CIAC: Top Tandems Debate, Which Tandem Rules the Courts in Connecticut? by CTHoopsNews

By Robbie Goodrich

As Connecticut, high school basketball season ramps up for a three-week march to a weekend at The Sun I thought it would be fun to place an issue or two up for debate.  The first issue we will ask our fans to determine is which two-player combo is the best.  I chose five tandems.  Some will argue I have "dissed" a tandem or two but this group is our pick to start the debate.  We will ask fans to vote for their favorite and in a week we will have the first fan only Player Award to give out.  If you want to sponsor the award let us know we are still taking offers.  It will be awarded on finals weekend.  Click Here to VOTE... 

Here we go:

Jaecee and Chaylyn Martin, Weaver, Hartford, CT

Jaecee Martin          5’8   175 lbs. c/o 2017 PG------18.2 PPG, 6.4 APG, 4.2 RPG 4.8 SPG

Chaylyn Martin         5’11 175 lbs .c/o 2017 SG------16.1 PPG, 4.7 APG. 5.9 RPG 3.4 SPG 1.7 BPG

Combined Stats 34.3 PPG, 11.1 APG, 10.1 RPG, 8.4 SPG, and 1.7 BPG

Team Record 18-2

For this debate, we put aside their historical careers.  It’s just not fair to compare other players to the Martin Brothers’ four historic years at Weaver.  They are prolific winners. 

Jaecee is a floor general. Combine his physical strength with his decision-making skills and you get second best PG in the state behind Tremont Waters.  Very few players perform as well as Jaecee does under pressure.  He is Weaver’s player-coach.  He is patient but stubborn and never gives an inch to any offensive player he is guarding. He is able to get to the bucket and has an improved jumper. His top games this year include a 24-point performance against Bloomfield, and 23 points against Roselle Catholic, NJ in the Hoop Hall Classic. He also recorded a rare triple-double against Hall with 15 pts, 10 assists, and 12 steals.

Chaylyn is a multidimensional player who has grown his skill set each and every year.  He is a defensive stopper who can guard every team's best guards and forwards.  He blocks more jump shots than any player I can recall.  Earlier this year he had the CIAC performance of the year.  He scored 38 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 blocks, and 5 steals in a come from behind victory over Windsor.  An explosive offensive player, Chaylyn excels in the open court and destroys smaller guards on the blocks.

 

Mike McGuirl and Joey Reilly East Catholic, Manchester, CT

Mike McGuirl        6’4 200 lbs. c/o 2017 SF-------22.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 10.0 RPG, 3.0 SPG

Joey Reilly         6’0 160 lbs. c/o 2019 SG-------18.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.2 RPG

Combined Stats 40.0 PPG, 12 APG, 15.2 RPG, 3 SPG

Team Record 19-1

Mike McGuirl, who is Kansas State-bound is a well known for his ice-cold demeanor and a basket full of game-winning shots.   He plays terrific defense.  In East’s victory over East Hartford McGuirl shut down Hornets Isaiah Williams.  It was impressive.  Mike can guard any position on the floor and plays baseline to baseline.  He is a great rebounder with NBA shooting range.  McGuirl scored 23 against Windsor, and a big 24 points in a come from behind victory over Hamden.  

Joey Reilly, the youngest player in this group of heralded veterans doesn’t shy from big moments.  Reilly compliments McGuirl quite well.  He can slide into the corner and drain threes or drive and dish to open players.  Considered to be one of the state's best pure shooters, Reilly opens the floor and puts defenses in a quandary.  His slight but developing frame has allowed him to grab over five rebounds per game.  Big things are in his future.  His season high of 33 points came against Hamden and he added 19 points in the Eagles’ CCC quarterfinal win over Windsor.

 

Isaiah Gaiter and Raheem Solomon Sacred Heart, Waterbury, CT

Raheem Solomon    6’3 180 lbs. c/o 2018 SG------ 19.7 PPG, 2.3 APG, 5.1 RPG, 70% FT

Isaiah Gaiter              6’3 190 lbs. c/o 2018 SG------ 15.4 PPG, 2.2 APG, 5.4 RPG, 84% FT

Combined Stats 35.1 PPG, 4.5 APG, 10.5 RPG

Team Record 20-0

Raheem Solomon is only a junior and has just started to play the lead role for the Hearts.  He has been terrific. Raheem has seized the opportunity created by the graduation of the best duo of seniors to play for a Connecticut school in 50 years.  (Mustapha Heron and Tryn Flowers) Solomon plays with strong fundamentals and this allows him to gracefully dominate games.  He has led his team to an undefeated record and had several games to note.  Recently he scored 31 points in the opening round of the NVL tournament, 28 points in a tight game against Crosby and 27 points in a victory over rival Holy Cross. 

Isaiah Gaiter a newcomer to the Hearts this year.  He played for Platt last year and was their top player as a 10th grader.  Gaiter came to Sacred Heart, which has won 3 consecutive state championships, and it’s been a transition that’s shown his humility and willingness as well as a high skill level to fulfill different roles, as it has been needed.  Gaiter’s physique combined with his basketball acumen makes him a threat wherever he plays.  He can be the PG, defend 1-4, and score tough buckets inside.  These are attributes that can’t be overlooked.

