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  • Jared Exler

2020 17u AAU Season Previews: Middlesex Magic

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

*Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, AAU basketball competition has unfortunately been delayed. I’m still hoping for the best, and that these players will be able to get the opportunities they deserve to showcase their abilities at some point, whether that’s sometime in the mid to late Summer or even early Fall.

* The Middlesex Magic, run by Michael Crotty, has become an organization known for having players who take their books just as seriously as their basketball. As a result, Magic players are littered in the top college basketball academic conferences such as the Ivy, Patriot, and NESCAC. The Magic has become a program that coaches at all levels need to make a priority to watch because of the depth of talent not just on the top team, but the other teams as well. A perfect example of this is their class of 2020, which is set to send 29 players to play college basketball at all different levels next season.

Middlesex Magic HGSL Team: Competing in the Hoop Group Summer League, the Magic have proved to be the class of the league winning the last 3 titles. It's become evident that if any team wants a shot to win this league they will have to go through the Magic. The group that has been assembled this year certainly has the talent for the Magic to pull off the 4-peat.

Any team that wants to win a championship needs to have top level point guard play and this group has that with a two-headed monster in 5’10 Kurtis Henderson from Catholic Memorial and 5’11 Josh Bascoe from Vermont Academy. Henderson is a scoring point guard who is very tough to defend because of his deep range on his three-pointer to go along with his ability to finish at the rim with his strong body. Is very effective shooting the three off the dribble which, as a point guard in today’s age, is very critical with the spacing it provides. He loves to play through contact because of his strength and as a result he finishes his layups efficiently. While scoring is his forte, he is also a solid playmaker who gets his teammates involved both in transition and in the half court. Defensively, uses his strength and lateral quickness to limit his defenders from getting penetration on him. Also has good instincts on when to be aggressive defensively, which leads to steals and deflections. Would thrive in leagues like the America East and Patriot, where he currently has offers from Hartford and Bucknell. The other half of the point guard tandem is Bascoe. He uses his slick ball handling ability to get to his spots on offense to create both for himself and his teammates. Does a commendable job of finding the right balance of scoring and playmaking. Is a good player to play in pick and rolls as he consistently makes the right reads. If he’s left open from three or a defender goes under on a screen he will make you pay with his smooth shooting stroke. When he gets into the lane and a defender helps, he uses his outstanding playmaking ability to find shooters for open threes. Defensively, he uses his smaller frame to his advantage as he gets under his matchup to create steals but he’s also smart enough to know when not to be as aggressive. Would fit in similar leagues as Henderson, such as the Patriot and the America East, and has offers from Bucknell and UMBC.

Adding more shooting to this squad is 6’4 shooting guard George Smith from Brooks School. Smith has good size for an off guard which he uses to rise up over defenders, and has textbook shooting form which helps him make three-pointers at a very good rate. Is a strong ball handler which allows him to get his shot off from three off the bounce in addition to getting to his mid-range pull-up. Has great body control when finishing at the rim which allows him to finish at various angles efficiently. Defensively, he uses his height and basketball IQ to make it difficult for defenders to shoot over him as well as being in the right position on his rotations. Ivy/Patriot schools are a good fit for Smith, who already has offers from the following schools in those leagues: Penn, Brown, Holy Cross, and Dartmouth.

Bringing size is 6’9 stretch four Robbie Stankard from Phillips Exeter Academy. Stankard is exactly what you look for in a modern day stretch four with his size and pure shooting stroke. Defenders who don’t believe he can shoot like he can because of his size find out very quickly that’s not the case. Makes three-pointers effectively both from spotting up and pick-and-pops. Also does a nice job of getting proper position when posting up where he uses his soft touch to finish layups at a fantastic rate. He is also an underrated passer who finds the open man if defenders help on him. Defensively, his understanding of where to be on rotations, and willingness to take charges, can create momentum swings for his team. Would like to see him become more physical when going for rebounds when blocking out, and that’s an area he will have an opportunity to improve. Recently picked up his first offer from Columbia and more offers like that should be coming in as he’s a guy who Ivy/Patriot schools need to be taking a closer look at this next year.

