As the spring sports season heads toward its regular-season climaxes, postseason play awaits, and summer wood bat baseball is in the on-deck circle, time to circle back a bit on college and prep school news.
Former Monument Mountain basketball standout Dion Brown made a name for himself playing for Team New England in the Zero Gravity XL event at Spooky Nook in Manheim, Pa. Manheim is 85 miles west of Philadelphia and 35 miles east of Harrisburg. The team also played in the Southern Jam Fest, May 21-23 in Hampton, Va.
According to a piece on the website cityofbasketballlove.com, Brown and Team New England teammate Ademide Badmus had excellent tournaments in Pennsylvania.
Josh Verlin and the City of Basketball Love staff wrote the following about the rising senior at Vermont Academy:
"Brown had an excellent weekend at Spooky Nook, as the 6-2 guard played in confident control game after game. A smooth, athletic combo guard, Brown did just about everything: he hit outside shots at a good clip, then used that to get defenders off their feet with some hesitation and attack the rim, where showed a deft ability to finish with both hands; he defended at a high level; found his teammates in transition; finished above the rim, and more. Like his AAU teammate, Brown had only one D-I offer from Bryant, and then picked up another one from UMBC at the weekend’s conclusion. If he keeps up that level of play this summer, he’s bound to get more."
Were Brown to accept the UMBC offer, he would play for new coach Jim Ferry, who has experience with Berkshire County players. Mike Culpo, who got his high school basketball start at St. Joseph High School, played for Ferry at Long Island.
Badmus, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward, also has a Division I offer from Bryant.
Ty Higgins, a teammate of Brown's at Vermont Academy and a former teammate at Monument, also had two solid tournaments for Team New England. Higgins, a shooting guard, made 40, 3-point hoops in two tourneys.
The name Lari Ketner is very familiar to University of Massachusetts. Now, Ketner's son Tairi will look to make a name for himself not too far from Berkshire County.
The younger Ketner, a 6-foot-7 forward from Wayne, Pa., has agreed to be a preferred walk-on at the University at Albany, playing basketball for former UMass player and assistant coach Dwayne Killings. Wayne is a Philly suburb.
Ketner spent last year playing at Woodstock Academy in Connecticut.
Lari Ketner, who died of colon cancer in 2014, was recruited to UMass by John Calipari. Ketner had to sit out the 1995 season as a Proposition 48 student. Had he been able to play in his freshman year, he might have been the extra piece that could have enabled Calipari's Minutemen to win the NCAA title.
Instead, Lari Ketner played three years for Bruiser Flint, was drafted in the second round of the 1999 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, and went on to play professionally from 1999 until 2004. He had stints with the Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers.
Tairi Ketner played for Philadelphia Catholic School power Archbishop Carroll before going to Woodstock.
"I was fortunate to know Tairi's late father during his college player days at UMass and in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls," Killings said in a statement. "Tairi possesses the same grit and dedication that his father exemplified on the court as a player. He will join our program ready to work hard and represent himself and his family every day in the classroom and in competition."
There are two new men's basketball coaches in NESCAC, one at Tufts and one at Bowdoin. The new coach at Tufts falls right into the Six Degrees of Williams Basketball game.
Brandon Linton, who replaces the retired Bob Sheldon at Tufts, comes to Medford after two seasons at Division III Nichols. He went to Nichols after four seasons at Army. He was hired at Army when Kevin App was hired off of Zach Spiker's staff to replace Mike Maker at Williams.
The other new coach in NESCAC is Alex Lloyd, who replaces the retired Tim Gilbride. Lloyd, who played at Division III Pomona Pitzer, comes to Maine after spending this past season as an assistant coach for the Memphis Hustle of the NBA's G League. That's the G League affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies.
App will be starting his eighth year (including the lost 2020-21 campaign) at Williams, and he is now seventh in seniority among NESCAC coaches. Other than Linton, Lloyd and new Amherst coach Marlon Sears, only Connecticut College's Tim Sweeney has less time on a NESCAC bench. Sweeney came on board in 2019.
Middlebury's Jeff Brown, who begins his 25th season this winter, is now the dean of NESCAC coaches. Jon Furbush of Bates is second with 14 years experience, Joe Reilly of Wesleyan has 13 years, while Daien Strahorn of Colby and James Cosgrove of Trinity have 11 years each on their resume. Hamilton's Adam Stockwell has wrapped up 10 seasons.