Harry Rafferty (Durham, NH) spent the last 4 years at Berwick Academy (a prep school in southern Maine) breaking scoring records, winning individual awards galore and leading his team to victories. The 5'11" combo-guard was then faced with the decision of whether to go to college or do a post-grad year at a prep school. Well on Friday he made that decision, informing Phillips Exeter Academy head coach Jay Tilton that he would be doing a PG year at PEA.
"Jay Tilton is getting a money player!" said Berwick Academy head coach Rory Early. "Harry was a dream to coach at Berwick. He understands the game because he lives it. Harry's passion and hard work for the game has given him some great opportunities."
Doing a PG year before going off to college gives players a transition year between high school and college. This winter at Phillips Exeter Rafferty will go head-to-head with some of the top players in the country by playing in the NEPSAC Class A (Berwick is in the NEPSAC Class C). He will get another year of exposure by playing at PEA and he will also get another year of playing AAU which of course will give him additional exposure as well. Not to mention when you go to Phillips Exeter you are going to one of the top schools in the country academically.
"There were a few reasons that made me choose Phillips Exeter in the end" said Rafferty. "Obviously, it is the most prestigious school in the country. It is hard to put into perspective how far a Phillips Exeter degree goes, and the network you are connected to after college because you went there. On top of that, I have unbelievable relationship with Coach (Jay) Tilton, two of my best friends (Chris Braley and Duncan Robinson) will be there with me next year, and I received an unreal financial aid. It is just a great situation all together, and I'm blessed to have the opportunity."
It wasn't an easy decision for Rafferty, who was also considering going to the Tilton School for his PG year.
"First off, I just want to say that I love the Tilton School, and this decision in no way is because I didn't want to go there" Rafferty explained. "Coach (Marcus) O'Neil has been a great mentor to me the last four years. One of my best friends in world, Georges Niang, goes there, and everyone in that community has treated me with nothing but respect and kindness. We just couldn't make it work financially."
Many people from NH reading this might not be too familiar with Rafferty, especially if they're not from the seacoast. That is probably because he went to a prep school in Maine. If he went to public school he would have gone to Oyster River, and if he did then probably everyone in the state would know who he is. You can bet Oyster River head coach Stuart Mitchell wishes he went there, and the rest of Division II (Class I) is glad he went to Berwick. But in talking to Rafferty it's easy to see he's happy he has no regrets.
"My fondest memory at Berwick is probably when we won a NEPSAC Class D Championship my sophomore year" said Rafferty. "However, my whole Berwick experience has been nothing short of amazing. The relationships I've made with my teachers, friends, and coaches is something I will never forget. Having the opportunity to come to this school truly changed my life."
In addition to Braley and Robinson, Rafferty will also team up with Berlin High star wing player Curtis Arsenault, who is also doing a PG year at Phillips Exeter. That will give Coach Tilton three 1,000 point scorers on the same squad. Max Kirsch, who started for Timberlane this past season as a freshman will also be enrolling at PEA and repeating his freshman year.
"As he moves onto Phillips Exeter, he'll get one more year to prove his worth" said Coach Early. "Harry will be missed at Berwick but he leaves a legacy that we are all proud of. He scored 1,705 points (our school's previous all-time leading scorer Jon Fagan had 1,394), he was a two-time EIL MVP, 1st team NEPSAC Class C selection and just a great kid to be around."
There is no question Rafferty is one of the granite state's top available recruits at the guard position. The lefty is best known for his picture perfect shooting form, quick release and accuracy from beyond the arc. The bottom line is you'd be hard pressed to name too many players anywhere in New England who can shoot the basketball like Rafferty. With that being said, he has also developed a solid all-around game. With his ability to shoot, drive to the rim and finish inside he can play the off-guard position. But over the last couple years he has also worked on being able to play the point guard position since at 5'11" that is where he would probably have to play in college. So he now sees the floor very well, pushes the ball on the break and finds the open man. He can flat out score the basketball but is also an unselfish player as well. Rafferty is a tough defender and rebounds well for a guard.
"My recruiting is all over the place right now" Rafferty told the NH Notebook. "I've heard from a few Ivy League and smaller D-I schools, a couple of NE-10 schools, and then a lot of NESCAC and Divsion III schools. I'm going to have plenty of opportunities to prove myself this summer running with the Middlesex Magic AAU program as well. Right now though, I'm just trying to get better every day. Now that I know that I'm going to Phillips Exeter, my main goal in mind is helping to lead our team to a NEPSAC Class A title. If I work my hardest everyday and we win a championship, everything else I want will fall into place."
That team-first, me-second attitude is one of the many reasons why Rafferty is an easy kid to root for.