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  • Jared Exler

2020 17u AAU Season Previews: Crown Basketball, NY Lightning Select

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Crown Basketball (NY)

This squad is headlined by one of the biggest stock risers on the East Coast the past few months in 6’7 wing Sean Durugordon who will be attending Putnam Science Academy (CT) next year. What stands out immediately when seeing Durugordon play are his elite physical tools for his position with his height and 7-foot wingspan. He is also a great athlete who consistently plays above the rim. He can score at all three levels using his smooth stroke from three-point range particularly while spotting up, a mid-range game with his pull-up, and crafty finishes at the rim using both hands. Defensively, he uses his height and length to be a menace by constantly jumping into passing lanes for steals or coming off the help side to block an opponent’s shot at the rim. Also possesses impressive lateral quickness which only adds to his defensive ability as opponents have a difficult time getting dribble penetration on him. Has certainly proved to be a legitimate high major talent and picked up his first offer at that level in April from DePaul. More high major offers have come in since April from Penn State, Seton Hall, and Georgia. Although not ranked in the Top 150 of any of the major services, Durugordon is a Top-100 caliber player, so expect high major offers to continue to pour in for Durugordon as AAU picks up again and he continues to become more of a national name.

Adding firepower next to Durugordon is 6’4 shooting guard T.J. Long who will be attending Canterbury School (CT) next year. Long was one of the top shooters in the state of New York this past season as he made the most three pointers on Long Island playing for Holy Trinity. He’s a southpaw who has a lightning quick release and is just as comfortable coming off of screens shooting as he is spotting up. When he’s feeling it he can easily shoot from the NBA line with proficiency. Has shown he’s much more than just a three-point shooter as he has an in-between game with his pull-up and floater along with the ability to make defenders pay when they overplay him by backdoor cutting for easy layups. Defensively, while not a standout, he uses his size and high basketball IQ so that he’s not a liability and moves to the correct spots when making his rotations. A player who Ivy and Patriot league schools should be keeping a close eye on this next year.

Providing beef inside is 6’9 power forward Nick Spinoso who will also be teammates with Long next season at Canterbury. Spinoso has good coordination for his size which allows him to move to different areas all over the court efficiently and, along with his impressive ball handling, he is able to take opponents off the dribble and finish at the rim with his soft touch. Likes to use a spin move when posting up, which has been a very productive way for him to get easy buckets. Also has impressive playmaking ability for a player his size, as he finds teammates cutting for layups or spotting up for three-pointers. Defensively, he does a good job of keeping his hands up straight to stay out of foul trouble in addition to using his physicality to secure rebounds. He also does a good job making defensive rotations astutely. Has current offers from Albany and New Hampshire in the America East and other schools in that conference can be expected to offer him. Has the potential to gain attention from CAA and MAAC schools if he can show he can make three pointers at a higher volume to be considered a legitimate stretch four as well as proving he can defend more athletic players his size both in AAU and next year playing in the NEPSAC.

Giving this squad more strength inside with Spinoso is 6’5 power forward Jaden Kealey from Center Moriches HS. Kealey is a player who embraces physicality whether that’s getting a rebound, taking a charge, or finishing through contact. Also a good athlete who loves to play above the rim when receiving alley-oops. He’s an outstanding rebounder who averaged 11 per game this past high school season. His success in rebounding stems from wanting the rebound more than his opponent and using his strength to his advantage when boxing out. If an opponent is driving recklessly through the lane Kealey will make him pay by holding his ground and taking a charge. Will be able to guard multiple positions in college because of his superb lateral quickness. Also is savvy understanding when is the right time to jump into passing lanes for steals. Offensively, the majority of his points come at the rim from drives out of the mid-post, drop-offs from teammates, or getting putbacks from offensive rebounds. Consistently finishes around the rim at a high percentage with his strength and soft touch on his layups. A player who should be a SUNYAC priority in D3 with the potential to get more D2 attention in a league like the ECC if he can develop his ball handling and three-point shooting skills to be a legitimate wing player.

