Friar Basketball

Live from Providence, RI: National Prep School Invitational


Another National Prep School Invitational (NPSI) is in the books and the staff of was in attendance from Friday-Sunday to take in the action. Three of the top 13 picks in the 2013 NBA Draft took part in previous showcases, and the event continues to churn out elite prospect and Providence recruits.

This is my seventh year attending the NPSI, and it rarely disappoints. Rather than give the typical rundown, Craig Leighton and I will answer six questions coming out of the showcase.

1. Rank your top three performers of the weekend in order.

Kevin Farrahar: For me, it went Jalen Adams (Cushing), Devonte Graham (Brewster) and West Oaks High school big man Anas Osama. A junior, Adams is now a full-blown star. He’s at his best in the big games and clutch moments, and Saturday against West Oaks certainly offered both. Cushing surprisingly trailed throughout, but rallied late to take a lead. A tie game in the closing seconds set up what most knew was coming: Adams with the ball in his hands with a chance to win. He has one buzzer beater already this season, and won the NEPSAC Class AA title with a 35 footer last year, but this time he drew traffic and threw an incredible pass for a layup with a second left on the clock. Adams finished with 18/6/4/3, and he certainly looks like he’ll surpass star teammate Kaleb Joseph (Syracuse) by the time his high school career ends. A year ago, Adams was under the radar outside of New England recruiting circles, but the secret is out. He’s terrific. Sort of Shabazz Napier-ish — more athletic (he plays well above the rim), but not the distributer or shooter at the same age.

Graham has gotten much ink, and it’s easy to see why. He’s a potentially magnificent scorer at the next level — hitting threes (6-8) and handling on a rope. He may have to sit next year if Appalachian State doesn’t release him from his letter of intent, but he’d be worth waiting as long as it takes. The terrific talent finished with 24 points and made it look so easy.

Osama makes the list due to upside. He’s 7’1 with a small forward’s game. He’s very slender and maturing into his body, meaning he’s not physically dominating the game the way many talented kids his height do (plays more of a wing’s game than a center), but his combination of skills — the handle, jump shot and amazing coordination for a young player so tall — is astounding. Osama came from Egypt as an unknown, but now has Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana in pursuit. He’s visited the Cards twice already. He outran Adams for a loose ball at one point, blocked Joseph from behind, and twice scored on dribble drives starting beyond the three point arc. He also knocked down a three.

Craig Leighton: 1. Devonte Graham. This was the second time I saw Graham play for Brewster, but the first time he was playing exclusively at point guard. I did not realize just how good a talent he was. If he was eligible for the ESPN Top 100 this year he would easily be in the Top 50. Devonte is that rare combination of being a natural point guard who is also an exceptional outside shooter. Think Bryce Cotton with more natural point guard skills.

2. Jalen Adams. The 6’2 guard from Cushing continues to be more impressive each time I see him. There should no longer be any doubt whether he can be a point guard at the next level as he has been showing elite playmaking skills. The pass he made to Kimani Lawrence at the buzzer to beat West Oaks was a thing of beauty.

3. Terrance Mann. The 6’5 small forward from Tilton is an elite athlete who is absolutely fantastic in the open court. He is going to need to improve his outside shot at the next level but will be a nice catch for whoever lands him. At this point it looks like he is Georgetown’s to lose.


2. How did PC targets Donovan Mitchell, Jarred Reuter and Aaron Falzon fare?

KF: All three were very solid, none were utterly spectacular. Brewster only played on Sunday and drilled Vermont Academy, 114-73. Of course, both Mitchell and Reuter are Brewster kids and they both filled the stat sheet. Reuter finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Mitchell (almost quietly) had eight points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. With teammates like Graham, Jared Terrell (Oklahoma State), and Isaac Copeland (Georgetown), the scoring is led by the veterans, but both of these players made their mark — Mitchell flashing his athleticism on an alley oop and near put-back dunk that would have brought the house down, and Reuter with his workman-like play at the rim. Ed Cooley and the entire Friar staff was in attendance for the Brewster game.

Falzon was relatively quiet in Sunday’s upset loss to Tilton, but he was very good in a win over St. Andrew’s on Saturday. I had him down for 18 points on four 3 pointers. He’s a stretch 3/4 who can also put the ball on the deck and will give a college team 5-6 rebounds a night. Just a very steady prospect who is very familiar with PC.

CL: Donovan Mitchell did not have his greatest game against Vermont Academy on Sunday, but did not play badly either. When you play on Brewster Academy with their roster full of so many elite level players it is very tough to be the star every night. Mitchell is another player who needs to work on his outside shot, but he has a chance to really excel at the next level with his superior athletic skills. He seems to have one or two “Did you see that?” moments every single game.