Playing next to Stankard in the frontcourt is 6’9 power forward Aidan Godfrey from Cheshire Academy. Godfrey is a player who has shown flashes of what his potential could be, but he just hasn’t put it all together yet. Has a very nice shooting stroke for a player of his size which he can get off with ease because of his height. Also can put it on the floor at times and get to the rim from the wing. Finishes well at the rim, particularly when he uses the backboard. Defensively, he uses his height to block shots and does a good job of keeping his hands up straight to stay out of foul trouble. Has a similar game to Stankard but just needs to use his skills more consistently game in and game out to be the player he is capable of being. This past season was Godfrey’s first year in the NEPSAC after playing at Cheshire High School so the experience of playing against elevated competition will benefit him for AAU. Expect NE-10 schools to show heavy interest because of his shooting ability for his size. If he can show he can be a four man who can make threes as well as defend and rebound against more athletic big men, Ivy/Patriots should start checking him out closer.

A teammate of Smith’s at Brooks who is also on this squad is 6’1 shooting guard Matt Mulvey. Mulvey continues with the trend of shooters on this squad as he shoots it at a high rate whether spotting up, coming off screens, or shooting off the dribble. Can shoot it from NBA range when he’s hot. When defenders close out hard on him he can put it on the floor and finish either with a floater or nifty layups. Would be an impact guy in a D2 league like the NE-10 but has the opportunity to pick up more D1 offers like the one he just picked up from Umass-Lowell if he can show he can play on the ball more and run an offense.

Bringing size at the wing position is 6’8 Lucas McEachern who is Stankard’s teammate at Phillips Exeter. McEachern is another floor spacer on this squad with his ability to shoot from three-point range with ease. Excels at hitting threes from a teammate driving and kicking to him. Has shown flashes of being able to put the ball on the floor and create for himself and others with his ball handling. Is very unselfish and has no problem making the extra pass to get the best possible shot for his team. Can also finish at the rim where he’s adept at finding the correct angles on the backboard to finish. Currently holds an offer from the University of New Hampshire and should continue to receive offers from America East schools once AAU play resumes. Could play his way up to getting looks from a conference like the CAA and MAAC if he can show he can take his ball handling to the next level to consistently make plays off the dribble, in addition to gaining strength.

There are also 4 very talented 2022 players who will be adding to the quality of this team. Those players are Jack Morissette, Will Batchelder, Dom Campbell, and Brady Cummins. Morissette is another player from Phillips Exeter who is a 6’4 shooting guard. Brings good size as an off guard. What stands out the most about his game is his elite shooting ability. Can make threes in all different types of ways with a very quick release. Counters his potent shooting ability with a mid-range pull up and the ability to finish on both sides of the rim on layups. Defensively, uses his lateral quickness to limit dribble penetration as well as his good size to make it difficult for his matchup to shoot over him. Already has an offer from the University of New Hampshire and he should gain more offers from the America East in the future; in addition, Ivy and Patriot league schools should keep a close eye on his development. Giving this squad more depth at the point guard spot is 6’1 Will Batchelder from The Governor’s Academy. Batchelder is a floor general who has shifty ball handling skills which make him extremely tough to stay in front of when you add in his quick first step and deep range on his shot. Can stop on a dime and pull up from three with his quick and compact release. Also a player who makes his teammates better with his playmaking ability. Very rarely turns the ball over. He knows the correct spots to be in when he’s defending in the half court. Will need to improve his strength to be able to make an impact defensively at the next level. One who should be an Ivy/Patriot league priority in the coming years.

Adding beef inside is 6’9 stretch four Dom Campbell who will be attending Phillips Exeter next year after playing at Waynflete School last year in Maine. Campbell is a player who can play on the outside because of his shooting ability or on the inside because of how he creates position for post-ups. Is an ideal player to run a pick-and-pop within an offense. In the post he likes to use a drop step on the right side to score. Defensively, he takes a lot of pride in rebounding which he shows with his effort and consistency in boxing out. Also understands how to play defense without fouling by keeping his hands straight up. Currently holds offers from Boston University, McNeese State, and Central Connecticut State, and schools in those conferences can be expected to continue pursuing him. Schools in the CAA and MAAC could also begin to pursue Campbell if he improves his body and gets into better shape, which will help him play for longer periods on the court in addition to becoming a better athlete. Another player from Maine who is coming to this team and reclassifying to 2022 is 6’5 shooting guard Brady Cummins who will be attending Brooks School next year. Cummins is an intriguing prospect who should raise his profile once AAU starts up again. Cummins brings outstanding positional size to go with his long arms and is a player who plays above the rim with his great athleticism. Is a pure scorer who has a consistent three-point stroke, a nice mid-range pull-up, and the skill to finish creatively around the rim with his explosiveness. Defensively, he uses his long arms to get into passing lanes for steals and deflections and uses his athleticism to get rebounds. Just recently received his first offer from Bryant but expect mid-major schools in leagues such as the CAA and the MAAC to become interested in him when AAU resumes. Has the potential to play his way up to the A-10 level if he can strengthen his body in the weight room in addition to proving himself to be a standout player against higher levels of competition with Brooks and the Magic.

