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.