Prep Countdown: No. 3 South Kent School

Raphael Chillious has watched as some pretty high-level talent has come through the doors in his first two seasons at South Kent (Conn.), but it pales in comparison to what he has in his stable this time around.

For the past two seasons since taking the reigns at South Kent (Conn.), Raphael Chillious had watched his star player head directly to the NBA. First it was Dorell Wright. Then Andray Blatche.

Chillious doesn't have that kind of player this season, but this team will, in all likelihood, be more successful.

``I think this is clearly the best team I've had, especially when you consider the talent from top to bottom," Chillious said. "It's rare that your 15th guy can go in and play like your seven or eighth guy."

``I think not having a player who is thinking about the NBA will help the other guys," added Chillious. "It's not like it was a distraction for Dorell or Andray, but it may have been a distraction for the other kids on the team."

``Guys on this team clearly know that the ball has to go through three guys – Matthew (Bryan-Amaning), Gil (Gilbert Brown) and Robby (Rob Thomas)," he continued. "But at the same time, if those guys aren't doing it, we have other guys capable of stepping up."

However, as Chillious alluded to – the trio that will likely lead the team is senior forwards Gilbert Brown (Pittsburgh) and Rob Thomas (South Florida), along with junior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning.

Brown is a steal for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers. He's a 6-6 swingman who is a big-time athlete and has a much-improved jump shot. Thomas is a 6-foot-6 combo forward who was arguably the top player in the prep ranks two years ago before he lost much of the explosiveness that made him so dominant. Thomas is back in shape and appears primed for a breakout season.

Bryan-Amaning hails from England is a 6-foot-8 ½ combo forward spending his second season at South Kent. But unlike last season, when he was a role player who deferred to Blatche, Bryan-Amaning is far more aggressive and should be a force this year.

Chillious also has a much-improved point guard situation than a year ago. Michael Walker, a 6-foot, 190-pound junior from Iowa City West High (Iowa), is the odds-on favorite to start. But he'll get plenty of competition from Norm Nixon, a 6-foot, 175-pound guard out of Crossroads (Calif.) and physical Travis King, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound combo guard from New Haven, Conn.

``We've got a three-headed monster where each guy gives us a little something different," Chillious said.

It doesn't stop there, either. Chillious also has a half-dozen foreign players that are all talented enough to make an impact – but numbers could force a few of the younger guys to wait their turn.

Hermann Apoku is the only senior of the bunch. He's a 6-foot-8, 200-pound combo forward from Austria who possesses terrific athleticism and is drawing interest from Georgia and Rhode Island.

Dragoslav Papic is the team's top outside shooter. He came over with his countryman, 6-foot-6 shooting guard Uros Apic, from Serbia. Papic is 6-foot-8 and needs to get used to the speed of the game in the United States, but he's one of the top perimeter shooters in the entire Class of 2007.

Juniors Papa Dia and Ayodele "Dele" Coker will be two guys who definitely figure to receive playing time. Dia is a 6-foot-9, 230-pound versatile and skilled forward who barely played after arriving from Senegal midway through last season while Coker is a strong, 6-foot-10 Nigerian who will get better with repetition.

Another big man who figures to get plenty of playing time is former Bishop Loughlin big man Christian Morris, a 6-foot-8 ½, 270-pound center who played at Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.).

Chillious will also look to thin 6-8 South Korean Jin Soo Kim, 6-foot shooting guard Jamell Walker and freshman Dominique Farmer for depth.

``The only thing I really worry about is that we're probably the youngest team in prep school basketball," Chillious said. "If we're going to get caught off-guard, it'll be early."

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