Basketball in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has stumbled into a new era, and it isn’t reminiscent of generations passed.
The days when greater Hartford tangoed with southwestern Connecticut in LL Championships have disintegrated. Gone are the trembling limbs of those who draw an NVL powerhouse in the early rounds. Our state basketball reputation is transforming from abundantly talented to grossly uniform. Everyone who’s followed it through the decades understands this, but the begging question is why?
Don’t get me wrong, the talent within our state is still as tremendous as it has ever been. However, with the exception of Mustapha Heron (Sacred Heart), no other public school player has committed to a high major Division 1 PROGRAM. Where our broadcasted talent now lies, is within the prep school circuit.
It is safe to say that the perceived credibility of Connecticut basketball, at least from an outsiders perspective, starts and ends with the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC). In fact, out of the top 15 graduating players in the state, according to several recruiting , only 3 are still at a CIAC school. In the Junior rankings, only 1 player in the top 10 is at a CIAC (Heron).
Schools such as St. Thomas More, South Kent, and Putnam Science Academy have whisked away the top tier talent and created a cycle that will be hard to break. Despite the high COST, prep schools can OFFER elements that public schools simply can’t match.
Patrick Quinn, assistant coach of prestigious St. Thomas, OFFERS his take, “Prep school has a tremendous structure about it. Its coaching reputation coupled with strong discipline provides a recipe that student-athletes can take advantage of. It’s the best preparation for being an NCAA athlete.”
While it is hard to ignore the insight Coach Quinn has provided, I have found that it even goes deeper than that. A source close to the NEPSAC told me, “It isn’t just the esteem of prep school that draws players in, it’s the inefficiency of public school to help them get noticed. Every NEPSAC practice there are 5 to 10 coaches in the gym recruiting players… You’d be lucky to find 1 coach at a public school GAME.”
It sounds surprising, but the current division 1 rosters in Connecticut CONFIRM it. Out of 7 division 1 PROGRAMS in the state, there are only 12 Connecticut natives. From those 12 I found that only 6 came straight from a Connecticut public school to their respective PROGRAMS. So if the schools in our own state aren’t recruiting from our public schools, who is?
While we know the prep basketball has captured some brilliant players, I find it hard to believe that the Nutmeg state is COMPLETELY bare. The brand of Connecticut Basketball is my greatest motive in running CTHoops News. I want to bring awareness to these players who seem to be lost among the masses, with little to no recognition.
In our future we will provide everything from game summaries to state wide rankings. We want to find out who has what it takes, don’t you?
By: Brent Pelella