An intriguing player that plays both the small forward and point guard positions for this squad is 6’5 Ahmad Crowell from Manhasset HS. Crowell brings exceptional size when playing on the ball as well as being a good athlete who can play above the rim. Balances scoring and getting his teammates involved with his playmaking very well. Unselfish player who loves to create easy looks for his teammates. He’s a reliable finisher at the rim with his strength and athleticism who doesn’t shy away from contact. Has also proven to be a good enough three-point shooter who can’t be left open. Defensively, he uses his strength and willpower to want the ball to secure tough rebounds, in addition to using his athleticism to block opponents’ shots when they go for layups. A player who D2s in the ECC should be taking a hard look at. Has the potential to play his way into getting serious attention from D1 schools in the MEAC and NEC if he can show he can be a full time point guard by taking his ball handling and ability to run a team to the next level.

Bringing more scoring punch to this squad is 6’1 combo guard Teddy Mangiarotti from Westminster School (CT). Mangiarotti was one of the top scorers in NEPSAC Class B this season averaging 23 points a game. What first catches your eye when watching Mangiarotti play is his ability to shoot the ball off the dribble from three-point range. Uses his slick handle when playing on the ball to make three-pointers both using ball screens and isolation moves to knock down his shots efficiently off the bounce. When playing off the ball he comes off screens just as effectively to make three-pointers. Has outstanding body control when finishing at the rim which creates angles for him to score effectively in this regard. While scoring is his strong suit, he’s shown to be a reliable secondary playmaker who can make his teammates better when opponents give him too much attention. Defensively, he has a good understanding of when to pick which spots to be aggressive as he showed by averaging 2 steals per game this past high school season. While he knows when to be aggressive, he also understands when it’s smarter to be content with just playing defense straight up and sliding his feet to force his opponent into a tough shot. A top notch student, D3 schools in the NESCAC should be tracking Mangiarotti this coming year as a player who can immediately provide high level shot-making for their program. D2 schools in the NE-10 could begin to pursue him more closely if he can show his game can translate to team success both on the 17u HGSL circuit and in the NEPSAC.

A quality option at the point guard spot on this squad is 6’1 Aidan Rodgers from Hotchkiss School (CT). Rodgers is a pesky defender who creates opportunities for his team to get easy buckets with his ability to jump into the passing lanes or rip opponents when they’re loose with their handle. Also uses his lateral quickness to limit opponents from getting into the lane. Offensively, he does an admirable job of balancing scoring and playmaking for his teammates. If the defense leaves him open from long range he will make them pay with his steady shooting stroke. While the long ball is the best part of his offensive game, he’s also proven to be able to score in the mid-range with his pull-up and creative finishes at the rim. Is adept at using his playmaking off of dribble penetration to find teammates for open shots when defenders help on him. Would fit well in D3 leagues like the Liberty League or NEWMAC.

Adding more shooting is 5’11 combo guard Luke Rossi from St. Anthony’s and 6’2 shooting guard Brent Bland from Half Hollow Hills West. Rossi has textbook form on his three-pointer to go along with deep range. Very effective shooting three-pointers spotting up in addition to using his handle in order to create space to get his shot off. When opponents overplay him to take away his three-ball he has the quickness to get into the lane and finish using floaters or finger-rolls off the glass. He is a sound player defensively who understands where to be on his rotations and always gives a valiant effort despite his physical limitations. Will need to gain strength and further develop his playmaking ability to reach his potential as a player. Expect D3 schools in the CUNYAC and Skyline to be tracking his progression. Bland needs very little time and space to get his three-pointer off which he makes at a good percentage. Picks his spots well to make it easy for teammates to kick out to him for three-pointers. When teammates drive to the basket from the wing and the defense helps, Bland consistently gets open threes by knowing to spot up in the opposite corner for the kick out. While he’s shown flashes of being able to get to the rim and have a middle game with his floater and pull-up, he will need to take the next step in that area to become a more well rounded scorer. Would be a good fit for D3 schools in the Empire 8 or SUNYAC.

