Thanksgiving has come and gone, marking the annual beginning of the MIAA basketball season. HEA takes a close look at its alumni who compete in the Massachusetts public school league, as they prepare for the upcoming season. Our alumni are divided into divisions. HEA has alumni on the following ESPN Boston Top 25 teams:
#1. Springfield Putnam High School
#7. New Mission High School
#10. Springfield Central High School
#12. Newton North High School
#15. Melrose High School
#21. Taunton High School
The rich get richer, as defending Division 1 Champions Putnam Vocational High School (Springfield, MA) add a pair of HEA alumni in sophomores Tyonne Malone and Justin Stewart. Both transferred from nearby Williston Northampton School, and bring tremendous talent to the Beaver backcourt. Malone will slide to his more natural wing spot, utilizing his ability to slash to the hoop and rebound out of the backcourt. At 6’5″, Malone is a matchup nightmare in the MIAA, and will look to add to his already growing list of Division 1 scholarship offers. Stewart is a poised leader, who can play both guard spots and knock down shots with range. Look for both prospects to play a pivotal role in the defense of the Division 1 title.
Chris Baldwin returns to Central High School (Springfield, MA) for his junior season as the undisputed top collegiate prospect the MIAA has to offer regardless of class. The versatile 6’8″ forward is unbelievably talented, possessing the ability to score with his back to the basket as well as facing the hoop on the high post or perimeter. Baldwin will look to improve on a disappointing end to his sophomore season to rival Putnam in the Western Mass finals. Legendary coach Jack O’Brien is the new head coach at Central, and will be tasked with maximizing Baldwin’s potential in order for Central to regain the title it earned in 2012.
Keyshaad Dixon is one of the most underrated prospects in the state. Dixon is a 6’2″ combo guard entering his sophomore year at Braintree High School. Dixon can flat out score the basketball, and has devastating range. After leading Braintree to the Division 1 South quarterfinals, look for Dixon to solidify himself as one of the top guards in the MIAA regardless of class.
Jovani Harper came into his own late in the season for Charlestown High School. The versatile 6’4″ combo forward was a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season for the Townies. Look for Harper to solidify himself as one of the top young forwards in Eastern Mass, and will be called upon to provide consistent productivity in the front court throughout the season.
Isaiah McLeod will look to bring Cambridge Rindge and Latin School back to its winning tradition. The junior guard is the undisputed leader of this years Falcon squad. Perhaps the biggest boost to the Falcons is the addition of 5 HEA alumni entering their freshman year. This group includes lead guard Jakigh Dottin, versatile forward Daniel Rymer, and athletic wing Nathaniel Habtom. What the group lacks in experience they make up for in toughness, and they will be determined to make a run deep into the Division I tournament.
Devonte McCall and Paris Norwood form a duo of HEA alumni that will look to build on Amherst Regionals run to the Western Mass quarterfinals in 2013. McCall is versatile sophomore combo forward who can defend multiple positions, and is at his best as a face up four man. McCall is a willing rebounder and has an efficient midrange game. Norwood is a bruising forward who thrives in a physical game.
Jake Midura had a very productive freshman season for Chicopee High School. The 6’3″ wing will look to have an equally impressive sophomore campaign utilizing his tremendous range on his jumper, and added ability to put the ball on the floor to score at the rim.
Malik Bangura spent time on both the junior varsity and varsity squads as a freshman at Taunton High School. Entering his sophomore season, the 6’1″ guard is in line to see considerable playtime given his ability to play either guard spot. Bangura’s possess tremendous physical strength and athleticism on the wing. Combine that with his ability to slash to the hoop and shot with range.
Ben Murphy is a rising sophomore for Newton North High School. Murphy is a lunch pale type forward who brings a high energy level to the front court. Look for Murphy to be a steady contributor for a Tigers squad that made a trip to the Division 1 South semifinals in 2013.
Sherron Harris made a huge impact at Melrose High School as a freshman, starting at point guard during the schools surprise run to the Division 2 North semifinals in 2013. Harris is an athletic combo guard who is at his best on the break. Harris will have to take on more of a leadership role in his sophomore campaign for Melrose to make a run in this years tournament.
Jared Thorpe cracked the varsity lineup late last year for Reading Memorial High School. As a sophomore, Thorpe is poised to make an immediate impact for the varsity squad this year after making huge strides to his game in the offseason. Thorpe is an athletic combo forward who can shoot with range, plays tough defense, and has added the ability to attack off the dribble in the half court. Thorpe has also added an increased level of athleticism, finishing plays off at the rim with dunks.
Charles Mitchell and Charlie Mitchell both attend Boston Community Leadership Academy, and compete within the New Mission High School through the schools coop athletic program. Look for the Mitchell twins to start off on the junior varsity team, with the chance to make a push to join the varsity squad around tournament time. Both Mitchell twins are scrappy guards who can compete with any young guards in the state.
Michael Odiana is an athletic scoring guard who entering his freshman year at Dracut High School. Odiana has the overall physical strength and athleticism to make an immediate impact on the varsity level. Given his high character level, Odiana could be a cornerstone of the program moving forward.
Kendall Baldwin was a major contributor on a very successful season for Renaissance School, that saw them go 18-2 in the regular season, earn a #1 overall seed in the Division 3 Western Mass tournament, and a trip to the Western Mass semifinals. Baldwin had a productive AAU campaign playing up in age group, and turned heads at the Elite 75 Frosh/Soph Edition. Look for Baldwin to build off this momentum going into his sophomore season, and continue to solidify himself as one of the top young guards in Western Mass.
Brendan Hoban is an athletic combo guard who is entering his sophomore year at Watertown High School. Hoban possess the ability to knockdown shots with range, can finish on the break, and has the potential to play both guard spots. Look for Hoban to build on his successful freshman campaign, which saw Watertown High School reach the Division 3 North quarterfinals.
Solomon Abioye is an athletic shot blocker who has led a resurgence at Excel Academy (former South Boston High School). The rising junior helped lead his squad into postseason play with a trip to the Division 3 North tournament in 2013. With a more advanced skill set, including the ability to take slower defender off the dribble, look for Abioye to be a force in Division 3 MIAA play.
Michael Carangelo and Louis Ellis will look to provide Division 4 North champion Lynnfield High School with a boost to its basketball program, as its moves up to the Division 3 ranks. The freshmen duo excelled at HEA Elite Week over the summer. Carangelo is a versatile forward who can guard multiple positions, and is an efficient offensive player. Ellis is a tough competitor on defense, and can shoot with range.
Marcus Zegarowski and Max Zegarowski are entering their freshmen season at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. After making the Division 3 North tournament in 2013, Hamilton-Wenham will make the move to Division 4 this upcoming season. Marcus is a poised lead guard who is capable of facilitating an offense, and possess the ability to score when needed. Max is a floor spacing guard, who can knockdown shots with range.