Friday, July 8, 2011

VT Class of 2013 could be something special...

Now that we have finally gotten through the Top 10 of Last 10...its time to start talking about some local, current hoops!

The class of 2013 in the Green Mtn. State is shaping up to be a very talented group. To look at what some of these players have already accomplished, and to know they still have two seasons left to reak havoic on opponents is just flat out scary. Multiple state titles, and Final's appearances is something this class can already add to their promising resumes.

When thinking about talented class's as a whole, the graduates of 2009 may be one of the best groups this state has seen in sometime. The likes of Jon Golberg, Nick Meunier, Clancy Rugg, Shane Norris, Grant White, Mark Comstock and others was an extremely talented crew and showed this by beating up on counter state rival New Hampshire in the Twin State game that year. The annual Rotary classic could always serve as a measuring stick as to how good VT's seniors really were that particular year. Unfortunately that game is no longer so we will now have to base this on what these players do during their seasons, and careers at their schools. I don't know if the class of 2013 can top that of 2009, but by the looks of things they are going to give them a competitive look!

Here is a look at some of the serious talent the Class of 2013 has to offer...keep a look out for some of these guys over the next two years!

Matt St. Amour - 6'2" SG - Missisqoui Valley
St. Amour has had an incredible first two seasons with the Thunderbirds. Just this past year the Soph. Sharpshooter led MVU to their first DII state title ever. He averaged just under 20ppg game this past season, finishing the year with an incredible performance in the State Semifinals at the Barre Aud against a tough MSJ team where he dropped 31 points despite facing numerous double teams. He was the only Soph named to the BFP's All-State 2nd team, and was named the Lake division Co-Player of the year with BFA senior standout Nick Swim. Matt was also named tot he VBCA 2011 VT Dream Dozen team. It will be interesting to see what St. Amour does in his junior campaign now that the T-Birds have moved back to Division 1, and he has lost a lot of his supporting thought is he will do just fine!

Marcus Willingham - 6'4" PF - Rice Memorial
Willingham may have more potential than any other player in this class. Standing 6'4" his freakish athleticism allows him to play down in the blocks yet be one of the states most dangerous players our in the open court. He was an instrumental piece in Rice's run to the DI crown this year, starting all season for the Green Knights, and being the team’s lock-down defender. He was an All-Metro honorable mention in just his Soph year and also named to the VBCA 2011 VT Dream Dozen team. Look for Willingham to big things over the next two seasons at Rice...potentially leading them to a 2nd and maybe even third straight state championship.

Casey Tipson - 6' PG/SG - Rice Memorial
Tipson has started to build a reputation as being one of the toughest hardnosed guards Vermont has to offer. An extremely competitive combo guard, Tip can run the point, or be just as effective off the ball. Casey is the latest in the long line of Tipson's that have left a mark on the hoop scene here in VT. Extremely quick, aggressive, yet can consistently knock down the 3, he is dangerous whenever his hands are on the ball. Along with his teammate Willingham, Tip was also named All-Metro honorable mention in just his second season wearing the green and white, as well as being named to the VBCA 2011 Dream Dozen team. He was also a BFP All-State honorable mention.

Aary Bibens - 6'4" SF - Mt. Anthony
Bibens is the newest addition to Coach Dan Sleeman's arsenal in Bennington. The very long, athletic SF started for the Patriots this season, and was a consistent contributor in thier march to the DI final four at UVM. Behind Willingham, he may be the most gifted athlete in the class, and it has been said no one works harder on their game then Aary. Currently Bibens in playing for the Raptors AAU organization out of Albany, NY. If Bibens keeps improving his skill set, he has the athletic ability to dominate the Marble Valley league and be a serious collegiate prospect.

