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  • Jared Exler

2020 17u AAU Season Previews: Rise Above Basketball (MA)

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Rise Above Basketball (MA)

Bringing very good size as a wing for this squad is 6’5 Sam Stevens who played this past season at Mansfield HS and will be prepping next season at Williston Northampton School. Stevens is a superb three-point shooter, making them at a high rate on spot-ups and coming off of screens. His quick release to go with his size helps him get his shot off effortlessly. When opponents close out on him hard because of his shooting, he has the ability to get to the rim and finish with both hands proficiently. Defensively, while Stevens is not particularly quick laterally, he uses his high basketball IQ to be in the right spots on his rotations to make opponents' shots as difficult as possible. Good rebounder who uses his size and understands how to get position when boxing out. Averaged 6 rebounds per game this past high school season. An elite student who D2s in a league like the NE-10 should be keeping tabs on as a potential floor spacer for their programs. Has the potential to get Ivy and Patriot League schools to show more interest if he can improve his ball handling to become a legitimate secondary ball handler in an offense as well as prove he can guard more athletic opponents with Rise Above and in the NEPSAC.

Matt Boen is a 6’1 point guard from Mansfield HS who is coming off a very strong high school season, making the Boston Herald All Scholastic Team. Boen is a southpaw who is an impressive three-point shooter making threes spotting up and off the dribble. He complements his potent three with his quick first step he uses to get to the rim and finish efficiently in tight spaces. Is also a solid playmaker who finds teammates cutting for layups and spotting up for three-pointers. Defensively, he makes a significant impact rebounding the ball despite his frame. He is adept at gauging where the ball will come off the rim and has a strong desire to beat his opponent for the rebound. Also has shown a great effort to get back and stop opponents from scoring layups in transition to either alter or block shots. A player who should be a priority for D3 schools in the MASCAC. Could get D2 schools to show more intense interest if he can prove with Rise Above he can be a standout on both sides of the ball playing against more athletic players than he faces in high school.

Bring outstanding defensive effort and playmaking ability to this squad is 5’9 point guard Nick Johnson from Rivers School. He was ISL Defensive Player of the Year this past high school season. Johnson is a player who frustrates opponents with his ferocious on ball defense. He consistently causes offenses to go out of sync by taking away passing angles for opposing point guards. Opponents also have to work very hard to get past him because he’s very quick laterally. Has very good instincts with his hands to take the ball away from opponents when they’re weak with their handle. Offensively, he makes his team better with his playmaking, finding teammates for drop-offs next to the rim and three-pointers off his dribble penetration. Averaged 7 assists per game this past high school season. Very good ball handler who takes care of the ball. Has proven to be a player who can’t be left open from three-point range, as he can score both spotting up and shooting off the dribble. Despite his small stature, he finishes at a good rate at the rim using slick body control and finishing ability off the glass. A very good student who D3 schools in the NESCAC and NEWMAC should be tracking this coming year.

Adding physicality in the frontcourt for this squad is 6’6 power forward Tyler Stewart from Taunton HS. Stewart is a player who does the majority of his work on offense in the paint. When he posts up he uses a drop-step that he finishes strongly with. Does a commendable job of creating advantageous positions when posting up to give him better angles to score. Also has very good hands and can catch tough passes in the post. Tremendous offensive rebounder who gets easy second chance points for his team because of his effort. Can make free-throw line jumpers which comes in handy particularly when playing against a zone defense. Defensively, he’s a monster on the glass averaging close to 14 rebounds per game this past high school season. He consistently seeks out contact with a wide stance on his box outs which makes it difficult for opponents to get around him for rebounds. Also consistently keeps his hands up straight to stay out of foul trouble when altering or blocking opponents’ shots. A very good student in the classroom who D3s in the CCC and NEWMAC should be in contact with this coming year. Could get NESCAC schools to show stronger interest if he can work on his three-point shooting and make it a legitimate weapon in his offensive arsenal to become a stretch four.

Adding another floor spacer to this squad is 6’4 shooting guard Steven Woods from Hingham HS. Woods has great form on his jump shot along with a quick release. Excellent shooter who consistently makes three-pointers spotting up, on the move, and off the dribble while being able to convert them with very little space. While three-point shooting is his strength, he’s shown flashes of being able to make a mid-range pull-up or floater as alternative ways to score when defenders close out hard on him . Defensively, he makes a notable impact on the glass with his rebounding ability. Despite not having great leaping ability, he averaged over 6 rebounds per game this past high school season by putting an emphasis on getting a body on opponents when boxing out. He also understands the right moments to jump into passing lanes for steals which create easy points for his team. A very good student who D3 schools in the CCC and NEWMAC should be keeping an eye on this coming year. Could get NESCAC schools to show more interest if he can get stronger and prove he can finish at the rim at a higher volume.

Declan Markey is a 6’2 shooting guard from Bishop Stang who has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. He’s a lefty who has compact form on his shot to go with a quick release. Efficiently shoots three-pointers both spotting up and coming off of screens. Has a nice mid-range pull-up in addition to a soft touch on his layups to round out his scoring arsenal. Markey gives just as much effort on the defensive side of the ball. He Is consistently in the right spots on his rotations. Instinctively jumps into passing lanes at the right moments which allowed him to average near 2 steals per game this past high school season. Also rebounds well for his size, using good fundamentals when boxing out. A player who excels in the classroom as well. Would be a good fit in D3 leagues like the CCC and NEWMAC.

Ben Kelsey is a 6’4 small forward from Pomfret School (CT). Kelsey has proven to be a legitimate three-point threat particularly when spotting up. He has good form on his shot, keeping his elbow in, which allows the ball to stay straight off his hands. Also finishes layups effectively in the halfcourt off drop-offs and in transition when he runs the floor. Defensively, he has solid lateral quickness which forces opponents to work hard to get by him. He also is consistently in the correct spots when rotating to be in position for help defense. Has a high motor on the glass going for rebounds which helps him snag tough rebounds. A player who D3s in leagues like the CCC and LEC should be getting familiar with this upcoming year.

Another outstanding rebounder on this squad is 6’4 combo forward Andrew Rocci from Hanover HS. Rocci is a player who can play both inside and out. He has a smooth stroke from three-point range when spotting up and can also get to the rim and finish efficiently with his strength and soft touch. Defensively, he is a high level rebounder, averaging 10 rebounds per game this past high school season. Rocci goes after the ball with great determination and believes he will come down with the rebound on every shot. Consistently demonstrates the willingness to put his body on the line to take charges, where he does a good job of timely putting his body in the set position. A player who would be a good fit in a D3 league like the GNAC.

An intriguing 2023 playing two years up on this squad is 5’11 point guard Gavin Carter from Milton Academy. Carter played a key role for Milton as just a freshman, being one of the first guys off the bench. He’s a southpaw who showed a nice balance of scoring and playmaking for his teammates. Carter can’t be left open from three-point range as he’s very proficient in that area, especially when spotting up. Has also shown a soft floater in the paint that he uses to score over taller opponents. Uses his playmaking ability to find teammates spotting up for three-pointers on drive and kicks. He is a pest on defense who loves to pick up opponents full court and wreak havoc. When he sees his opponent is weak with their handle he will use his quick hands to poke the ball away for steals. Has a very good understanding of defensive rotations for his age. Certainly one to keep an eye on for the future. In addition to how he develops physically, the level that Carter plays at after high school will ultimately be determined by his growth as a floor general on the AAU circuit and at Milton, and how his performance contributes to his teams’ success.

Copyright © 2020 Jared Exler, All rights reserved.

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