 

Byron Breland, III and Joey Kasperzyk Hillhouse, New Haven, CT

Byron Breland, III   6’3 180 lbs. c/o 2018 SG------ 17.0 PPG, 5.0RPG,  4.0 SPG

Joey Kasperzyk          6’2 175 lbs. c/o 2017 SG------ 16.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 4.0 RPG, 4.0 SPG

Combine Stats 33.0 PPG, 9.0 RBG, 4.0 APG, and 8 SPG

Team Record 19-1

Byron Breland, III will take your breath away. Breland, a junior is slowly becoming the player every one wants to watch in the CIAC.   A multisport athlete, one wonders if he just played basketball what he could become.  He reminds us of Randy Moss.  Trey has an explosiveness that makes him tough to guard.  He’s comfortable hitting corner 3’s, pulling up on the wing or silencing his opponents with vicious dunks.  Trey has scored well in big games.  Don’t overlook his defense or you’ll pay.  Teams haven’t been and won’t be successful at challenging Trey.  He had 27 against Hamden, 24 against rival Wilbur Cross, and scored 21 big points against NYC’s Cardinal Hayes. 

Joey Kasperzyk has played 11 games this year.  A wrist injury sidelined him earlier this season.  Despite that, the senior guard is a lightening rod on the court.  His effort on both ends of the court makes him a difference maker.  His fearless play makes him one of the most dangerous players in the CIAC.  Kasperzyk will score big buckets off of turnovers, aggressively drive the ball to the hoop, and pick your pocket if you are careless with ball.  Don’t back off Kasperzyk cause he’ll pull up from deep in millisecond.  The senior scored 29 points against NYC’s Cardinal Hayes, and scored 19 in a victory over Middletown. 

 

Tremont Waters and Jalanni White Notre Dame of West Haven, CT

Tremont Waters        5’10 165 lbs. c/o 2017 PG------ 24.0 PPG, 5.0 APG, 4.0 RPG, 4.0 SPG

Jalanni White             6’7 200 lbs. c/o 2017 F/C-------13.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.0 BPG

Combined Stats 37.0 PPG, 15.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 4.0 SPG, and 3.0 BPG

Team Record 20-0

Tremont Waters is the best player high school Connecticut.  No one scores it better, no one controls a game better, and when challenged Mr. Waters has been even better.  Earlier in a game against Hamden he poured in 24 first half points when his team was being challenged by a CJ Seaforth (IONA) led squad. In the SCC semis,he was in foul trouble most of the game but still scored 22 points and made big steals to help his team defeat Wilbur Cross. A transfer from South Ken, Waters has easily fit in with his new team and elevated the Green Knights to the #1 Ranking in our state.  He will be attending Georgetown next year but he has work to do with the LL tournament coming up. 

Jalanni White is a one our state's best frontcourt players.  His scoring and rebounding are an indispensable combination to Waters’ multifaceted game.  Surely White would have scored more and had a greater share of the spotlight on him this year if he was without Waters.  He plays a brand of defense that intimidates most would-be drivers of the ball to the hoop and his length makes getting 12-15 footers really difficult.  White is a double-double machine and if you aren’t careful he will posterize you.

Preseason All-ECC & CSC Teams by CTHoopsNews

By: Sam Rubinstein (@_samruby) & Nate Rubinstein (@Nate_Rubinstein) 

 

All ECC  

PG - So. Dev Ostrowski, East Lyme

 

 

One of the more exciting youngsters in the state. Can score at a high level and will be the main component behind any East Lyme success.

 

 

SG - Sr. Isaiah McNair - Ledyard

 

 

Returning all-stater that will look to lead his team to a league and state title this winter. Going to be a tough matchup for teams night in and night out.

 

 

SF - Jr. Mekhi Warren - Windham

 

 

Athletic monster who has been on the scene since his freshman year at Maloney. Brings excitement to the game every time he takes the floor

 

 

PF - Sr. Jeff Evans - Waterford

 

 

Controls the paint for one of the ECC’s more successful programs. Protects the rim at a high level and is a menace on the boards.

 

 

C - Sr. D. Major Roman - New London

 

 

Though he is playing football at Yale next fall, Roman is just as dominant on the hardwood. Was an all stater as a junior and will be dominant again in his senior season.

 

All CSC

PG - Sr. Denzell Woodlard - Vinal Tech

 

A true facilitator that also has range from behind the arc. 

 

SG - Jr. Delshawn Jackson Jr. - Prince Tech

 

Jackson is a natural scorer and is arguably the most talented player in the conference. 

 

SF - Sr. Roderick Henderson - Capital Prep Magnet

 

Henderson can play the 2-guard and the 3 and really knows how to crash the boards. 

 

PF - Sr. Keon Evans - Bassick

 

Evans is the first force of the Bassick front court. It was hard to leave either of them out of the Preseason All CSC team.

 

C -  Jr. Jordan Gallimore - Bassick

 

You can't teach height, and standing at 6-foot-8 Gallimore sure has it. Bassick's junior center also has impressive post moves for a young big man. 

2016-2017 Preseason All CCC Team by CTHoopsNews

By: Nate Rubinstein (@Nate_Rubinstein) & Sam Rubinstein (@_samruby)

 

With all of the talent that is found in the CCC conference, it is tough to narrow it down to a starting lineup. After going through each team in the conference, Nate and Sam have each formed two Preseason All CCC rosters that give a starting lineup, to highlight the top player at each position, rather than the top five players overall.