Tre Hysell - 5'10" PG - Rutland
Hysell is the definition of a floor general. This year at Rutland Hysell did a little of everything for Coach Wood and the Red Raiders. Playing the point behind senior 1st team All-State player Troy Davine, Hysell found ways to be effective off the ball playing the 2, and improving his stroke from 3 point land. But Hysell is a true PG and without question be handling the rock for DI powerhouse Rutland for the next two seasons. Very strong, and quick for his size, Tre finds ways to get in the lane and create for his teammates when he is not finishing at the rim. He had an outstanding performance in the state finals against Rice where he had 11 points, and 6 steals. Tre has the potential to be the top PG in the state for the next two years!

Josh Claflin - 5'9" PG - Hartford
Claflin may have a thing or two to say about his Lone Wolf AAU teammate Hysell being the top PG prospect in the state. The 5'9" PG is an absolute lightening bolt getting up and down the floor. As quick and strong as they come, Claflin uses his speed to attack the rim and constantly beat his defenders of the dribble. As just a sophomore, Claflin was named to the B Division 1st team All-Marble Valley league this past season. A standout on the gridiron as well for DI power Hartford, head hoop coach Mike Gaudette should feel pretty comfortable with his PG situation for the next two seasons.

It will certainly be interesting to see who rises to the top of this outstanding class, keep your eye on these names…they should all be making big things happen on the high school hardwood for the next two seasons here in Vermont.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's been a while....

So I have to first apologize for the ridiculous amount of time in between my last post and now. It’s been a very busy spring with the AAU season, clinics, 1-1 work etc. However, I would like to finish up my Top 10 of the last 10 entries with the grand daddy of them all, the top 10 HIGH SCHOOL players in the last 10 years.

Now I and my other VT hoop guru's have been going back and forth over this for a while, debating not necessarily who the best 10 players of the last decade were, (we were able to agree on the vast majority of them) but more so what is the criteria? Is it strictly opinion (well obviously its opinion based, but its nice to be able to back up your argument) or is it based on player accolades and state titles? Is it based on pure talent and athletic ability? How about the question of what these guys did after their high school careers? Does that come into play at all? If you’re a hoop nut like me, you can see where this debate (although really not that important at all) could become seriously heated and go on for much longer then one would think.

I have decided that this will be based on one question, and one question alone. Who was the best "basketball player" of this time period? The player that if you were choosing a team, you would probably select 1st overall. It's not necessarily who the strongest player was, or the smartest, or who won the most state titles, or who did what in their college careers. Realistically all this should come into play to give you what one might consider the best basketball player...if you know what I'm saying.

So upon much debate, many arguments, and WAY too much time spent on this, here is the Green Mountain Hoops Top 10 Players of the last 10 years. I'm sure I have to remind no one that this is strictly opinion based, and hopefully will lead to many of your own opinions in the comments section...don’t be shy!

# 10 Jon Goldberg - PG - Rice Memorial - Class of 2009
It's very hard to not include Jon in this group. Although he was by no means one of the best athletes in this group, he had maybe one of the highest hoop IQ's. It doesn't hurt the fact he lead Rice to two Division 1 State titles in his 3 years while enrolled there. He was also an All-State selection 3 times, and has now just finished his Soph. year at St. Lawrence. A very heady PG, and at 6'4" was a rare breed in VT High school hoops.

# 9 David Ball - SF - Spaulding - Class of 2002
By far the best athlete the state has seen on the hardwood in the last decade, Ball was part of arguably the best duo this state has ever seen playing along side of Mike Perez. A 6'4" slasher who could literally jump out of the building, he was an instrumental piece in Spaulding's last state title back in 2002. He was a 1,000 pt scorer and an All-State selection who went on to star on both the football and basketball court at Worcester Academy before eventually breaking Jerry Rice's national touchdown record as a wide receiver @ UNH. What is not mentioned much about Ball's game at SHS was his defensive abilities, one of the best Vermont has seen in a long time!

