It was an exciting weekend of basketball at Babson College beginning with the inaugural Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday and then the 5th annual Scholar Roundball Classic on Saturday and Sunday. Here's a look back at some of the major storylines to come out of the three days of action.
College Coaches out in Full Force
In terms of college coaches, this was the most well-attended Scholar Roundball Classic yet. It wasn't just the 40+ coaches that were there on both days of the event, but it was the sheer variety as coaches were literally on hand from coast to coast, every power conference (minus the SEC) in the division I ranks all the way down to great representation from the D2 and D3 ranks. Best of all though was the collection of top academic schools that were represented as Harvard, Penn, Brown, UVA, Cal-Berkley, Northwestern, Davidson, William & Mary, Rice, Boston University, Holy Cross, Lafayette, American, Tufts, Trinity, Wesleyan, Connecticut College, Bowdoin, Middlebury, NYU and numerous others were all in attendance.
New Names for the Best Available Lists
This is the time of year when many college coaching staffs are looking for new names and this weekend they might have just found a few. While Ian Sistare is hardly a new name, he backed-up his performance from a few weeks ago at the National Prep Showcase with another strong showing here. He missed Saturday's game to take the ACT but had a very solid showing on Sunday and left with more coaches buzzing about his recent progress. Perhaps the most notable new name was that of Isaiah Nichols, a post-graduate guard from California. While AOF couldn't stay with a much deeper NMH team for all 40 minutes Friday, it was nonetheless clear that Nichols was playing second fiddle to no one. A big lead guard who made some high level plays in the open floor and knocked down shots from behind the three-point line, his recruitment is sure to jump following the weekend. Two other post-graduate guards, Williston Northampton's Jamaal David and Phillips Academy's Danny Evans, were cut from similar cloths as big guards capable of playing on and off the ball. David is intriguing because of his length and playmaking instincts while Evans stood out with his skill set and passing ability. Maxime Boursiquot, a bulldozer who combines incredible power with extremely long arms, was the best available wing prospect of the weekend and led the Kent School to a passionate run at Vermont Academy. Up front it was Choate's Myles Cherry, a skilled southpaw from Australia, that started to make a name for himself and caught the attention of coaches in attendance.
Jermaine Samuels returned to the court at the Scholar Roundball Classic
Junior Class Brings the High-Majors
While there was plenty of still available talent in the class of 2016, the high-major coaches in attendance were locked in on the class of 2017, which was loaded with talent and depth. It was only appropriate that Jermaine Samuels made his first appearance back from injury, and dropped 20 points as if he hadn't missed a beat in the process, but he was really just the tip of the iceberg. The NMH trio of Andrew Platek, Kellan Grady and Tomas Murphy all shined at various moments. Platek was as consistent a perimeter scorer as the club had all weekend while Grady continued to show glimpses of being a high level playmaker. For Murphy, things definitely seem to be headed in the right direction, as he was more assertive all weekend and a consistent threat inside the paint from start to finish. The Cushing Academy duo of Wabissa Bede and Jarrod Simmons had their fair share of high-majors locked in as well including Virginia, Villanova, Northwestern and Iowa among others. Simmons seems to get a little better with each passing game and this weekend was no exception while Bede only continues to assert himself as one of the premier 2017 point guard prospects, not just in New England but in all of the northeast.
Welcome Home Party
Speaking of high-major juniors, there might not been a better trio than the one Blair Academy brought in. While Kodye Pugh already has a slew of offers and Deng Gak might have the highest long-term upside, it was Matt Turner who played a starring role this weekend. A Connecticut native now in his second season at the New Jersey prep school, Turner had his total game going this weekend as he made tough jumpers from beyond the arc and even operated off the dribble. Whether or not the high-major schools were there for him initially we'll never know, but you can bet they left having taken note of his performance.
Still Early but Nonetheless Big
Yes, it is early in the season and that means no one is yet crisp in what they're doing, on either end of the floor, but that doesn't mean it's too early to score a big win and a couple of teams left Babson College having done just that. The first came Saturday night when Phillips Exeter knocked off Williston Northampton in a battle of the last two Class A champions. A year ago, Williston took that game and ended up going on to the New England championship a few months later. Can Exeter do the same this year? It's certainly not impossible, but don't be shocked if these two teams see each other again come postseason time. It was also a big weekend for Kimball Union Academy that captured a signature win over Blair Academy in an overtime decision on Saturday and returned for a commanding performance over Choate a day later.