10 Most Exciting Players in New England
Words. Lucas Shapiro
As much as the Boston Celtics have put an indelible stamp on basketball history, the New England area hasn’t been known as a prolific breeding ground for basketball talent. In recent years, though, New England has been pumping out solid Division I players from the high school ranks, and right now the area may be at its most talented.
While we showed you one such top-level prospect recently, here are New England’s 10 most exciting players to watch this season:
10. NAADIR THARPE, Brewster Academy (NH), 2011
The true point guard continues to be a rare entity in the basketball world. Tharpe, a former Providence commit, is a floor general by definition and arguably the best playmaker in New England. Last season he helped carry Bresweter Academy to the National Prep championship alongside All-American wing Will Barton (Memphis). When he gets in the zone, not only is Tharpe going to dominate the box score, but his teammates will as well. What makes him special is his leadership and ability to make others around him better.
9. MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS, St. Andrew’s (RI), 2011
Take one look at this 6-5 combo guard off the court and you might instantly have doubts because of his skinny frame. But when you take one look at him on the court, your mind will change quickly. Offensively, Carter-Williams is very similar to Austin Rivers. He is a prolific scorer. He is committed to Syracuse and is one of the top players in the nation. At any moment, from anywhere on the court, he can hit shots with his unlimited range.
8. RICARDO LEDO, South Kent (CT), 2012
One word that comes to mind when describing Ledo is smooth. He handles the ball well and can jump out of the gym. The way he carries himself is similar to Kevin Durant. Since he is always in control, Ledo has great offensive awareness. The best part about Ledo’s game is his balance between being an polished player and one with a great deal of potential.
7. NERLENS NOEL, Tilton School (NH), 2013
There might not have been a player in the country who saw their stock rise as high this summer as Noel. Right now he is ranked the third-best player in the class of 2013, according to ESPN. His shot-blocking was a vital asset for BABC (AAU), who won the U-16 nationals in Orlando. Noel is a skinny 6-10 power forward who could follow in the same footsteps as former Tilton player Alex Oriakhi (UConn).
6. RYAN CANTY, Brimmer and May (MA), 2011
It is scary how similar Canty’s game is to Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s. He wants to dunk everything on offense and swat everything on defense. The 6-10 center played for Tilton last year, but transferred to Brimmer and May for his senior year. Few guys his size can jump like him, which is why he won this dunk contest.
5. JORDAN LAGUERRE, New Hampton (NH), 2011
Speaking of dunk contests, if you clicked on the link above, you would have seen Laguerre’s athleticism on display as well. The UMass commit fits in on a team that loves to run. If a big man is standing under the hoop, Laguerre is not afraid to get up and dunk on them. He can also hit difficult shots, such as his signature step-back jumper.
4. KURAN IVERSON, North Catholic (CT), 2013
Yes, he is related to Allen Iverson. This Iverson, however, has more natural physical tools than his older cousin. At 6-8, Kuran is a guard who can do virtually anything on the court. It seems that when he wants to be, he can be the most dominant underclassman in the country. It will be interesting to see what kind of player he is when he can put on more weight.
3. ALEX MURPHY, St. Mark’s (RI), 2012
Murphy’s basketball IQ makes him fun to observe. He is a mistake-free player who can do it all. Many have compared his game (and haircut) to Kyle Singler. There’s a reason why his new nickname is “White Flight.” Kansas, Arizona, Syracuse, Duke and Florida are on his list of suitors.
2. ANDRE DRUMMOND, St. Thomas More (CT), 2012
Drummond may be projected to be the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft already, but he checks in at No. 2 in New England’s most exciting players to watch. Drummond’s high-flying dunks and smooth touch remind people of Amar’e Stoudemire. He already has an NBA-ready body and is projected to be a one-and-done in college.
1. KHEM BIRCH, Notre Dame Prep (MA), 2012
Birch possesses freakish athleticism. At 6-9, nobody knows exactly what position he will play in the future, but he will be an effective and exciting player wherever he ends up. He can jump like Shawn Marion and block shots like Dwight Howard. It’s only a matter of time before Birch adds strength and develops a polished offensive game. Once that happens, watch out.
Honorable Mention: Wayne Selden (Tilton, 2014), Pat Connaughton (St. John’s, MA, 2011), Goodluck Okonoboh (Tilton, 2013).