# 8 Chad Powlovich - SG/SF - Mt. Mansfield - Class of 2004
Powlovich was an extremely versatile player at the high school level. Big and strong enough to play in the post, but skilled enough to handle the ball on the perimeter which he did often for Coach Jeff Davis. A multiple year All-State selection, and member of the VT vs. NH Twin State game, Chad went on to score over 1,300 pts for MMU and was named the BFP's "Mr. Basketball" in 2004 before having a solid 4 year career at UVM.

#7 BJ Robertson - SG - Burlington - Class of 2002
Bj may be one of the most talented players to ever play for the Sea Horses. He led BHS to the finals at UVM 3 of his 4 years, winning a title in 2001 over a strong Spaulding team. He scored over 1,400 points in his career and was named the BFP "Mr. Basketball" in 2002. Bj then went on to have a great 4 year career at Saint Mikes, before playing for Vermont's only professional Basketball team, the Vermont Frost Heaves from 2005-2007. He now coaches for the VT Cats AAU organization in Burlington.

#6 Kyle Cieplicki - PG/SG - Rice Memorial - Class of 2003
Maybe one of the most basketball savvy players this state has ever seen, Kyle followed suite in the long list of Cieplicki's that have dominated Vermont basketball for years. As just a sophomore, he helped lead Rice to a state title over rival Burlington in 2000. He then went on to be a first team All-State selection as well as being named the BFP's "Mr. Basketball" in 2003. All this before an incredible career at UVM, where he was the first ever Catamount to be named a team captain for 3 straight years. Ever spending a season as the Director of Operations at Brown University, Kyle is now an assistant coach back in Catamount Country!

#5 Joe O'shea - SG - Burlington - Class of 2010
The most recent active player to make the list, Joe O'shea was one of the first players ever to be crowned "Mr. Basketball" as a sophomore in 2008. He then regained that title in 2010 becoming one of the only three players in the last 30 years to be labeled the state top hoopster twice in their high school career.  He managed to play in the division 1 final all 4 years while at BHS, winning a title in 2008. Joe scored just shy of 1,500 points over his career as a seahorse and has been labeled as one of the best pure shooters this state has seen in a long time. After accepting a full scholarship to Holy Cross, Joe transferred to Bryant University where he will suit up next season.

#4 Taylor Coppenrath - C - St. Johnsbury Academy - Class of 2000
If you have lived in the state of Vermont at any point over the last decade, even if you don't follow hoops you know the name Taylor Coppenrath. The 6'9" center will always be remembered by Catamount fans everywhere after the remarkable career he had at UVM. Coppenrath actually did not play varsity basketball at St. Jay until his junior year, but was a force his last two seasons there being named VT' "Mr. Basketball" his senior year when he lead the Hilltoppers to a final four appearance. He then went on to UVM where after a redshirt freshman year put together a storied career that will stand out in the UVM record books forever. He led UVM to 3 straight America East conference Championships, finishing his career 2nd on UVM scoring list at 2,422 points. He was also finalist for the John Wooden award his senior year. He is still currently playing professional basketball in Spain.

#3 Tyrone Conley - SG - Burlington - Class of 2007
Ty Conley could very easily be #1 on this list. At his 4 years at Burlington he led his team to the D1 finals 3 of those years, winning a title in 2006. Athletic, strong, extremely quick and very skilled, Conley was as tough a perimeter player there is. He was named the states "Mr. Basketball" in 2007 and left Burlington as the schools all-time leading scorer with 1556 points, surpassing names to the likes of Bob Sweeney, and Bj Robertson. Conley accepted a full-ride to UNH where he has had a great career starting for the Wildcats the past two seasons. He may be one of the greatest talents to ever play in a Seahorse uniform.

