Prep Profile – Worcester Academy
September 18th, 2009
New England Recruiting Report
This year’s Worcester Academy team will have a brand new look with only two players returning from last season.
It is the beginning of a new era at Worcester Academy.
For the first time in four years this year’s roster doesn’t include names like Carroll, Crenca, Martin, or Dolphin.
Last year’s graduating seniors had been the face of the Worcester program since arriving as sophomores, but a new day has dawned with head coach Ed Reilly’s current roster being comprised by a nice blend of youth and experience.
This year’s team will be based around the local duo of Billy Baron and Tyler Olander. The two are already plenty familiar with one another after starring together last spring and summer with Expressions Elite. In fact, both players were instrumental in Expressions’ great run throughout the month of July.
With only two players returning from last year’s roster, this is a group in need of leadership, and Baron is just the player to provide it. His work-ethic, toughness, and will to win will set a great example for the young players on the team and help them get adjusted to a league as competitive as Class A of the NEPSAC.
But Baron’s contributions figure to go far beyond just his leadership. The Rhode Island native will have the ball in his hands and will presumably be the team’s primary playmaker in the backcourt. He showed this summer that is a role he can flourish in and Coach Reilly is clearly expecting nothing less than a duplicate performance this season. Baron also has a number of high major schools set to check him out this fall as Notre Dame, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, Seton Hall, and Penn State are all set to visit the Worcester Academy gym.
Olander is another guy who is popular with the college coaches. The six-foot-nine forward claims offers from UConn, Providence, Marquette, Penn State, and Vanderbilt and is bound to pick up a few more over the course of the season. The Connecticut native’s game continues to expand at a consistent rate as he can attack the defense in a variety of different ways now. He’s a very good catch-and-shoot player from the perimeter with improved ability to score in the paint and create his own shot from the perimeter with a variety of jab fakes, pivots, and pull-up jumpers.
This year’s Worcester Academy team also has a distinct international feel. Six-foot-eight forward Robert Gilchrist is a player who college coaches are quickly becoming familiar with. The native of London, England is a freak athlete who gives Worcester a different dimension then they’ve had in the past. His explosiveness gives him a very high upside in this game and while his impact at WA will be limited to his post-graduate year, his best basketball is still a couple of years ahead of him.
However, Canadian native Olivier-Paul Betu, a six-foot-one junior guard, will have the benefit of spending two years at the Class A school. Betu is an instinctive playmaker with some surprising springs. He brings great creativity with him to the floor and will rise up and dunk on an unsuspecting defender.
Joining Betu and Baron in the backcourt will be Christophe Varidel, a lights out shooter from Switzerland. Varidel was held out of action with a minor injury the day we watched WA go up and down but you could tell just from shooting drills that this guy doesn’t miss when left unchecked.
Patrick Ackerman returns to Worcester for his junior season and looks poised to inherit the starting center position. Ackerman has obviously put in a ton of hard work in the last year and has consequently improved by leaps and bounds. He’s established himself as a definite division I recruit in that time and should only continue to improve as his work ethic shows no signs of slowing down.
Other players expected to contribute this year include: Canaan Severin, the athletic six-foot-three swingman who transferred from Marlboro High School and is doing double duty playing football in the fall; Russell Deremer who comes to Worcester as a post-graduate from St. Andrew’s in Rhode Island; Adam Smith-Butts who is a combo-forward with a tremendous body and good defensive potential; and Josh Peter the second returning member of last year’s varsity team.