility.
The biggest reason for 2012 being a huge year for recruiting in Central Mass is the immense amount of talent compiled at Notre Dame Prep. Long known for its basketball program, Notre Dame seems to bring in national recruits every year, and this may be one of its most talented groups ever. But don’t sleep on the potent one-two punch of high major recruits at St. Mark’s School, or the two talented forwards at Winchendon either. Finally, Worcester Academy is sending out two Division I players, and coach James Sullivan thinks his power forward Andrew Scocca could be the sleeper of the class.
1. Steven Adams: Notre Dame Prep, 6-11/230 PF
Rivals Rank: No.4 Nationally, No. 2 Power Forward. Five stars.
NERR Rank: No. 2 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Pittsburgh
2. Kaleb Tarczewski: St. Mark’s School, 7-0/220 C
Rivals Rank: No. 20 Nationally, No. 1 Center. Five stars.
NERR Rank: No. 1 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Arizona
As the most “true” center in the class, Tarczewski’s game is truly a throwback. The St. Mark’s product is a rugged defender and rebounder that excels with his back to the basket offensively. There simply are not many players like him in the country today, and Arizona is getting a player that can anchor the post for them on both ends of the floor. There are few holes in his game, but adding range to his jump shot will be a priority at the next level.
3. Nick Staukas: St. Mark’s School, 6-5/185 SG
Rivals Rank: No. 79 Nationally, No. 12 Shooting Guard. Four stars.
NERR Rank: No. 4 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Michigan
Staukas is the kind of all-around “glue” player that every team needs. While he is an impressive long-range shooter, his game is far more than that of a three-point specialist. Staukas possesses good size for a guard, and uses his long arms to complete crafty passes over and around defenders. He will need to add strength since he may also be playing small forward in John Beilein’s system at Michigan, but seems college-ready other than that.
4. Myles Davis: Notre Dame Prep, 6-1/195 SG
Rivals Rank: No. 140 Nationally, No. 30 Shooting Guard. Three stars.
NERR Rank: No. 5 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Xavier
Some of his classmates at Notre Dame have more potential, but Davis is the most complete guard on his team right now. Davis is one of the best pure jump shooters in the entire country, and has a complete all-around offensive game. Defensively he is solid, but the fact that he does not have elite size or athleticism will limit what he can do on the ball in college.
5. Adonis Filer: Notre Dame Prep, 6-2/175 PG
Rivals Rank: No. 117 Nationally, No. 24 Point Guard. Three stars.
NERR Rank: No. 8 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Clemson
Filer is the best athlete on a loaded Notre Dame squad, and is quietly developing a nice mid-range game to go with his explosiveness. Offensively, Filer thrives off his ability to get to the basket and finish at the rim, but no one will confuse him for a three-point threat. Defensively, Filer has the tools to be dominant; he just has to put it together more consistently.
6. Sam Cassell Jr.: Notre Dame Prep, 6-3/180 SG
Rivals Rank: Unranked three-star prospect.
NERR Rank: No. 6 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Undecided
Cassell’s stock has soared since the National Prep Invitational at the beginning of the month. The son of the former NBA guard of the same name, Cassell dominated Notre Dame’s tournament opening win over Wilbraham and Monson, dropping four long three-pointers and finishing at the
7. Akosa Maduegbunam: Winchendon, 6-3/185 SF
Rivals Rank: Unranked
NERR Rank: No. 7 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Penn State
Maduegbunam is a complete guard offensively, and his combination of driving ability and three-point range should make him a standout in Happy Valley. Maduegbunam should be quick enough to guard the two or three in college, and he has enough size to not get shot over by most guards. Every player going into Division I needs to get stronger, but it will be especially important for Maduegbunam, who enters the Big Ten as an undersized shooting guard/forward hybrid. Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin do not have many undersized players.
“He’s really bought in to the fact that he needs to be a great defensive player,” coach Matthew Quin said. “He’s such a natural scorer, but I think he’s used this season as a learning experience. He’s just learning where to be at all times, and he’s become a much more complete player.”
8. Olivier Paul Betu: Worcester Academy, 6-1/185 PG
Rivals Rank: Unranked
NERR Ranks: No. 18 in Massachusetts
College Choice: UC Davis
Speed is the name of Paul Betu’s game, and the explosive combo-guard has plenty of it. Paul Betu operates mostly as a shooting guard at Worcester Academy, but has the athleticism and court presence to run the point. He is still a bit of a streaky shooter at this point, but Paul Betu is a game-changing defensive player.
“He is extremely, extremely quick,” Worcester Academy coach James Sullivan said. “He is a very strong defender, and that speed creates a lot of problems for other teams.”
9. Tevin Falzon: Winchendon, 6-7/200 PF
Rivals Ranks: Unranked
NERR Rank: No. 22 in Massachusetts
College Choice: Sacred Heart
Falzon is a versatile forward that can hurt you inside and out. When he was 16, Falzon helped lead the Maltese National 18 and under team to a European championship and, though he was born in Boston, his offensive game has a European flair. With great size and athleticism, Falzon has proven to be too quick for most power forwards and too large for most small forwards. Strength down low is still a question mark, but his total offensive skill set makes Falzon a potential steal for Sacred Heart.
“He needs to get a little bit stronger and just continue to develop his body,” coach Matthew Quin said. “But he’s a hard working kid. We always work to get him the ball, everywhere on the floor, because he’s such a good decision maker. Not just as a scorer, but as a passer too.”
10. Andrew Scocca: Worcester Academy, 6-8/245 PF
Rivals Rank: Unranked
NERR Rank: Unranked
College Choice: Bryant
Scocca is a tenacious rebounding post-graduate that has seen his stock rise dramatically in the past few months. Scocca chose Bryant over late offers from the majority of the Ivy League after a massive body transformation. Since arriving at Worcester Academy, Scocca has dropped over 30 pounds, and gone from a low-Division III recruit to a player that has the body and athleticism to rebound in any conference in America. Scocca can face up and shoot it, but will need to work on his post game to take advantage of his immense physical strength. Coach Sullivan credits Scocca for his loyalty and his commitment to improving his game.
“After a he verbally committed to Bryant, everybody in the Ivy League and the Patriot League started calling me,” Sullivan said. “But he’s a loyal kid, and he always has been with me. He’s a very physically strong kid, and he’s still working hard on his body and consistency in his jump shot.”