 

 

 

Nate’s Team

FIRST TEAM

Point Guard: Sr. Jared Simmons - Newington

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Simmons is excellent at distributing the ball, and can also flat out score. He continues to grow as a point guard, and will make a great leader of an offense at the college level.

 

Check out our recruiting spotlight on Jared Simmons here!

 

Shooting Guard: Sr. Mike McGuirl - East Catholic

 

 

 

It’s safe to say that if Tremont Waters didn’t transfer into the CIAC, McGuirl would have the No. 1 spot in our annual “Top 20 Returning Players” rankings. The Kansas State commit finds many ways to score the basketball, and doesn’t mind contact in the lane.

 

 

Small Forward: So. Cairo McCroy - Northwest Catholic

 

I thought it was bold throwing a sophomore in my first team selection, but McCroy is the real deal. He is able to elevate and play above the rim, but also has no problem scoring off of the dribble.

 

 

Power Forward: So. Rakesh Tibby - East Catholic

 

Tibby stands at 6-foot-7 and has natural talent in the post. His quick first step to the cylinder makes him an offensive threat for East Catholic.

 

 

Center: Sr. Andre Lyons - Weaver

 

Lyons really completes this Weaver lineup with his presence in the post. Was an easy selection for me.

 

 

 

SECOND TEAM

Point Guard: Sr. Chalynn Martin - Weaver

Shooting Guard: Sr. Jaecee Martin - Weaver

Small Forward: Sr. Amhod Privott - Middletown

Power Forward: Jr. Austin Nwafor - East Hartford

Center: Sr. Dan Brocke - Hall

 

 

 

 

Sam’s Teams

FIRST TEAM

Point Guard: Sr. Jared Simmons - Newington

 

Legendary career that has a chance to finish with an exclamation point in the playoffs. Simmons has been fun to watch the past three years and is poised for his best year yet as a senior.

 

Shooting Guard: Sr. Jaecee Martin - Weaver

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

 

With Weaver’s recent success, Martin has been in the spotlight since his freshman year. He is tough as nails and will lock you up for 84 feet. Plays above the rim and is as exciting as they come.

 

Small Forward: Sr. Mike McGuirl - East Catholic

 

McGuirl will be playing in one of the most prestigious conferences next year with the Kansas State Wildcats. Safe to say he won’t have much of a problem with the CCC.

 

Power Forward: Sr. Andre Lyons - Weaver

 

Lyons is a solid rim protector and can run the floor extremely well. Thrives in Weaver's uptempo style and is ready for a great year. 

 

Center: Sr. Dan Brocke - Hall

 

To put it simply, Dan Brocke is a rock down low for Hall. Efficient scorer in the post and can bang on the boards with the best of them.

 

SECOND TEAM

Point Guard: Sr. Chalynn Martin - Weaver

Shooting Guard: Jr. Jaekwon Spencer - Bristol Central

Small Forward: So. Cairo McCroy - Northwest Catholic

Power Forward: Sr. Malik Cameron - Manchester

Center: So. Rakesh Tibby - East Catholic

Top 20 Returning CIAC Players 2016-2017 by CTHoopsNews

By: Sam Rubinstein (@_samruby)

 

Here are our Top 20 returning players to the CIAC for the 2016-2017 season! Check it out.

  1. Tremont Waters - Senior, Notre Dame West Haven

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Tremont Waters shook the world of CIAC basketball on August 19th when he announced he was transferring from South Kent School to Notre Dame West Haven. Waters is a top 5 point guard in the entire country according to ESPN’s rankings. His list of offers consists of the most prestigious and successful division one programs in the nation including Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, Georgetown, and in-state UConn. Despite just being 5’9, Waters’ quick release and consistency from long range, combined with exceptional ball handling ability and court vision have created problems for defenders from coast to coast the past several years; it will be no different this fall when he suits up in the green and gold for the Notre Dame Green Knights.

 

Check out Tremont Waters' Highlight Video Here!


 

2. Mike McGuirl - Senior, East Catholic High School

 

After a breakout summer of AAU play, Mike McGuirl is back and better than ever, as he looks to lead his East Catholic squad to their third state championship in four years and back to back conference titles. As a junior last season, McGuirl averaged 19 points and 8 rebounds per game including game high 16 point performance against Middletown in the Class L final, which brought him first team Class L honors. After the departure of Mark Carbone (U of San Diego), McGuirl’s production should to take a colossal leap as the reins of the team are now his. This will allow him to impact the game with the ball in his hands a lot more than he did last season. McGuirl is a Kansas State commit headed to the Big 12, but this year he’ll to do everything in his power to get another championship ring.

 

Check out Mike McGuirl's Highlight Video Here!

 

3. Jared Simmons - Senior, Newington High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

A historic 4 year run will come to the end after this winter for Newington senior point guard Jared Simmons. Simmons will leave the school as the all time leading scorer, with single season record for points (550) and assists (185). A three time All-CCC recipient, two time first team Class L recipient, and one of the most winning players in school history. Simmons can not only create for himself (22 ppg last season), but also for others as he averaged a healthy 7.3 assists per game. These qualities along with his freakish-jumping abilities have not only caught the eye of fans and opposing coaches around the state, but also college coaches. Simmons has one division one offer from Rider University along with interest from several other America East schools (for more information, check out our recruiting spotlight on Jared here: HERE). Look for Simmons to continue his growth and development as he aims to lead his Indians to another record-breaking season and a chance to play for a CCC and Class L crowns.