#2 Matt Glass - SF - Mt. Mansfield - Class of 2006
Glass may have the best actual resume out of this whole group. He too, along with Conley could have grabbed the number 1 spot on this list, and not many would have argued. In his 4 years at MMU not only did he score over 1,000 points, but he led the Cougars to back to back State Championships in 2004 and 2005 and in the process was named "Mr. Basketball" in those back to back years. An extremely skilled player for standing 6'8", Glass could hurt you shooting the three, and dominate you in the paint. After his career at MMU he went onto play one post-grad year at the prestigious Northfield Mt-Hermon Prep school, before accepting a scholarship to UMASS. Glass then later transferred back home to UVM where he currently is still playing.

#1 Mike Perez - SG/SF - Spaulding - Class of 2002
As I mentioned before 1, 2 and 3 on this list is probably pretty interchangeable, but no one, absolutely no one brought excitement to a high school gym like Perez did in the early part of this decade. The 6'4" SF dominated virtually everyone he faced leading the Tide to back to back State Finals appearances and winning a title in 2002. Extremely athletic, quick, and with unlimited range, Perez was the most gifted offensive talent this state has seen in years...hands down. His athleticism and skill set made him almost un-guardable on the perimeter. He was a multi-year 1st team All-state selection and left the Granite City scoring just shy of 1,500 points. He was a household name in Central VT, and to this day could not walk into a gym almost anywhere without people knowing who he is. The high flying act that he and David Ball put on for 4 years at Spaulding had never been seen in the Green Mountain State, and may never be matched again. Following his high school career Mike suffered a devastating Knee injury while training with VT legend Steve Pratt at Full Package athletics in Chicago. He then later enrolled at SUNY Cobleskill but physically was never the same.
This list, as all of my lists are, was based solely on opinion. I have been around basketball in the state of Vermont my whole life, as a player, a coach, a writer, and a fan and I have yet to see an individual talent such as Mike Perez.

Comments? Opinions?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Top 10 of Last 10 - Point Guards

I have to apologize for the delay on our PG list. This was a tough list, for there have been some pretty good Point Guards over the past 10 years. There were def some close calls. Really when you get down to the top 3-4, it really could have gone either way.  Let the comments, suggestions and hate mail start to pour in!

Point Guards 2000-2010

10. Muji Karim - Burlington (2001)
9.   Kyle McQuarrie - Proctor (2008)
8.  Troy Davine - Rutland - (2011)
7.  John Dellipriscoli - Montpelier (2003)
6.  Greg Hughes - West Rutland (2004)
5.  Nick Landrigan - Rice Memorial (2002)
4.  Shane Norris - Burlington (2009)
3.  John Goldberg- Rice Memorial (2009)
2.  Kyle Callahan - Brattleboro - (2010)
1.  Florien Rexhepi - St. Johnsbury (2003)

Honorable Mentions: Jamie Moore - Colchester (2002), Jake Donnelly - CVU (2011), Sam Brigham - Montpelier (2010), Scott Sheldon - Arlington (2000), Jason Leonard - Middlebury (2000), Chris Cassidy - Brattleboro (2002).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Top 10 of Last 10 - Shooting Guards

