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Massanutten Military Academy (Woodstock, VA)

Classification: Post-Grad

2017-18 Record: 32-4

 

 

Living a Bit Different

Before diving into the overall composition of the men’s basketball team, I have to point out the info I learned about how the players go about their days in Woodstock. This being the first post-grad program I’ve had to preview, I definitely arrived with questions about how the school life operates. The players typically wake up at 6am every morning to have breakfast no later than 6:30am. Afterwards, they head into classes starting at 8am and finish up around 11/11:30am. Depending on the rest of the day’s activities, the Colonels may have some time to unwind but usually practice early in the afternoon around 2pm. This serves a purpose so they can finish up before the other school teams take over the court. Outside of time on the floor, the team also goes through daily weightlifting and film sessions. In all, one can say post-grad have a bit more leeway in not having to go through a typically 8-hour school day filled with classes. Nevertheless, all this means is more time for the Colonels to focus on the task at hand: getting prepared for the lengthy season. No time to waste; the team has a grind similar to that of a college program.

 

Necessary Tools

The depth and appearance of the Colonels’ roster makes them draw attention immediately after they enter the vicinity. With a group of seven guys over 6’6,” their length makes them deadly on both sides of the ball. Head coach Chad Myers should have no trouble in making lineup rotations during the course of the season. Aside from their physical presence, I also couldn’t help but notice how well the players put the ball on the floor and create for others. This doesn’t come from just the guards as primary ball-handlers but also from wings and forwards too. One can gain a feel for the Colonels’ great familiarity with each other by simply looking at how well they move the ball; pretty much everybody has solid court vision on the floor. I wouldn’t call them a team that shoots great from long distance, but certain players can surely knock down such looks. Their transition and ball screen motion game works in some of the best ways; I anticipate them giving other programs trouble with their ‘high-low’ and ‘pick-and-roll’ execution. On the other side of the ball, they have such great versatility that all types of players can guard different positions. The coaching staff acknowledges how defense leads into offense so an emphasis on establishing an early defensive presence should quickly surface.

 

The (Very Tall) Backcourt

I couldn’t get over the size of Massanutten’s guards… they have the height and length of professionals already. Dereon Seabron comes in out of Norfolk, VA as one of the team’s most sought-after players from college programs. The 6’6” combo guard currently holds a handful of offers, such as Minnesota, East Carolina, VCU, Radford, Oklahoma State, among others. Massanutten’s coaching staff will look to transition him more into a point guard this year, which undoubtedly can create mismatches. A guy who can play both as a scoring guard or wing, Georgia native, Brandon Suggs, will do some damage as an electrifying 6’7” prospect who can create his own shot with ease and make his presence felt on the glass. Georgia Tech, East Carolina, Auburn, and Texas A&M all have extended offers. Recent VCU commit, Jarren McAllister, brings a lot of excitement to the Colonels’ squad with his freakish athleticism, highlight plays, defense, and toughness. His energy never shows a lapse and I see the 6’3” guard taking on a great leadership role considering how well he communicates on and off the floor. The Rams definitely picked up a good one. Maryland resident, Josh Jones, has the chance to emerge as one of the best shooters on the roster with his smooth lefty form that stretches out to deep range. He elevates on his shot with balance, shoots it quick, and can heat up quickly. I saw him knock down four consecutive three-pointers in a team scrimmage during my visit.

 

Other Guys Up in the Air

Jarvis Vaughan, a 6’8” forward, probably has the most impressive physical appearance out of the bunch when analyzing his combined strength, vertical leap, and body control. He especially does well in getting to the rim, mostly in transition, and scoring near the rim. If he gets a clear look, expect him to try and throw it down with some power. Vaughan’s recruitment now remains back open after he de-committed from Old Dominion University last month. Big man Mahamadou Diawara not only stands as the team’s tallest player at 6’10” but also the youngest; he’s the only high school senior within the roster. I see him having a big presence in the paint when considering his patience around the rim, touch, and solid footwork. The chemistry between him and Vaughan in ‘high-low’ action should also prove beneficial. Diawara’s wingspan should help him become a dominant rebounder; we could see plenty of double-doubles from him on stat sheets soon. Recent Osbourn High School (Manassas, VA) graduate, Connor Withers, has the perfect look of a stretch-4 man with his 6’7” frame. He gets it done on both ends and can spot up to shoot the long ball very well. I think he has the potential to stand out even more on defense with his reaction time and shot-blocking. Another Northern VA native (Fairfax, VA), Nate Spurlock, had one of the best days during my attendance in how well he scored within ten feet of the rim. The strong 6’8” forward can produce with either hand, rebounds strongly with both hands, and contests other shot attempts.

 

Who’s On the Schedule?

I had some raised eyebrows when analyzing the list of opposing teams matched up against the Colonels this season. For starters, they take on four college JV programs, including Hampden-Sydney, Roanoke, Eastern Mennonite, and University of North Carolina; they also play against the varsity squad of Hampden-Sydney College on December 6th at the Tigers’ home court. This being my first time looking at a post-grad team’s schedule, I had no idea they competed against colleges. Outside of this, Myers’ group will participate in several showcases. The National Prep Showcase (New Haven, CT), Holtzman Invitational (Woodstock, VA), D.C. National HoopFest (DeMatha Catholic HS), and IMG Beach Blast (Sarasota, FL) all have the Colonels on their invite lists. Competition against other notable prep programs, such as Hargrave Military and Fork Union, will also take place throughout the upcoming months.

 

Outlook

Even with their challenging schedule, the depth of Massanutten makes them a very intimidating bunch. What stood out to me most while watching them go to work for the first time pertains to how well they recognize each other’s tendencies. One may not expect to see this too much in a group of guys all playing their first season together; you’d think this year’s Colonels have been a unit for the last several seasons. Using their cohesion, physical tools, defensive presence, and focus, Massanutten should bring great excitement to Woodstock this winter. I spoke to a few of their players and received the same response from each when asked about team goals: “win a National Championship. Nothing less.”

 

 

 

The Colonels look ready to cook some things up…