Prep Tour: Notre Dame Prep

A year ago Bill Barton and his Notre Dame Prep squad won the mythical prep school national crown. Paul Harris is now at Syracuse, Lazar Hayward at Marquette and Derrick Caracter at Louisville, but Barton isn't overly concerned. In fact, he's smiling a lot more this year.

Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) finished last season winning the mythical prep school national title, yet Bill Barton smiles when he says, "this year we'll be back to having the type of team I like."

The bottom line is that Barton had too many high-profile guys last season. Paul Harris, Derrick Caracter. Even Mike Davis.

Barton would rather have guys like Deonte Roberts. Johnny Higgins. Damian Saunders. Guys with something to prove that come in minus a rep.

Barton does have one high-profile difference-maker this year in Michael Beasley, though.

Beasley is the talented forward from Maryland who played at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) last season and is already set to head to Manhattan, Kan., and play for Bob Huggins at Kansas State next season.

Roberts and Higgins will likely comprise the starting backcourt. The 6-foot-2 ½, 185-pound Roberts is committed to Wisconsin-Milwaukee while Higgins is a tough, scoring point guard who should get plenty of attention while playing at Notre Dame Prep this season.

Look for Saunders, who is a big-time athlete, to start at power forward and Beasley to play a lot of minutes in the middle. The leading candidate for the remaining starting spot may be Jamine "Greedy" Peterson, another athlete who played well this past summer with the Metro Hawks.

Barton likes to change his lineups early and often, so expect guys like Thomas Manzano and Greg Avila to earn their way into the starting lineup at times during the season. Manzano is a junior guard while Avila is a hard-nosed 6-foot-6, 240-pound power forward.

``I like our athleticism and the fact that we're going to get good guard play," Barton said. ``We have tough, hard-nosed kids who I think will have us back to playing good full-court pressure."

The biggest concern for Barton – as is the case with many prep school coaches – is how the team comes together in such a short period of time.

``There is only one ball and that worries me," Barton said. "Will the guys gel together? They have to learn how to share the basketball."

Barton usually has depth and this year is no different with guys like shooting guard Sedale Jones, Syracuse-bound 6-foot-11 big man Sean Williams, point guard Matt Garth, Stony Brook commit Riiny Ngot (7-1, 230), wings Marvin Billups and Corey Orgias and point guard Anthony Gill.

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