For decades now, the state of Rhode Island has had one, and only one, dominant prep power.
Mike Hart’s St. Andrew’s squad has stood the test of time. They’ve won multiple NEPSAC championships and literally hundreds of games while producing college stars like Rakim Sanders, Tony Robertson, Michael Carter-Williams, and Cole Swider.
And while the Saints are still plugging along under Hart’s leadership, they suddenly have some company in the Ocean State with the emergence of a budding second prep powerhouse.
St. George’s School, nestled on the border of the Atlantic Ocean and the city of Newport, has been rapidly ascending in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down now.
A year ago they won the ISL championship, made it to the semifinals of the NEPSAC Class B tournament, and came within a possession of knocking off the AAA champions, New Hampton, earlier in the year.
They’re also doing it with a roster full of local products, which makes them somewhat rare in a prep school landscape which annually attracts not only the top local prospects, but also others from throughout the country and even the world, thanks to the boarding component of the institutions.
For St. George’s, everything starts with head coach Dwayne Pina.
A New Bedford native who played at Boston College, Pina then went on to spend over a decade coaching at the college level, all in the state of Rhode Island, going from Rhode Island College to Bryant and, most recently, to Brown.
Those experiences not only connected Pina to all of the local grassroots programs and feeder systems in the area, they also enabled him to develop relationship across grassroots lines, another rarity in prep school basketball.
So while the current St. George’s roster features mostly New England products, they come from a multitude of places and programs.
Last year’s senior class was led by Tyler Kolek, a Cumberland native who finished his career as the Gatorade Player of the Year and top ranked prospect in the state before moving on to George Mason.
The class also featured: Worcester native Sam Adusei, who went on to Brandeis; Lynn native George Ogenah, who went on to Skidmore; and Carter and Jayden Dummett from Marlboro who committed to Washington and Lee and Nova Southeastern respectively.
This year’s roster is led by a senior class featuring Dominic Mello (Wareham, MA), Makai Murray (Brockton, MA), and Ethan Augusto (Dartmouth, MA).
Mello is a playmaking lead guard with a knack for scoring the basketball. He’s already committed to, and signed with, Sacred Heart while Murray and Augusto are both being recruited heavily by high-academic small colleges.
— dominic (@kingmello6) November 11, 2020
Narragansett’s Miles Fiore is back in the class of 2022 and ready to take on an increased role this year thanks to his solid perimeter size and very high basketball I.Q. He also comes from a basketball family as his sisters are known hoopers as well.
One of the smartest, least celebrated, players you’ll find – 2022 Miles Fiore pic.twitter.com/T9MaNqm6xD
— NERR (@NERRHoops) October 24, 2020
Providence’s Jake Bender has joined the roster this year and will step into the role created by Kolek’s departure. He still has two years to play in his high school career but already has division I recruitment to his name, with Brown being one of his most notable early suitors.
That’s a list that’s only bound to get bigger before it gets smaller as Bender is a big guard at 6-foot-3 who shoots the ball at a high-level from behind the three-point line and has equally impressive bouncy athleticism at the rim.
— NERR (@NERRHoops) October 22, 2020
The best long-term prospect on the roster, and in fact one of the best long-term prospects in all of New England, is Taylor Bowen, who grew up in Vermont and is now being recruited by Providence and several other high-major programs.
— taylor bowen (@taylorbolbowen) October 16, 2020
Bowen is a jumbo wing in the making. He’s every bit of 6-foot-8 with fluid athleticism and playmaking ability off the bounce. In short, he’s the type of obvious talent that virtually anyone can pick-out, with potential that few others in the region can match.
Ryder Andersen and NeJohn Fortes are two other sophomores with very bright futures…and yes, local roots.
Andersen is from nearby Jamestown, Rhode Island and the son of former URI big man Mike Andersen. Ryder has tremendous size at an early age and the type of nasty streak (in a good way) that college coaches are going to love. He seeks out contact, plays through it, and has the rugged mentality to impact the game without needing to score points.
Fortes, who is originally from New Bedford, is probably the most improved player on the team.
He’s grown three inches since last year and gotten much more coordinated while simultaneously adding to his skill. That equates to a now bouncy 6-foot-7 forward who finishes above the rim with ease but can also play facing the basket from the perimeter.
— NERR (@NERRHoops) October 22, 2020
Davin Pandian is another sophomore with the potential to play at the next level while Alex Berry (Providence), Leon Corriera (New Bedford), and Barrett Loer (Millis) are three talented freshmen with bright futures.
In total, that’s 12 athletes that currently project as future college players, all of whom are originally from New England and currently getting recruited by colleges and universities from throughout the region as well.
In other words, it is now safe the say, there are two prep school powerhouses in the state of Rhode Island.