Prep Countdown: No. 9 Brewster Academy

Two years ago, no one gave Brewster Academy much of a chance to win the NEPSAC - and they advanced all the way to the title game. This year's team is almost a carbon copy of that squad - and Brewster coach Jason Smith is hoping for a similar result.

The bad news for Jason Smith was that his lone true big man, Cem Dinc, opted to sign with Indiana rather than coming to Brewster Academy. The good is that Smith's team is eerily similar to the squad that earned a spot in the NEPSAC Class A title game two years ago.

``This team reminds me so much of that team," Smith said. "In terms of personality, chemistry and versatility."

That team didn't have much size, either. In fact, Adrian Joseph was the tallest player on the court for Brewster much of the time at 6-foot-7 and change.

Brewster will be led by swingman Will Harris (6-6, 225), a versatile New York native who spend last season at Maine Central Institute. Harris will likely start at the small forward spot, but may have to defend bigger players due to necessity.

The only other player on the team who is basically a shoe-in to start is 6-foot-2 ½, 180-pound point guard Dodie Dunson, a one-time Illinois State signee from Bloomington Ill, who has re-opened his recruitment.

``He's the happiest kid on the planet," Smith said. "He's always positive and has terrific leadership abilities. He brings people up, makes people play hard and is competitive and unselfish. What really separates him is his ability to pass the ball."

The final three starting spots are up for grabs and there is no shortage of candidates.

Kyle Wright is a returnee who has improved dramatically from a year ago. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Connecticut native is versatile and can shoot the ball from the perimeter. Niko Scott is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound shooting guard who played last season at Christ the King (N.Y.) and had committed to Columbia before deciding to open things up.

Xavier Silas (Colorado) will also have a shot to earn a starting spot. Silas is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound swingman from Austin, Texas, whose father, James, played in the NBA.

Ultra-athletic sophomore Emannuel Negedu, a sculpted 6-foot-7, 220-pound sophomore from Nigeria, could make his way into the starting lineup because of his ability to rebound and guard physical players.

``He's an energy guy," Smith said of Negedu, who is already attracting high-major interest due to his athleticism. "He plays hard, isn't afraid of contact and is one of the top five or so players in the country in terms of athleticism. He's got a pretty special upside."

Don't count out Brian Grimes, the 6-foot-6 ½, 210-pound Germantown Academy (Pa.) product, out of the equation. Grimes (LaSalle) has improved over the past year – especially on the perimeter.

Mike Freeman and Rainer Blickle are frontcourt guys who should get extensive playing time. Freeman is fairly well-traveled and just needs to learn how to play hard all the time while Blickle (Winthrop) is an unheralded 6-foot-7, 190-pound post-grad from Mauldin, South Carolina who is receiving Ivy League interest. Other players expected to give Brewster depth are Kendrick Easley (6-1, 180), the son of former NFL safety Kenny Easley; Mitchell Yoshitake (6-2, 175), Chad Wilson (5-11, 180), Marc Sobrepera (6-7, 185) and Will Riley (6-0, 175). ``We don't have a dominating 6-9 or 6-10 post player, but I don't necessarily see that as being a major problem," Smith said. "We haven't really had it for the last two years. We had five guards two years ago – and as long as we rebound as a team this year, I think we have enough guys who can get it done."

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