NY Lightning Select

An intriguing 2022 playing up on this team is 6’10 combo forward Peter Carey who will be attending Northfield Mount Hermon School (MA) next year. The first thing that stands out when watching Carey play is how fluid he moves for somebody his size. He runs the floor like a gazelle which leads to easy buckets for him in transition. His ball handling is impressive as he has the ability at times to start a break on his own after getting a rebound by pushing the ball in transition himself to either finish on his own or create a shot for a teammate. His great court sense allows him to use his size to see over defenders and find open teammates with his passing. Uses his athleticism to dunk in transition and off drop-off passes in the halfcourt consistently. Prefers facing up on offense to either use his handle to get by his defender to finish at the rim with his soft touch or make the defense pay when they give him too much space to get his mid-range jumper off. Has also shown flashes of being able to shoot the ball from three-point range. Defensively, he uses his 7’1 wingspan along with his athleticism to protect the rim for his team by blocking shots or simply standing straight up. While not the strongest player, he still makes a significant impact rebounding the ball because of his size and mindset of wanting the ball. Recently picked up his first D1 offer from Bryant. I expect Carey to at the least become an Ivy and Patriot league priority. Has the upside to get high major schools checking him out closely if he can develop into a consistent three-point shooter who can’t be left open, in addition to gaining muscle mass so he can continue to be an impact player defensively at higher levels.

Manning the point guard spot is 6’5 Jacob Daly from Kent School (CT). Daly is a true point guard who elevates the play of his teammates around him with his playmaking. Can make a variety of plays with pinpoint accuracy such as bounce passes on backdoor cuts, cross-court passes to teammates for open threes, hitting the roll man on screens, and alley-oops. Strong ball handler who rarely turns it over as well. Always thinks pass first, but makes opponents’ respect his offense as he can’t be left open from three, and he also finishes at the rim at a high rate using extraordinary body control. Defensively, he’s a smart player who takes pride playing that side of the ball. Is quick on his defensive rotations, specifically on the help side, and it is difficult for opponents to shoot over Daly because of his size. A player who D2 schools in the ECC and NE-10 should be watching closely as a future floor general for their program. Could begin to get Ivy and Patriot schools to pursue him more intensely if he can show his game translates into wins for his team on the 17u HGSL circuit and more consistent team success in the NEPSAC.

Bringing size at the small forward spot is 6’7 Pierce Prendergast from Loomis Chaffee School (CT). Prendergast has good height and length for his position as well as being a solid athlete who plays above the rim. Offensively, he does his damage primarily at the rim off of drives from the wing, rolling when setting screens, or getting offensive rebounds. Defensively, he uses his athleticism to block opponents’ shots both from three-point range as well as at the rim. Despite his lack of strength, he rebounds the ball well because he knows how to get good position to go along with his explosiveness. Currently would be a very good fit at the D2 level in a league like the NE-10. Could play his way up to hearing from Ivy and Patriot league schools if he can take his ball handling and shooting to the next level to become more of a creator off the bounce for himself and teammates along with becoming more of a legitimate floor spacer from deep.

Adding more size on the wing is 6’6 Brendan Mykalcio who will be prepping at Loomis Chaffee (CT) after a strong high school season this past year with Don Bosco Prep (NJ). Mykalcio brings solid athleticism to go with his size which allows him to play above the rim. Also a consistent three-point shooter with deep range both from spotting up and on the move. Uses his instincts to get in the right spots for offensive rebounds which result in tip-ins or put-backs. Cuts and moves very well without the ball which leads to easy layups for him. Defensively, uses his size and athleticism to make opponents’ have to work hard against him to create offense. Excellent rebounder who enjoys getting physical in the paint when boxing out to get the ball for his team. Would be an instant impact player in D2 leagues like the ECC and NE-10. Ivy and Patriot schools could become more heavily involved if he can improve his ball handling to the point where he can make more plays consistently off the dribble for himself and teammates.

6’6 combo forward Ansley Almonor who will be playing at Our Savior Lutheran this next year provides a versatile game for this squad. Has a smooth shooting stroke from the three-point line when spotting up in addition to proficiently making jumpers when flashing to the free throw line. Is a reliable finisher at the rim with his strong body and soft touch on layups. Underrated playmaker who uses his size to see over defenders to create good looks for teammates. Defensively, is a very good rebounder because of his strength and ability to get an advantageous position on his opponents when a shot goes up. Also consistently keeps his hands up straight to alter opponents’ shots which keeps him out of foul trouble. Would be a good fit in a D2 league like the ECC. Has the potential to get low D1 looks if he can improve his ball handling enough to become a true wing in addition to proving he can guard more athletic players his size.