Check Out Jared Simmons' Highlight Video Here!


 

4. Joe Kasperzyk - Senior, Hillhouse High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Last year, when Joe Kasperzyk came in at #11 on our top returning player list, we mentioned how he is one of the best guards, on one of the best teams, in one of the best conferences. One year later and this is no different. Hillhouse returns almost all of their key components from last year’s Class LL championship team and Kasperzyk is that main component. A do-it-all type point guard, Kasperzyk averaged 14.8 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.0 steals per game including 26 points in the Class LL final. Kasperzyk holds two Division one offers from Sacred Heart University and Iona College (you can check out more about his recruiting here: HERE). Not only will Kasperzyk look to help Hillhouse repeat as state champs, but he will also help his squad aim to win the very competitive SCC conference title in which they lost in the final last season.

 

5. Raheem Solomon - Junior, Sacred Heart High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

It’s not so often that one of the top players in the state has never been the go-to guy for their own teams. For his first two years of high school, the 6’2 rising junior, Raheem Solomon, has been in the shadows of one of the greatest senior classes to ever come through the state. Now that those seniors are gone, Solomon has a chance to show the NVL and the rest of the state what they’ve been missing out on. Solomon has the athletic ability to get to the rim at will and is force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball. One of the top rated players in the Class of 2018 according to multiple recruiting sites, Solomon has already been getting interest from high major schools including Washington, Virginia, Pitt, Auburn and has attended Syracuse’s elite camp this past August. The sky's the limit for this next standout product out of Sacred Heart High School and we are all very excited to see what he can do this season.

 

Check Out Solomon's Highlight Tape Here!

 

6. Byron Breland III - Junior, Hillhouse High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

In the past few years, there has been a massive influx of young talent in the CIAC that is getting opportunities to showcase their talents as underclassmen. Byron Breland III is one of those many young stars on the scene after only two short years at Hillhouse. The 6’3 forward is one of the elite scorers in the state and also has the size and athleticism to bang on the boards as shown by his few double-doubles last season. Coming off a sophomore season that ended in a Class LL championship (in which he poured in 23 points) and Second Team Class LL honors, look for Breland to continue to get better as a junior this season and make a push to repeat as state champs.

 

Check Out Breeland's Dunk In The State Final Here!

 

7. CJ Seaforth - Senior, Hamden High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

CJ Seaforth is back for his senior season as he looks to build on what him and his team did last winter in which they finished with a 14-9 record and an appearance in the SCC and Class LL playoffs. One of the top players in the SCC, Seaforth averaged 21.5 points per game which was good enough to earn him Second Team Class LL honors. Seaforth has terrific control of the basketball, which allows him to create for himself off the dribble at a high rate and consistently finish at the rim whether in traffic or not. He also has the ability to step outside and knock down the three point jumper if it is given to him. This combination of skills along with great athleticism and capability to defend multiple positions is why he comes in at number seven on our list of returning players. Watch out for this Iona College commit in the next several months as he leads his Hamden Dragons through the highly-competitive SCC.


 

8. Jaecee Martin - Senior, Weaver High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Jaecee Martin of the Weaver Beavers has been one of the top players in the state for the past few years. The 5’8 point guard is a ball of energy out on the court and is a threat on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. As a junior, Martin made the Class LL Second Team while averaging 15.6 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.5 steals per game and helping his team to an appearance in the Class LL finals at Mohegan Sun. One of the more impactful players this state has to offer, it’s no surprise he holds an offer from close by Division One program, Iona College. Weaver will be one of the best teams in the state this season yet again and Martin will be a main reason why.

 

9. Chalynn Martin - Senior, Weaver High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Chalynn Martin of the Weaver Beavers has also been one of the top players in the state for the past few years. Just like his brother, Chalynn has been part of one of the state’s most successful programs in the past several seasons at Weaver High School. Standing at 6’1, you wouldn’t think he would have much presence on the boards but in fact he does. Along with averaging 15.4 points per game as a junior last season, he put up 5.8 rebounds per contest as well. He is one of those guys that just does it all for his team. He is a true threat in every aspect of the game. The former first team Class LL honoree is bound to have a special senior season and we can’t wait to witness it.



 

10. Christian Adams - Junior, Hillhouse High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

The third member of the Academics to make our list, Christian Adams was just as important to Hillhouse’s success last season as Kaspersyk and Breland III were. The sharp shooting forward is one of the most versatile players in the SCC. At 6’4, Adams has the ability to control the game with his outside shooting, while he can also manage to dominate down low. As a sophomore last season he averaged a double-double of 11.6 points and 10 rebounds per game which was good enough to earn him Second Team Class LL honors. With Adams, along with his teammates from earlier on the list, it is safe to say that Hillhouse is going to be a problem for the SCC and the rest of the state this season.

 

11. Patrick Harding - Senior, Fairfield Prep

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

This 6’8 big man is yet another player in the long line of Fairfield Prep greats. After graduation of all-state guard, Rich Kelly, Patrick Harding will be the main focus of this year’s Prep team. A true post presence, Harding is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker down low to go along with an efficient scoring touch. He is a great ability to run the floor at his size and has potential to dominate every game he plays in this season. Harding holds offers from Army and Columbia and has other Ivy schools expressing interest. Safe to say Harding is going to make it very hard on the SCC and the rest of the state this winter as he plays out his senior year.