With all due respect to the many other talented teams in the HGSL, this team looks to be the preseason favorite. Notwithstanding the fact that the Magic have won the past three HGSL titles, this year’s group has size at every position, and there isn’t one player who can be left open from three. With their reputation of being a team that always makes their opponents work hard with their ferocious ball movement and defense, they will be a very difficult challenge for any team in the HGSL.

* As mentioned before, the Middlesex Magic are a program that is much more than one team. Their other teams coached by Tell White and Lambros Papalambros have some very talented players that have the ability to be solid contributors at the collegiate level.

Middlesex Magic- Coach Tell White:

Drew Sachs is a 6’1 shooting guard from The Governor's Academy who has had a very accomplished career so far as he went over 1000 points as a junior this season. He’s a knockdown three-point shooter with a career percentage of 42% in high school. Makes threes just as effectively off screens as he does spotting up. Leverages his ability to shoot well by also being able to put the ball on the floor and finish with a floater off the glass. Defensively, he is active with his hands to create steals and deflections which turn his defense into easy offense. Schools in the NEWMAC and CCC need to pay close attention to Sachs.

Bringing a steady hand at point guard for this squad is 6’1 Matt Price from Kimball Union Academy. Price is a player who knows how to run a team with his leadership and playmaking abilities. Has the uncanny ability to raise his teammates’ level of play around him. Also makes plays with his ability as a shotmaker from long range with his quick and compact form. Certainly a player who cannot be left open. Uses his slick ball handling to weave his way into the lane to make plays for himself at the rim with creative finishes in addition to finding open shooters when the defense collapses. One who NESCAC and NEWMAC schools should look at closely this year as a future leader of their program.

6’4 Cristian Rios from Malden Catholic gives this squad quality size as a combo guard. Rios can fill it up from the wing whether that’s from making threes or getting to the rim and finishing with his soft touch on layups. His size and fluid release allow him to get his three-pointer off very easily. When defenders play up on him he’s quick enough to get by them with his first step and ball handling. Can also function as the point guard in certain situations because of his ball handling and playmaking abilities. Defensively, he uses his height to make it difficult to shoot over him and he understands his rotations well. A player who NESCACs and NEWMACs should make a priority this year. Could start to gain some attention from D2s in a league like the NE-10 with some strong performances in AAU or high school which show his diverse skill set to go with his size.

Adding winning pedigree is Matt McGuire, a 6’4 shooting guard from 2020 state champion Abington. McGuire is a player who thrives off of ball movement. He waits for his precise moment when the defense is off guard and leaves him open to let it rip from three-point range, where he hits at a very high rate. He makes his threes efficiently both spotting up and on the move. While shooting the long ball is his strong suit, he is also able to keep defenders off balance when they close out too hard with his finishing ability at the rim. Defensively, he’s a smart player who has a good grasp of when to be aggressive and when to stand pat. Would fit well in leagues like the NESCAC and NEWMAC.

Adding more shooting to this squad is 5’11 combo guard James McGowan from Westwood. Coming off a standout high school season where he was the Tri-Valley League MVP, McGowan is a player who flat out gets it done from long range. Not an easy guard because of how he can make threes spotting up, coming off screens, or making moves off the dribble. He is much more than a shooter, though, as his quick first step along with his creative finishes allow him to get into the lane and finish at the rim. Has also shown he can play the point guard position at various points as he’s a good enough ball handler and playmaker to occasionally shoulder that responsibility. Schools in the NESCAC and NEWMAC should be keeping tabs on McGowan as a future floor spacer for their program.