I received an interesting "note" (we will call it) from an old acquaintance of mine. Actually a guy I used to play some ball with, but really haven't stayed in touch with. He was all upset over the previous rankings, and how there wasn't enough players from southern VT listed. The whole vibe he was giving what that of the never-ending "the south gets no respect in Vermont Basketball..." (blah, blah, blah) story that (at least for most the people I talk hoops with) are tired of hearing. This was pretty strange considering this guy was from the north (at least central VT) and played his HS hoops there. Regardless, concerning his beef with the Centers, PF's, and SF's list...yeah maybe he does have a legitimate gripe (that is of course if he never saw the statement I made time and time again that this was strictly OPINION based) that there isn't that many guys listed from the South. There were only 3 guys who played at Southern VT high schools in my first 30 players listed (Aj Mahar, Grant White & Kyle Henry). But lets be many of the guys I have listed could you make a legitimate argument for someone to take their place? By all means...please do...hell I ask for comments and suggestions all the time!
This did however get me thinking how much of a difference is there really from the North and the South in terms of Talent? I really don't want to dive into this, for god knows it could start a small brush fire down in Bennington, or Manchester, so I decided to just state some facts. I would tend to guess we would all believe that when it really comes down to it, good players, make great teams.  Its really not that much of the coaching, or the competition level, its a simple fact that the team with more talented players tend to be better, therefore are more successful.  Makes sense to me anyway...
So how do you measure success in a Vermont High school program? The number of All-State players that a high school produces? How about the number of college players it may produce? POY awards? Sure while all that sounds great...and personal player accolades may sound sexy...lets be honest...Banners are really the only thing that matters.  State Championships...that is what defines the great teams, or schools from others. So I took a look at the last 10 years, the same previous 10 years that I have been creating my top 10 lists from (notice I said MY lists, as in MY opinion) and who won state titles. Out of the last 40 banners that were handed out from 2000-2010 (Divisions 1-4) I wanted to know exactly how many went to the North, and how many went to the South. I think the numbers speak for themselves...well at least if we are all believers that the best teams, the ones who win titles are made up of the best players. In the last decade, out of the 40 state titles that were handed out...29 of them have stayed (basically) North of Exit 4 on I-89. For all those mathematicians out there, that means only 11 have headed south. The scary thing is 5 of those 11 banners are hanging in Proctor's gym. Here's the break down...

Division 1 Titles:
North 10      South 0

Division 2 Titles:
North 6    South 4

Division 3 Titles:
North 8   South 2

Division 4 Titles
North 5
South 5

I hate to get into all of this...but I did feel I had to show some support for my reasoning. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of great players from Southern, VT, and there always has been. Maybe there just wasn't quite as many between 2000-2010...just saying......

Not to get side tracked and take anything away from the star-studded list of shooting guards (because it is a GOOD one) is my list....

Shooting Guards 2000-2010

10. Matt St. Amour (2013) (yeah... he will be that good when its said and done)
9. Mike Cioffi - Rice (2003)
8.  Jed Thibault - Burlington (2000)
7.  Canden Rusin - Twin Valley (2008)
6. Geri Gulliory - Burlington (2004)
5. Bj Robertson - Burlington (2002)
4. Kyle Cieplicki - Rice (2003)
3. Joe O'Shea - Burlington (2010)
2. Tyrone Conely - Burlington (2007)
1. Mike Perez - Spaulding (2002)

PG's on deck!.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Top 10 of Last 10 - Small Forwards

This was an extremely difficult group to rank. Similar to the Power Forwards, its tough to really define the difference between say a big 2 guard, and a small 3.  Regardless all the guys on this list can seriously hoop. Virtually of all of them were 1,000 pt scorers, All-State selections, as well as members of the VT/NH All-Star games. I feel there were a couple of guys I couldn't leave out, so I am adding a few honorable mentions to this group. Next to the two guards (which I don't even want to begin thinking about) this is probably the most talented group of this entire list. There were some real tough decisions. Feedback as always...more then welcome!

Small Forwards 200-2010

10. Dj Campbell- Winooski (2008)
9.  Michael Buxton - St. Johnsbury (2001)
8.  Jessie Epstein - Vergennes (2003)
7.  Demir Smajovic - Essex (2010)
6.  Dana Martin - Stowe (2000)
5.  John Cody - Montpelier (2001)
4.  Grant White - Springfield (2009)
3.  David Ball - Spaulding (2002)
2.  Tim Shedd - Hazen (2000)
1.  Chad Powlovich - Mt. Mansfield (2004)

Honorable Mentions: John Chaloux - Spaulding (2006) Mark Comstock -Rutland (2009) Chris Magistrale - South Burlington (2002) Kevin Labas - Mt. Abe (2008) Tyler Kathan - Springfield (2005)

Coming up next is the dreaded 2 guard. Not looking forward to it.  With names like Perez, Robertson, Cieplicki, Rusin, O'Shea, and Conely...should be a very interesting list.