 

12. Marcus Fox - Senior, Danbury High School

 

Marcus Fox is one of the more powerful post presences this state has to offer. Standing at 6’4, Fox’s strength and great footwork set him apart from the other bigs that the FCIAC has to offer. Not only is he great at scoring down low, but he is an above average passer out of the post and is a menace on both the offensive and defensive boards. Coming off a junior season where he earned Second Team Class LL honors and First Team FCIAC honors, Fox is hands down the most impactful player returning in his league. Look for the Hatters out of Danbury to follow up their amazing season last year (a run to the Class LL semis) with another stellar mark due to the fact that they have Marcus Fox controlling their paint.

 

Check Out Fox's Highlights Here!

 

13. Isiah Gaiter - Junior, Platt High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

This 6’4 southpaw started his high school career at Xavier, but after his freshman season, he transferred out to Platt High School in Meriden. There, he led the Panthers to a first round victory in the Class L tournament, and a mere upset over the #1 seed Windsor in the second round. Gaiter was a double-double machine last season and don't expect anything different in this upcoming winter. Gaiter has a smooth lefty stroke from the perimeter and has an easy time getting into the lane when smaller guards attempt to defend him so far away from the basket. Playing in the biggest conference the state has to offer is no easy task, but Gaiter showed an uncanny amount of poise and leadership as just a sophomore a year ago. He was the one that hit the buzzer beater to send them to that second round game in the state tournament. Not to mention, he dropped 21, 23 and 31 on Windsor, Middletown, and Newington respectively; three of the top tier teams of the CCC and state. Already with an offer from Iona College, don’t be surprised to see this rising junior burst on to the scene as one of the top players in the state this season.

 

14. Cairo McCroy - Sophomore, Northwest Catholic High School

 

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

Photo credit: Robbie Goodrich

It’s not often we find a player as athletic and as versatile as Cairo McCroy. The rising sophomore only has one year of varsity play under his belt, but has already earned All-CCC honors in the largest and if not toughest conference the state has to offer. Measuring in at around 6’4 and 175lb, McCroy is skilled on both the perimeter and inside on the low post. Whether you decide to defend him with a smaller guard or a larger big, he has the ability to create and put the ball in the hoop no matter who is attempting to match up with him. Already with an offer from a local Division One program, Sacred Heart University, the sky is the limit for Mr. McCroy out of Northwest Catholic. We all can’t wait to watch to see what he does this season and in the coming seasons and he continues to grow into the high level player that we know he can be.

 

Check Out McCroy's Highlight Tape Here!

 

15. Tyler Thomas - Junior, Amity High School

 

Last season, Amity hit the jackpot when Tyler Thomas transferred in from Longmeadow, Massachusetts. The Second Team Class LL guard helped resurrect this SCC program from a 4-16 season in 2015 to a 16-7 mark, an appearance in the SCC semifinals, and a 10 seed in the Class LL tournament. Thomas’s athleticism sets him apart from most as he consistently plays above the rim. His quick release jump shot off the dribble and off of a catch + shoot also poses a problem to defenses as it is tough to guard someone with speed and explosiveness that Thomas possesses. The 6’2 guard has already been drawing college interest as he will be taking unofficial visits Columbia, Yale, Princeton, and Boston College in the fall. Watch for Thomas to emerge as a top player in the SCC as a junior this season.

 

Check Out Thomas's Highlight Tape Here!

: http://www.hudl.com/video/3/7004541/5721dcc49a91677e74b02c04

 

16. Joe Reilly - Sophomore, East Catholic High School

 

We’re not sure that a freshman season could have gone any better than the one that Joe Reilly of East Catholic had. He started for the Eagles, won a CCC championship in which he led his team with 21 points in the final, and also won the Class LL championship. What more can you ask for? Reilly is one of the state’s best three point shooters as he shot at a ridiculous clip of 47% last season. He only averaged 13.3 points per game last season, but, don’t forget, he was just a freshman. Now that he has a year of experience under his belt, a couple championship rings, not to mention an offer from the University of Hartford, Joe Reilly is going to be a special player this season for one of the state’s elite programs.

 

17. Isaiah Williams - Junior, East Hartford High School

 

Although he stands at just 5’7, Isaiah Williams is a force to be reckoned with out on the floor. Whether it be with an acorbatic finish at the rim, an explosive mid range pull up, or even stepping outside the three-point line to show off his smooth-lefty stoke, this shifty little point guard can score from all over. Don’t be surprised to see Williams break out during his junior season and make a name for not only himself but also his East Hartford Hornets.

 

18. John Kelly - Junior, Fairfield Prep

 

Rising junior John Kelly will have a much bigger role with the Jesuits this season after the graduation of his brother. The 6’5 forward is an excellent shooter from the perimeter and can also defend multiple positions with his length. Already an SCC champion, Kelly is very experienced for just being a junior. He has played in all of the big games and comes from a program that understands what it takes to win. Prep will for sure be a top team in the state again and look for Kelly to be a main component of all that they go on to accomplish.