Adding to the trend of big wings on this squad is 6’6 Aidan Horan who will be attending Avon Old Farms (CT) in the Fall after playing at Nichols School in Buffalo last year. Horan is able to get his three-ball off with ease because of his size and quick release which he makes at a good rate. When opponents overplay him at the three-point line he can use that to his advantage with his quick first step which allows him to get to the foul line where he loves to use his mid range pull-up. Finishes at the rim efficiently with his athleticism where he can play above the rim and his strength allows him to score through contact. Also a solid ball handler for his size and a good passer who finds his open teammates when defenders collapse on him. Defensively, he’s a consistent rebounder who loves doing the dirty work inside and he makes it difficult for defenders to shoot over him because of his size. Should be a priority for D2s in a league like the NE-10. Could play his way into getting Ivy and Patriot league schools more heavily involved if he can show he can be a standout playing at higher levels on the 17u HGSL circuit as well as in the NEPSAC.

Jack Lerner is a 6’7 wing from Northfield Mount Hermon who had an unfortunate shoulder injury that limited him this past high school season. He is a versatile defender who uses his size and length to guard both wing spots effectively. Moves well laterally in addition to being in the right spots for help defense. Offensively, he has good form on his shot which he gets off easily with his size. He’s a player who D2s in the NE-10 should keep a close eye on this next year. Could play his way into getting Ivy and Patriot league schools more interested if he can show he can take on an increased role at NMH this next high school season.

Reece Clark, a 6’4 wing from Northfield Mount Hermon, brings excellent shooting from the outside for this squad. Excels at spotting up, making opponents pay on drive and kicks. Has a high release on his shot and needs very little space to get it off. Defensively, he’s an intelligent player who gives a valiant effort both on making rotations and limiting his opponents from getting dribble penetration. A player who D3 schools in the NESCAC should be in contact with. Could gain some D2 attention in a league like the NE-10 if he can consistently show on the 17u HGSL circuit that he’s more than a shooter by getting to the rim off the bounce and also be counted on as a secondary ball handler.

Adding to the point guard depth on this squad is 5’10 Brett Hutchison who played this past season at Notre Dame HS (CT) and will be attending Canterbury School (CT) in the fall as a post-grad. Hutchison is a smooth shooter from three-point range with a quick trigger. Counters his three-ball with a steady pull-up in the mid-range. Also a solid playmaker who can run a team and excels at finding teammates off of dribble penetration. Defensively, he uses his size to his advantage by getting under defenders to create steals when they’re loose with their handle as well as having the quickness to jump into passing lanes. Moves laterally effectively which limits opponents’ from getting into the lane on him. Will need to continue developing his body in the weight room to maximize his physical profile. In addition to his game, he’s been a consistent winner throughout his career on high level teams and as a result, D3 schools in the NESCAC should be following Hutchison closely this coming year.

Bringing high level shooting to this squad is 6’1 combo guard Quinn Guth from Kimball Union Academy. Guth has textbook form on his shot to go with a quick release which has translated into him making three-pointers at a high percentage. Makes threes just as effectively on the move as he does spotting up. Counters his shooting with crafty finishing ability at the rim to score against bigger defenders. While he’s best playing off the ball because of his shooting, he has shown the capability to play point guard occasionally with his ball handling and playmaking. Schools in D3 leagues like the Liberty League or NEWMAC should be keeping in contact with Guth.

Sam Pohlman is a 6’1 point guard from Beacon HS who does an admirable job of finding the correct balance of getting his own buckets and creating opportunities for his teammates with his passing. Very good shooter from long distance with range out to the NBA line when he’s hot. Uses his shifty ball handling to get into the paint to finish creatively at the rim in addition to finding open teammates for three-pointers or layups when the defense collapses on him. Is just as effective a playmaker in the halfcourt as he is in transition. Defensively, he has no problem putting his body out there to take charges, using his basketball IQ to calculate the proper time to either hold his ground in the lane or draw the charge when the opposing ball handler elbows him. D3 schools in the CUNYAC and Skyline should become familiar with Pohlman.

Copyright © 2020 Jared Exler, All rights reserved.

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