A player who will bring more scoring punch on this squad is 6’4 shooting guard Ben Kaczmarek from St. Sebastian’s. Kaczmarek is a three level scorer who, as a result, is a tough cover. When defenders think they have taken away his dynamic three-point ability by playing him tightly he makes them pay with his mid-range pull-up or his array of finishing moves at the rim. Defensively, he is a sound player who uses his length to alter opposing players' shots as well as jumping into passing lanes for steals or deflections. Should be a NESCAC and NEWMAC priority but could gain attention from the NE-10 with a string of consistent performances this AAU season.

Middlesex Magic-Coach Lambros Papalambros:

A floor general for this squad is 6’0 Ty Murphy from Xaverian. Murphy is a very good ball handler and playmaker who can find his teammates in a variety of ways, including drop-offs, cross-court passes, or on pick and rolls. Takes care of the ball and limits his turnovers. Should not be left open from three-point range as he’s proficient in that area with the ability to get his shot off in a very tight window. Defensively, he uses his high basketball IQ to decipher the right moments to go for steals. Will need to get stronger to be prepared for the college level. Look for schools in the CCC and LEC to be tracking his progress this next year.

Adding excellent size on the wing is 6’6 Noah Helmke from Berkshire School. Helmke has a strong body which he uses to get to the rim to finish with his soft touch to go with his reliable three-point shot. Also has the ability to play above the rim in certain situations. Uses his playmaking ability to find open teammates spotting up for three-pointers or cutting for layups. Defensively, along with his strength, he moves well laterally which makes it difficult to score on him. Should be a priority for D3 schools in the NESCAC and NEWMAC and expect D2 schools in the NE-10 to become more familiar with him when AAU picks up again.

One of the top scorers in Massachusetts this year, Trent Mosquera gives this squad a multidimensional player. He is a 6’4 combo guard who played this past high school season at Wachusett and will be attending Belmont Hill School next year while moving into the class of 2022. Brings excellent size for a combo guard in addition to being a very good athlete who can play above the rim. He is a three level scorer who has a superb stroke from long range both spotting up and off the dribble, a middle game with his pull-up and floater, as well as using nifty finishes at the rim. Sees plays before they happen with his passing ability and has the vision to thread the needle which creates high percentage shots for his teammates. Defensively, he uses his size and athleticism to create steals and deflections as well as being difficult to shoot over. It’s surprising he doesn’t have any D2 offers right now. If he carries his momentum from this past high school season into this AAU season, and at a higher level of competition in high school with Belmont Hill, expect Ivy and Patriot league schools to get involved with him.

Another option at the point guard position is 6’0 Tim Reidy from Needham. Reidy is a pesky defender who makes his teammates better with his playmaking ability. Defensively, he gets under defenders and has a good grasp of how to use his hands to create steals and deflections. Is quick laterally which helps him to keep his matchup in front of him consistently. Uses his playmaking ability well, especially in transition, to find teammates for open threes and layups. Has a smooth stroke from behind the arc which forces the defense to play tight defense on him at all times. He can take advantage of this by getting in the lane with his quickness to finish creatively. Similar to Murphy, expect schools in the CCC and LEC to be at many of his games in the near future.

Bringing elite shooting ability to this squad is 6’4 shooting guard Jack Richard from Rivers School. Richard has good size for his position which he uses to rise up over defenders to quickly get his shot off. If he’s given an inch to get his three-pointer off he will make the defense pay. Defensively, while not a standout and not the most athletic, he makes the most of his abilities by using his high basketball IQ so that he’s not a liability. Will need to further develop as a ball handler to show he can create more for himself and that he has other dimensions in his game than just being an elite shooter. Shooters of his caliber and size are valuable commodities and as a result, NESCAC and NEWMAC schools should be keeping in touch with him.

Another intriguing player on this squad is 6’4 wing Jacob Gibbons from Exeter HS (NH). Gibbons makes a significant impact defensively because of his length as he time and time again jumps into passing lanes to create steals and deflections. Offensively, he has the ability to get a rebound and push the ball up the floor with his ball handling to either set up the offense or make a play in transition. Finishes very efficiently at the rim to complement his ability to flash into the mid-post and hit a mid-range jumper. D3s in the CCC and LEC need to keep their eye out for Gibbons this coming year. Could get some NESCAC schools to start showing interest if he can show more confidence and success in his three-point shot.

Copyright © 2020 Jared Exler, All rights reserved.

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