 

19. Kewan Smoot - Senior, South Windsor High School

 

After squeaking into the Class LL tournament with a 9-11 record last season, watch for South Windsor to make a bit more noise this time around as Kewan Smoot is back for his senior season. Another stud out of the CCC, Kewan Smoot is one of the more electrifying players in the state. The 6’2 point guard averaged 20.1 points and 6 assists per game as a junior which was good enough to earn him Class LL Second Team honors. Smoot is a strong finisher at the rim and has impressive court vision to constantly get his teammates involved.

 

20. Connor Harkins - Senior, Greenwich High School

 

Not so often you come across guy that can shoot it like Connor Harkins. You don’t believe us? Watch his junior year highlight tape HERE!

Harkins has “in the gym” range and can consistently knock down the jumper off the pull up, step back, and catch + shoot. In his junior season he averaged 18 ppg and earned First Team All-FCIAC, along with making 82 threes in 21 games (roughly 4 threes per contest). If that wasn’t enough, Harkins hit the game winning step back 3 from the top of the key in last year’s first round upset over Stamford in the Class LL tourney. Opposing coaches better start prepping now for their contests against the Greenwich Cardinals because Connor Harkins is going to be a handful.



 

Honorable Mention Next 5

 

Next 5 Seniors

  1. Alex Preston - Darien High School

  2. Isaiah McNair - Ledyard High School

  3. Chase Belden - Pomperaug High School

  4. Jalanni White - Notre Dame West Haven

  5. Jack Williams - Wilton High School


 

Next 5 Juniors

  1. Mekhi Warren - Windham High School

  2. Jaekwon Spencer - Bristol Central

  3. Jamil Hornesby - East Catholic High School

  4. George Gamble - Windsor High School

  5. Delshawn Jackson Jr. - Prince Tech


 

The Future is Bright! Top 5 Returning Underclassmen

  1. Connor Raines - Sophomore, Notre Dame West Haven

  2. Dev Ostrowski - Sophomore, East Lyme High School

  3. Aidan Carpenter - Sophomore, Hamden High School

  4. Ken Turner - Sophomore, Ledyard High School

  5. Nate Tabor - Freshman, Sacred Heart High School

Top 20 Returning Players 2015-2016 Season by CTHoopsNews

By: Sam Rubinstein (@_samruby)

1. Mustapha Heron - Senior, Sacred Heart High School (Waterbury, CT)

- Arguably one of the most glorified players to ever come through Connecticut, the 6'6" guard has been a man amongst boys the past two seasons playing for the Hearts. As a junior he averaged 22 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and his track record consists of two Class S state championships, one Naugatuck Valley League conference title, one undefeated season, two-time All-State honors, and a New Haven Register Player of the Year honor in 2015. Almost forgot, Heron is ranked 24th nationally in the class of 2016 by ESPN, played for the U18 U.S. Select Team in Italy over the summer, and is committed to play for Coach Bruce Pearl at Auburn University.

 

2. Tyrn Flowers - Senior, Sacred Heart High School (Waterbury, CT)

- Ty Flowers has quietly stood in the shadows of Mustapha Heron for his high school career, but there is no doubt that this kid would be the go-to-guy on any other team in the state. Standing at a lanky 6 feet 7 inches, the returning first team All-Stater is a versatile player that can shoot with unlimited range, rebound, and block shots at the rim. He had a breakout summer playing against some of the best competition in the country for the New York Rens and has drawn interest from many high/mid-major schools. Him and his loaded Sacred Heart squad eye a three-peat this year in Class S.

 

3. KeAndre Fair - Senior, Weaver High School (Hartford, CT)

- A four-year Varsity player and two time All-Stater, Fair has led his Weaver Beavers to consecutive Central Connecticut Conference championships and three straight trips to play for the Class M title; winning the latter of the three over Notre Dame of Fairfield, 73-59. Fair has averaged 17 points per game throughout his high school career and when March rolls around, he will look to add another state and conference title to his resume. 

 

4. Rayon Christie - Senior, Simsbury High School (Simsbury, CT)

- Christie returns to play for the Trojans of Simsbury High after a very successful season where he led his team to an 18-6 record and an appearance in the Class LL quarterfinals. He averaged 23.7 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game which was good enough to earn him first team Class LL All-State honors. His ability to score in multiple ways and to get his teammates involved makes him a dangerous threat this season and makes Simsbury a true contender for a conference, and possibly state title.

 

5. Robert Durant, Jr. - Senior, Wilbur Cross High School (New Haven, CT)

- One of the more dominating big men from last year, Durant has some unfinished business going into the 2015-2016 season. The 6'5" forward had to sit out towards the end of the schedule due to injury and missed his team's run in the state tournament where they ended up losing to eventual state champion, Bunnell, by 11. Durant was a first team Southern Connecticut Conference selection and second team Class L selection. His size and grit were unmatched last year when he was healthy and the SCC is going to have a tough time containing him this year.

 

6. Mark Carbone - Senior, East Catholic High School (Manchester, CT)

- Carbone, a returning first-team Class M guard is primed for another outstanding season. After a 2014 state championship title, he led his Eagles to a 19-7 record in 2015 and back to the Class M semi-finals where they lost to eventual tournament champion, Weaver High School. Before Carbone packs up to play to play Division One ball out west at the University of San Diego, he has some unfinished business to take care of here on the east coast. Keep your eyes and ears open for Mark Carbone this winter.

