Worcester Loaded Again

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Six Division I seniors are gone. The aura is not. Mo Cassara's current team at Worcester Academy appears poised to make a run at a third straight berth in the New England Prep "A" championship game.

Jarrett Jack is gone to Georgia Tech. Craig Smith is over at Boston College. Jason Chappell is out in Wisconsin. Darryl Pegram is at Indiana. Wes Wardrop is in L.A. at Loyola Marymount. And Brendan Winters is down at Davidson.

Back for another season, however, are Boston College-bound PG Stevie Hailey and solid mid-major PFs Sam Kaplan and Nick Stafford.

With the additions of high-major PG/SG Dwight Brewington, stocky SG/PG Carl Elliott (the erstwhile George Washington signee), SF Makan Konate (an intriguing wing from Mali) and PF/C J.R. Moore (a promising prospect from Portland, Ore.), Cassara's roster sports seven sure-fire DI kids.

"Everybody's here," the coach said with a laugh, "and nobody's gotten in any trouble yet. But this is a really good bunch of guys. I really like this group."

As well he should.

Cassara might use a three-guard set with Hailey, Brewington and Elliott -- all three of them are different in style and stature, but all three of them are plenty good -- or he might bring one of them off the bench and use Konate as a more traditional swingman and go with any combination of Stafford, Kaplan and Moore up front.

Charlie Jones, the younger brother of starting Citadel center Gregg Jones, is a 6-4 guard from Fort Washington, Md. He figures to provide added depth in the backcourt.

Same goes for 6-3 Greenfield, Mass., product Tim Burns, the younger brother of former UMass guard Ross Burns.

So options are aplenty -- even if the personnel is, obviously, a bit different.

"I'll score, rebound, play defense, but I'll also be a leader," said Kaplan, a terrific student who'll probably end up at an Ivy League school or Holy Cross. "I'm going to try to show everybody by example and bring the team together."

But can this team be as good as last year's?

The memorable 2001-02 squad went 27-4 and advanced to the New England Prep finals before losing to current North Carolina freshman Rashad McCants and the New Hampton (NH) School. It was the winningest season in the illustrious history of Worcester Academy basketball.

But don't worry: These kids know all about it. And now they want to piece together their own title run -- and end with a win this time around.

"We'll be going all the way," said Brewington, brimming with his usual confidence. "I don't care what anyone says. We will go all the way."

Scout Hoops Top Stories