Reuter continued to impress with his low post moves and general basketball awareness on the court. He is the “big body with the wide backside” type of player that Ed Cooley really loves. He had a very nice game against Vermont Academy scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds and was a force underneath the entire game. Not bad at all for someone coming off the bench for Brewster.

Falzon, the Northfield Mount Hermon power forward, continues to impress everyone with his outside shot, but he has added more weapons to his offensive arsenal and is now a more well-rounded player, not just an outside shooter. He is going to be a stretch four at the next level who will also be able to do some damage underneath.


3. Who else were you impressed by?

KF: I really like Bruce Brown (2016) of Vermont Academy. There’s a recklessness to his game and edge that’s worth appreciating. I first caught Brown (who played in Massachusetts’ public league last year) in a BABC/Mass Rivals game in April and he jumped out at me back then and he’s done nothing since to make me think any less of him. I saw Brown score nearly 30 points versus Rivers in December and he was hard-driving and competitive in a game in which Vermont was being run by Brewster. Brown was on PC’s campus for a visit last summer. Just love his competitiveness. He gets after it defensively and attacks the rim hard.

We’ve been singing Tilton’s Terrance Mann’s praises for a couple of years now, and he was great in the Tilton/Northfield Mount Hermon game, while Tilton point guard Jonathan Joseph and St. Andrew’s shooter Chancellor Ellis are most likely going to make some mid-major happy one day.

File Mariol Shayok under the “one that got away” category. He was once again very solid in both games I saw Blair Academy.

CL: Anas Osama, the 7’1 Center from West Oaks Academy, seemed to come out of nowhere, but everyone is aware of him now. He has all the tools which is very rare in a player his size. During West Oak’s game against Cushing he demonstrated that he has a nice outside shot, that he can run the court very well, and that he can protect the basket underneath. Osama is one of the few 2014 Top 100 players uncommitted, but Louisville may have the inside track on him.

Jonathan Joseph, the 2015 point guard for Tilton, ran the point very nicely for Tilton against Northfield Mount Hermon finishing with 17 points and nine assists. I think the 5’9 Joseph can play for a high major program and be a valuable contributor as long as you don’t ask him to do too much.

Isaac Copeland, the Georgetown commit, seems to get better each time I see him. The 6’8 SF/PF is going to be a real handful for the Friars over the next few years.


4. If you could pick any one player of the showcase to end up at PC, Providence recruit or not, who would it be?

KF: Adams. Just so much to like about his game.

CL: Hands down, it would be Devonte Graham. He already has the full package at the point guard position. Very rarely do you see a player with his handle, passing ability, and outside touch. He could move right into the Friars backcourt next, play 35 minutes a game, and be a candidate for Big East Rookie of the Year.


5. Any under the radar prospects catch your eye?

KF: Well, I called out Joseph and Ellis earlier, and both would qualify here. How about Daquon Ervin of Northfield Mount Hermon? This is the program that produced Spike Albrecht under the radar a few years ago, and Ervin is just a steady point guard getting great coaching. He had 25 points and six steals in the win over St. Andrew’s.

CL: I don’t know if I would call them under the radar, but I would say that there were several younger players that Friar fans should keep an eye on.

Bruce Brown and Christian Vital of Vermont Academy. Vermont has several younger players with talent, but their backcourt of Brown and Vital showed flashes of why they may be high major recruits in the next couple of years. They are both in the 2016 class and have plenty of time to continue to improve.

Kimani Lawrence of Cushing Academy. The Providence native is getting limited minutes right now for Cushing, but you can tell the talent is definitely there. By the time this class of 2017 prospect is ready to move on to college he may be on several Top 100 lists.

Jerome Desrosiers of Northfield Mount Hermon. As a freshman Jerome also  played only limited minutes, but you can tell the talent is there and he is already 6’6 with a solid frame. In the future he could easily develop into a big time high major power forward prospect.


6. How did the talent level measure up this year as opposed to in year’s past?

KF: The past three to four years here have been a gold mine. This is the event in which Shabazz Napier made a name for himself, Nerlens Noel and Andre Drummond went head to head, and Michael Carter-Williams cemented himself as a star. We’ve seen Mo Harkless, Ricky Ledo, Kaleb Tarczewski, Steven Adams, Wayne Selden, Georges Niang, Naadir Tharpe, CJ Fair, Will Barton, Khem Birch, Dion Waiters and on and on and on.

This year’s group didn’t seem to have the top level NBA lottery pick level talent of year’s past, but the overall depth of the showcase is what’s most impressive. Countless Division I prospects were playing in Providence this weekend.

CL: There was no big time top 10 player like a Nerlens Noel or Andre Drummond this year, but I thought the overall talent level was just about as good as other years. Some of the players in the 2016 and 2017 classes, in particular, could develop into stars in the future.


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