 

7. Charles Fischer - Senior, Sacred Heart High School (Waterbury, CT)

- No, this is not a typo; another Sacred Heart player is in the top 10 of this year’s preseason player rankings. A two-year starter and back-to-back state champ, Fischer has been the conductor of this Sacred Heart train that has swept through the state’s tracks. One of the top true point guards over the past few years, Fischer is as smooth as silk and knows how to control a game. You may not see much of him in the box score at the end of games this season, but if SHHS runs the table for the third straight year, just know that Fischer is a huge reason. 

 

8. Jaecee Martin - Junior, Weaver High School (Hartford, CT)

- Only a junior, Jaecee Martin has to be one of the most versatile and athletic players returning in the state. At 5’8", Martin averaged 13.7 points per game, 6.2 assists per game, and 4.4 steals per game on his way to earning first team Class M honors in his 2015 sophomore campaign. Knowing the consistency we’ve seen from Weaver in the past years, don’t doubt that we see Martin playing a big role in the road back to Mohegan for the Weaver Beavers. 

 

9. Jared Simmons - Junior, Newington High School (Newington, CT)

- As a sophomore, Simmons was the leader on last year’s Newington squad that finished with the second best record in school history at 18-5. Simmons made the Class L first team, averaged 19.7 points per game, and 5.8 assists per game. His total number assists set a new school record at 130. Pretty impressive year for Simmons being that he was only a sophomore. One can only imagine the damage this kid will do on the Central Connecticut Conference and the rest of the state this season coming off of last year’s performance. 

 

10. Chalynn Martin - Junior, Weaver High School (Hartford, CT)

- The final piece of Weaver’s Big Three, is another versatile threat that teams have to look out for. Martin put the exclamation point on last year’s state championship victory with an emphatic two hand jam that sent the Mohegan Sun crowd into a frenzy. If you didn’t know about Martin before that dunk, you definitely knew who he was afterwards. In 2015, as a sophomore, Chalynn put up 12.4 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. Just as we can expect a lot of wins from Weaver this year, we can expect just as many spectacular dunks and standout performances from Mr. Chalynn Martin. 

 

11. Joe Kasperzyk - Junior, Hillhouse High School (New Haven, CT)

- The fourth straight player listed from the class of 2017, Kasperzyk is one of the best guards in the state, playing for one of the best teams, in one of the best conferences.  Coming off a sophomore season where he earned second team Class LL honors, Kasperzyk looks to lead his Hillhouse squad back to another deep run in the Class LL tournament and another shot at an Southern Connecticut Conference crown. 

 

12. Rich Kelly - Senior, Fairfield College Preparatory School (Fairfield, CT)

- After being a key component in Prep’s run to their first state title since 1987, Kelly is going to have a lot more responsibility with this year’s team after the loss of seniors, Thomas Nolan and Ryan Foley. I don’t think Kelly is going to have a problem with his new role though. As a junior last year, he put up 16.5 points per game along with 3.9 assists per game on his way to second team Class LL honors. Kelly is one of the state’s best returning shooters; he shot 62% from three point land last year and 89% from the free throw line. I’m sure we will see Prep vying for a couple more championships this year and Kelly will be one of the reasons. 

 

13. Raheem Solomon - Sophomore, Sacred Heart High School (Waterbury, CT)

- It’s not so often you see a player who was a 6th man the year prior make it into the top player rankings going into a season, but Raheem Solomon is a special case. Solomon has the chance to be one of the more dominant players in the state this year and in the years to come. Whoever was lucky enough to see him play in a limited role last year, knows how talented this kid is and how much potential he has. He should be moved up into the starting lineup this season, and if a team manages to shut down Heron, Flowers, and Fischer, don’t be surprised to see Solomon take over a few games. 

 

14. Eddie Volkertz - Senior, Fitch High School (Groton, CT)

- Coming off a junior season where he averaged a double-double with 17.8 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game, Volkertz is one of the most dominant big men we have returning this year. Despite his squad not making the state tournament in 2015, he still earned second team Class L honors. Volkertz is looking to be the leader in getting Fitch back into the state tournament this year and it’s going to be tough to stop him. 

 

15. Landon Peabody - Senior, Waterford High School (Waterford, CT)

- One of the more dominating players in the Eastern Connecticut Conference, Peabody looks to build upon his junior campaign where he made second team Class M. He led his Waterford team to a successful 16-4 campaign which gave them the 2 seed in the conference tourney and the 4 seed in the state tournament. If the Lancers want to repeat last year’s success and make a deeper run in the playoffs, Peabody is going to have to be their go-to-guy. 

 

16. Donovan Lighty - Senior, New Britain High School (New Britain, CT)

- A returning all-conference guard out of the Central Connecticut Conference, Lighty has the ability to take over a game with his scoring abilities. One could say that this was pretty evident when he went 8-8 from three point land and for 26 total points in the first half of a game against Newtown last year. His Golden Hurricanes squeaked into the tournament at 9-11 in 2015 but keep an eye out for New Britain this season because with Lighty at the helm, they can’t be taken lightly. 