Sign up and follow!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Top 10 of Last 10 - Power Forward edition!

In continuing my series Top 10 of Last 10, I am moving on to The Power Forward position. This was an interesting list, for its tough to really define what makes a guy a true 4, a true banger, someone who is going to get physical, clean up the glass and do the dirty work. Allot of the guys on this list could not only do these things, but also block shots, run the floor, and put the ball in the hole. In fact 8 of these 10 guys were 1,000 point scorers! We may have missed 1 or 2, but I think this list is fairly accurate!

Feedback is always welcome!

Power Forwards 2000-2010

10.Justin Norris - BFA St. Albans (2000)
9.  Billy Boyd - Hazen (2010)
8.  Kevin Brosseau - Rice Memorial (2003)
7. Tj Bottiggi - Montpelier (2000)
6. Jason Gray - Thetford Academy (2009)
5. Kyle Henry - Brattleboro (2003)
4. Connor Merrill - Vergennes (2010)
3. Aj Mahar - Mt. Anthony (2004)
2. Nate Anderson - CVU (2000)
1. Matt Glass - Mt. Mansfield (2006)

Small Forwards up next!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

TOP 10 of the LAST 10

Since the winter hoop season has come to an end, I had to come up with something else to write about. A recent rumor I have heard (actually from a few different sources) about the annual VT/NH Twin state game coming to an abrupt end after 30 successful years got me thinking about all the great players that have played in that game. Its really too bad to see such a great event come to an end, for I know some of this years seniors have probably been looking forward to playing in this game for the last 4 years. I had the opportunity to play a role in this game just a few years ago, it was a tremendous honor, and an experience I wont forget.  I will be sure to have a more in depth write up regarding the (what would have been) 31st Annual Merchants Bank Twin State Rotary Classic, once I have confirmed more details.

Regardless, as I mentioned this got me thinking about all the great players that have played in this game. The state has had some great talent over the years. Now if there are any other VT Hoop Heads out there such as I claim to be, I would have to imagine at some point a conversation has come up about the top players this state has ever seen...of all-time that is. Names like Dalrymple, Cieplicki and Johnson have surely come up. What I would like to do, to keep it a little fresher and a little more geared to maybe a more youthful audience, is discuss the top 10 players this state has seen over the last 10 years. Top 10...over the last 10. Who would they be?
This series of entries will be dedicated (in my humble opinion) to the top VT HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS this state has seen over the last decade. Now as you can see there is an emphasis on HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS...players careers in HIGH SCHOOL.  This will not have anything to do with players college careers. It will not concern what they have accomplished on or off the court after their high school stints.  It doesn't matter if a guy has had a 3 year pro career, or he is now working in a factory job somewhere. This is strictly based on there high school resume.
Over the next week I will name the top 10 players by position, the top 10 single teams the state has seen, as well as the top 10 High school programs and of course my top 10 overall players from the last 10 years. The only criteria...they have played at least 1 season for a VT high school sometime between 2000 and 2010.
This should be interesting......

My First entry will be the big fellas...the top 10 Centers in the last 10 years....(ranked in order)

CENTERS 2000-2010

10. Alex Snyder - Rutland (2011)
9. Billy Welcome - Hazen (2000)
8. Chad Copeland - Twinfield (2012)
7. Sebastian Brandsetter - North Country (2008)
6. Alex Lloyd - Rice Memorial (2000)
5. Nick Meunier - Rice Memorial (2009)
4. Clancy Rugg - Burlington (2009)
3. Pat Bergman - Rice Memorial (2007)
2. Chris Cayole - Rice Memorial (2003)
1. Taylor Coppenrath - St. Johnsbury (2000)

As always this is strictly opinion based...and always open to comments and other opinions or thoughts!

Check out tomorrow as we reveal our top 10 Power Fowards!