The 2020 National Prep Championship tips on Tuesday at Connecticut College and culminates on Thursday with semifinal and final rounds, airing live on YurView NE (Cox Ch. 4) and streaming on yurview.com.
14 teams enter this year’s event, the largest in the event’s history. Four of those teams – Brewster Academy, IMG Academy, Putnam Science Academy, and Hargrave Military Academy – will receive byes into Wednesday’s quarterfinal action.
The other ten teams will all debut on Tuesday beginning with a pair of opening round games as DME Academy from Florida faces Woodstock Academy from Connecticut and Cushing Academy from Massachusetts takes on Mt. Zion Prep from Maryland.
The DME/Woodstock winner will move on to face Scotland Campus later in the day while the Cushing/Mt. Zion winner will face Sunrise Christian later in the day. Other Tuesday quarterfinals feature Springfield Commonwealth against St. Thomas More and Spire Institute from Ohio against Northfield Mount Hermon.
Here’s a rundown of the programs in contention.
Brewster Academy – Jason Smith has had the most dominant prep program in the country over the last decade and this year’s group has just as much individual talent as some of his best teams. The question has been how well those parts fit together. They’ve lost only two games all season long, but it hasn’t been easy to get everything to click. Kentucky pledge and McDonald’s All-American Terrence Clarke, Miami bound forward Matt Cross, BC commit DeMarr Ashton-Langford, Maryland pledge Marcus Dockery, Syracuse bound guard Kadary Richmond, Minnesota commit Jamal Mashburn Jr, and UMass bound guard Javohn Garcia headline the rotation.
IMG Academy – IMG looked like the most dominant team in the country to start the season and picked up a key win over Hargrave Military Academy at the HoopHall Prep Showcase. Head coach Chad Myer’s club comes into the national championships continuing to rely on the frontcourt tandem of Kenyon Martin Jr. and Mikeal Brown-Jones, a duo that compensates for their lack of collective size with superior athleticism and energy. The perimeter is headlined by UNLV commit Nick Blake and Providence pledge Alyn Breed along with unsigned senior Darius Miles. Unsigned guard Noah Hutchins is a key player off the bench.
Putnam Science Academy – Texas A&M bound guard Hassan Diarra, who just became the program’s all-time leading scorer, is the undisputed leader of this squad and one of the bigger alphas in all of prep school basketball. Where this team is truly unique though is with their size and depth up front as head coach Tom Espinosa’s rotation includes a pair of unsigned 7-footers in Vlad Goldin and Josh Gray, along with Elijah Hutchins-Everett, Terrell Ard Jr, and Melvyn Ebonkoli. Other key players include Marty Silvera, Fordham commit Julian Dozier, and junior Jaylen Murray in the backcourt along with NJIT pledge Mekhi Gray and unsigned post-grad D’Maurian Williams on the wing.
Hargrave Military Academy – Lee Martin’s squad comes into this tournament with heavy hearts after the tragic passing of teammate A.J. James just last week. The Tigers will play in their teammate’s honor though and look to capture the third national championship in program history. Georgia bound guard K.D. Johnson is a dynamic scorer who can put points on the board as well as anyone in the prep ranks while Tennessee bound forward Corey Walker gives them a second top 100 national prospect. Senior big man Gabe Wiznitzer is a key in the middle while Mark Sears is one of the most coveted unsigned guards in the field.
Scotland Campus – Chris Chaney’s club advanced all the way to the finals last year and has the depth to make another run this season. Iowa State bound wing Darlinstone Dunbar is just the tip of the iceberg. Abou Ousmane gives them a true low-post scorer while Jayson Woodridge is one of the best pure shooters in the field. The backcourt is led by three more unsigned prospects in Norance Berry, Terrell Strickland, and Jaeden Zackery. There’s even more D1 caliber talent coming off the bench in Noble Crawford, Louis Bleechmore, Mohammed Wague, and others.
Spire Institute – In November, Spire came out of Connecticut and lost true road games to both Putnam Science and Woodstock Academy. Since then, they’ve only lost one game as head coach Gravelle Craig has led one of the hottest teams in the country since the first of the year. Toledo pledge Raheim Moss is a major weapon in the backcourt while Chad Baker is one of the more intriguing unsigned players left on the board. Aundre Polk gives them an athletic big man to man the middle while the arrival of Oakland bound forward Phil Joseph gave him an important running mate up front.
Springfield Commonwealth – Nick Couluris’ first year at the helm of the program has led to great success for Springfield Commonwealth. Femi Odukale has been one of the biggest risers in all of prep school basketball with now handfuls of high-major suitors while Aaron Gray, Isaiah Richards, and Brian Stevens are also top unsigned targets. Enoch Cheeks has shown throughout the season why he is such a steal in the NEC after committing to Robert Morris in the fall.
St. Thomas More – Jere Quinn’s return to the sideline has sparked one of the Chancellor’s best seasons in the last few years. Charlotte bound forward Jared Garcia has finally started to put all the pieces together while unsigned senior Jair Currie has taken his game to new levels as well. Junior forward Jai Smith is another key weapon as is Cornell bound guard Chris Manon.
Northfield Mount Hermon – John Carroll’s squad welcomed an atypical number of newcomers this year and has seen the group grow together throughout the course of the season. Sam Silverstein and Zach Taylor, committed to Harvard and Brown respectively, give NMH their latest two Ivy pledges while Darius Ervin has been the team’s heart and soul all season long. Prince Moses is the key in the middle.
Woodstock Academy – After fighting through some late season adversity, Jacque Rivera has his club playing well again heading into the post-season. Dyondre Dominguez made a recent pledge to UMass while Ronnie DeGray forms the other half of a lethal forward tandem. With Jordan Mitchell and Jamon Kemp now fully healthy, the team is deeper and more athletic than they’ve been all season.
DME Academy – Wesam Al-Sous’ club played their way onto the national map with wins over IMG Academy, Woodstock Academy, and CBD Montverde in the last month of the season. The Murray twins, Keegan and Kris – who are both committed to Iowa, lead the way with a supporting cast consists of DJ Warren, Trey Fort, Dalph Panopio, Petar Raickovic, and Meechie Terry.
Cushing Academy – The Penguins were the pride of Class AA all season long before suffering a semi-final loss on Saturday. The junior tandem of Bensley Joseph and Alexis Reyes both hold high-major recruitment while Isaiah Gray and Malachi Ndur are Ivy bound in 2020 and Toby Okani remains unsigned for head coach James Cormier.
Mt. Zion Prep – Rodrick Harrison has a frontcourt that can compete with anyone in Syracuse bound forward Woody Newton and unsigned senior David N’Guessan. Otis Frazier, Caleb Bates and Jo Smith provide additional depth and firepower up front. The key is in the backcourt where Kadar Walker plays an important role.
Watch the National Prep Championships (semi-finals & championship game) -Thursday, March 12th LIVE on YurView NE (Cox Ch. 4) and streaming on YurView.com. Semi-final games start at 11:00 am ET and championship game at 7:00 pm ET.