 

17. Patrick Harding - Junior, Fairfield College Preparatory School (Fairfield, CT)

- Harding is arguably the best big man in the class of 2017. On the 2015 Prep championship team, he played a vital role as a sophomore and not only held his own, but sometimes even outplayed his older opponents. The 6’7 big man has the ability to score the ball as well as block shots at the rim. He is mobile and coordinated and that is why he is currently getting looks from several low Division One schools. It seems like Prep churns out high caliber players every year and Harding is definitely no exception. 

 

18. C.J. Seaforth - Junior, Hamden High School (Hamden, CT)

- Another stud out of the Southern Connecticut Conference, Seaforth is primed for a terrific junior year. Last year he was one of the Green Dragon’s leading scorers and led them to a season that ended with a state tournament berth and an upset victory over Fairfield Prep, which broke their conference winning streak of 44; Seaforth put up 18 points in that game. Already drawing an offer from local Division One school, Fairfield University, don’t be surprised if Seaforth attracts more interest and leads Hamden to more victories in the 2015-2016 season.

 

19. Jesse Mcintosh - Senior, Notre Dame-Fairfield Catholic High School (Fairfield, CT)

- Mcintosh has been one of the top shooters and overall players in the Southwest Conference for the past couple years. If he never injured his leg in the SWC championship last year, Notre Dame might have won that game and maybe even could have won the Class M championship game instead of Weaver; that is how much of a game-changer this guy is. His smooth stroke and ability to get his team involved separates himself from other guards in the conference and the state.

 

20. Jeff Stockmal - Junior, Shelton High School (Shelton, CT)

- Coming off of a sophomore year where earned first team All-Southern Connecticut Conference and Class LL honorable mention, Stockmal looks to make a name for himself statewide during his junior season. He averaged 16.6 points per game last year which was one of the best averages in the conference, but it didn’t transfer over to team success as the Gaels just missed out on the state tournament with a 7-13 record. Stockmal and his teammates have some unfinished business this year as they look to make it to postseason play. If they do reach Connecticut’s version of March Madness, Stockmal will be one of the main reasons why. 

Top 10 Players in the Past 10 Years by CTHoopsNews

The Nutmeg State has had a TON of extremely talented public school players since 2005... Here are our Top 10:

1. Jordan Williams (Torrington HS)

It’s hard to argue with the 6’10” Maryland standout as the top high school player in the past 10 years. His 35 points and 20 rebounds per game during his senior season tore apart the NVL and led his team to the Class L State Title. If that’s not enough for you, put this video on repeat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh_oIvJyGNY

2. Kris Dunn (New London HS)

The 2,000 point scorer out of Southeast Connecticut has been arguably the most talented Connecticut guard in this generation. Aside from leading his team to two consecutive State title games, Dunn produced one of the best all-around seasons in our state’s history, averaging 26.5 points, 10 rebs, 5 steals, and 5 assists in his junior campaign.

 

3. Brandon Sherrod (Stratford HS)

The accolades speak for themselves: 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year, 2-time All-State, 2-time State Champion, 6 triple-doubles, and a school record in blocked shots. What is most impressive about Sherrod is his dedication off the court to the arts, as he is now a member of the Whiffenpoofs, a prestigious accapella group.

4. Phillip Starks (Prince Tech)

Not many CT natives finish the season 3rd in the country in scoring. If they have, I guarantee they didn't do it while being triple teamed every game. Phillip Starks average 37.3 ppt his senior year during a season where he wasn’t just the main attraction, he was the only attraction. Starks holds two of the best 20 scoring games in Connecticut history, and is continuing his successful career at WCSU.

5. Anthony Ireland (Crosby HS)

Forget Anthony Ireland’s college program records at LMU (3rd in pts, 1st in minutes, 4th in 3 pointers, 3rd in assists, 2nd in steals, and on and on)… Why forget? Because in high school he was just that much better. On his way to a 70-7 career record, Ireland played in two state title games and scored more than 26 points per game over his final two seasons. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mpz0UNco0A

 

6. Kuran Iverson (Northwest Catholic)

6’8’ Point Guards don’t come along every day. Although he lost in both his state championship appearances, Kuran didn't disappoint his reputation on a nightly basis. Although he took his talents to military school for his senior season, we remember the Connecticut days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbHO3VT7qHc

7. Paschal Chukwu (Fairfield Prep)

The recent graduate spent three out of his four March’s in the Mohegan Sun Arena for the State Championship CONTEST. In his final two seasons as the Jesuits rim protector, they lost only four games. In his final season Paschal averaged a modest 14.3 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks while effecting the game on a much deeper level. 

8. Kahlil Dukes (Capital Prep)

Kahlil jumped onto the scene in Connecticut during his Freshman year where he led the state in scoring and averaged 29 points per game. He never SLOWED down as he led his team to a 44-7 record over his last two seasons. His relentless work ethic led him to USC where he still works reach his peak. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxOtqXiZLIg

 

9. Doug Wiggins (East Hartford)

There’s something to be celebrated when a top Connecticut public high school kid stays home, right? Connecticut said thank you to Mr. Wiggins by awarding him the Gatorade Player of the Year. 1,762 career points with 32 a game during his senior year doesn’t hurt either I guess.

10. Schadrac Casimir (Trinity Catholic)

In high school, Casimir looked like another very good Connecticut guard who might get lost in the mix. After 2 state championship appearances, and 26 points per game, he attended South Kent and landed a SCHOLARSHIP at Iona. In his rookie campaign he’s averaging 13.8 points per game.

By: Brent Pelella