Prep Profile - Bridgton Academy
Class AAA of the NEPSAC is down to just five teams this year as South Kent School has moved to AA and after having profiled Brewster Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon, St. Thomas More, and New Hampton School over the course of the last week it is time to turn our attention to Bridgton Academy.
The narrative really hasn’t changed at Bridgton in recent years as the former NEPSAC powerhouse has been relegated to strive for the role of giant killer as their lack of financial aid dollars has prevented them from competing for the championships they dominated a decade ago.
The only common denominator among those distinct generations has been head coach Whit Lesure, a true legend of prep school basketball, who continues to approach the job with no less enthusiasm than he did when his roster was comprised by a collection of mid to high-major prospects.
Other than Lesure, there are none. Not even the assistant coach returns from last season and ultimately that is just part of what has made the Wolverines’ challenge so daunting in recent years. Not only have they been constrained by a lack of resources but also a lack of continuity as the school’s commitment to a post-graduate only program has always caused them to start from scratch each fall.
On a team full of newcomers the most notable is Fardaws Aimaq, a 6-foot-11 big man who comes south from Canada and already holds multiple division I offers. Aimaq is skilled with inside-out tools and he’ll be asked to hold down the interior this year for the Wolverines.
Connor Cullen, a versatile 6-foot-5 native of Iowa, has been one of the team’s top forwards to date. A tough and rugged player with a downhill style, Cullen hangs his hat on daily productivity. Charlie Considine, a 6-foot-6 local product from Pembroke (MA) is cut from a similar cloth. He’s strong, pretty versatile, and looking forward to making a name for himself this season. Jacob Tully is a 6-foot-6 forward from Old Saybrook (CT) should also see consistent time.
David DeMarcus is one of the team’s better wings. The Kentucky native is predictably sound fundamentally with good perimeter size and a solid skill set to make shots and put the ball on the floor. Calvin Carter, who won Gatorade Player of the Year honors last year in the state of Vermont, will be another noteworthy addition on the perimeter but he’s been held out to date while recovering from a summer injury.
Chuka Mekkam comes cross country from Oregon and should be one of the team’s more impactful guards. Mekkam has a good build and clear scholarship caliber tools that he’ll look to put on display on both ends of the floor this year. Miles Oliver is a playmaking guard from California who hadn’t yet arrived in town when we visited open gym but is expected to be another D1 prospect and big addition to the team.
At Bridgton, underclassmen are a rarity to say the least. The closest thing you may find is a multi-year player and this year that’s Ryan Salzberg, a true senior who plans to return next year as a post-grad. Salzberg has good perimeter size and length, the tools to be an immediate asset for the Wolverines this year, and the potential to play his way into scholarship offers in the class of 2019.
This is a roster with good positional balance in that there’s appropriate depth along the frontline, on the wing, and in the backcourt. There’s also a clear hierarchy from a talent perspective as Aimaq and Oliver should be best suited to play leading roles and form a potentially dangerous inside-out one-two punch with guys like Cullen, DeMarcus, Mekkam, and Salzberg comprising the rest of the core.
Regardless of who is on the roster, there are some themes that tend to play out every year at Bridgton. One, this is a team that is going to learn and improve as the game goes on. Two, they are all bound to make gains with their bodies, not just by getting stronger in the weight room but by increasing their overall conditioning.
They aren’t going to win the NEPSAC this year but that hasn’t been a realistic goal in quite some time. What they are likely to do is help numerous players take their games to new levels, earn them more opportunities to play in college, and collectively become more than the sum of their individual parts.